The explosive growth of technology and its direct connection to the accelerated pace of collision repair complexity cannot be understated in today’s industry. From coast to coast and from rural to urban communities, no matter where you work or which segment of the collision repair industry, we’re experiencing one of the most fascinating eras of our time.
And yes, it’s also a challenging time, with trying to understand how best to prepare your organization and make sense of which technology trends matter most now and into the future.
As a member of I-CAR’s technical leadership team, I’m proud to share that our organization’s commitment to leading this next wave of change has never been stronger.
In fact, I-CAR recently announced plans to significantly expand its technical expertise, capacity and capabilities, providing new infrastructures to support the ongoing creation and delivery of relevant and best-in-class education for the collision repair industry amid an era of extraordinary change in vehicle technology.
Chicago Tech Center
A hallmark of the expansion plans that is underway now includes the addition of a second technical center in the Chicagoland area – the Chicago Tech Center or CTC – to serve as a catalyst for advanced research and development, uniquely reflecting the ongoing and emerging technology complexities associated with electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid vehicles (HV), advanced-driver assistance systems (ADAS) and more. The new single-story site, with approximately 48,000 square feet, will expand upon and complement I-CAR’s existing technical center in Appleton, Wis.
“I-CAR is continuously evolving and proactively seeking to continue providing relevant technical leadership for the industry, reflective of the current and future technical demands the industry has begun to see over recent years,” said John Van Alstyne, CEO and president of I-CAR.
The CTC is a direct byproduct of I-CAR’s mission statement which all employees of I-CAR live out every day: to deliver increasingly accessible, on-demand and relevant education, knowledge, services and solutions for the collision repair inter-industry.
As technology continues to redefine the future of collision repair, the CTC will allow I-CAR to achieve their vision and mission-driven work in tangible, intentional ways to prepare the collision industry for the future.
Case in point: over the next 30 months, approximately 115-plus new EV models are expected to hit the road, requiring new knowledge and skills, plus more demands on shop space requirement for required tools, equipment and safety. Ongoing collision repair research and training development to repair these complex vehicles will be paramount.
The complexity of new vehicles continues to influence the scale, scope and approach of I-CAR’s training curriculum, requiring new technical knowledge, skill sets and additional resources to properly manage their growing and more sophisticated product and service portfolio.
Accessibility and Collaboration
The CTC will provide enhanced levels of accessibility for industry partners and learners, with dedicated areas for ADAS, telematics, electric/hybrid vehicles including commercial delivery vans, and research into emerging educational technologies such as AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality). The facility will also deepen OEM technical collaboration in these technical areas, with more focus on vehicle technology specific training (VTST), real-time videos and custom training solutions. The new location will also host industry workshops and live classes for not only technicians but vocational students, serving as a Chicagoland north fixed training site for I-CAR.
Kyle Thompson, chair of the I-CAR Chair Board of Directors and assistant vice president of USAA, hit the nail on the head in describing the need for expanding technical resources, capacity and capabilities.
“The industry is at an exciting crossroads of dynamic change driven by nonstop innovation, repair complexity and technology advancements,” Thompson said. “I-CAR remains passionate in leading the industry forward in responsible, relevant and robust ways, and we couldn’t be more excited to take this bold step forward together with the inter-industry. We are truly making I-CAR more relevant and valuable for the industry as we look to our collective future.”