January 22, 2009

Fleet managers need to be fully aware of repairs costs before ordering new cars, warns Fleet News somewhat platitudinously. Why? Because new bumper test results released by motor insurance repair research centre Thatcham show that even walking-speed crashes can cause damage costing thousands of pounds to fix.

Most spectacularly, crashing a Subaru Impreza at just 6mph rendered the vehicle undrivable and resulted in £4,151’s worth of repairs! “The car achieved its poor rating,” Thatcham explained helpfully, “because of the severity of damage and excessive repair costs.” Obviously concerned about losing the Impreza’s no doubt vast share of the fleet car market, manufacturer Subaru countered that the tests are not part of Thatcham’s insurance group rating assessment. But Thatcham had already considered that: “If the insurer identifies that the repair costs on a particular vehicle are consistently higher than other vehicles they will look to mitigate their risk and adjust premiums accordingly.”

Fleet News also quotes CAP’s Mark Norman agreeing ponderously that: “In terms of whole life costs it is unlikely to have any visible effect on individual models as many fleets already tend to exclude higher insurance group vehicles from choice lists already. Where costs are likely to be pushed up by this,” he adds, continuing to eschew elegance of expression in favour of an authoratatively gritty and comma-free tone, “is via any further rises in insurance premiums due to higher repair costs.”

Of the 12 vehicles tested by Thatcham, most achieved  poor’ or  marginal’ ratings. Only the dependable Ford Focus got an  acceptable’ rating (repair cost £789) in the rear bumper test. It was also the best performer up front, with a repair cost of £1,556. Nine out of twelve needed new headlights ‚ the Impreza’s at an eye-watering £382 each. “Many bumper systems do not protect the rest of the car from damage because they are too weak, poorly aligned, too small, or in some cases, not there at all,” Thatcham, unlike this story, went on.


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