Could Driver Assistance Features Undermine Independent Repair?
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) save lives and prevent accidents. They may also open a backdoor to stifling owner- and independent auto repair, if carmakers like Ford get their way.
A cracked windshield on your car isn’t the type of problem you can ignore. Fortunately, it is also one of the least painful repairs that car owners might encounter - or at least it has been.
Even the most bare bones auto insurance policies cover replacement of broken windows and cracked windshields. Moreover, car owners in the U.S. benefit from a crowded and competitive market for glass replacement. Your local auto glass shop or the corner garage can replace your windshield, or you can choose from a slew of regional and national players in the glass replacement business, like Safelite. Providers commonly do repairs at the customer’s site.
But after more than a century, the market for auto glass repair is heating up. And, if automakers have their way, the days of competition in the auto glass replacement market may be ending. Last week, for example, Ford launched a program it calls the Ford Certified Glass Network (FCGN) to “ensure the safe and proper installation of original equipment glass on Ford and Lincoln vehicles.”
Preventing Accidents…At A Cost
What’s changed? And why has Ford introduced a Certified Glass program 118 years after the company’s founding? Blame Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). The software-based features rely on an array of sensors and cameras mounted on late model vehicles to warn drivers about road hazards and impending collisions, apply automatic braking and more. They’re also threatening to upend the aftermarket parts and service business.