The Vehicle Builders and Repairers Association has linked up with Dutch exhibition organiser Crash International to launch a dedicated accident repair show in the UK.
Crash International, which organises similar exhibitions in the Netherlands, is planning two events next year: April 24-26 in London and October 2-4 in Manchester.
Mariska Dreschler, Crash International manager, said: “Two exhibitions in different locations ensure that all potential visitors can reach one within two hours. This is the way to do it, otherwise we could lose visitors and exhibitors could lose potential clients.”
Ms Dreschler said feedback from repairers and crash equipment suppliers indicated a clear need for a dedicated show.
“They want their own show because crash repair is highly specific, but has been organised within other trade shows,” she said. “The VBRA will be our partner for these exhibitions – we can't do it without their help.”
The VBRA organised several regional bodyshop exhibitions in the late eighties. Director general Ron Nicholson believed the time was ripe for a new show.
“The VBRA is fully supportive of a dedicated crash exhibition – the board feels it is the right thing to do,” he said. “We don't believe repairers want to go round huge shows – they want their own environment.”
Crash International claimed it would operate in tandem with the European Automotive Trade Show.
Ms Dreschler, who attended this year's show, said: “Crash repair was not well represented, which gave us an extra boost for our show. But we will be too small to compete with EATS – it is not our intention to make their exhibition suffer.”
Meanwhile, the VBRA has been granted financial support worth £90,000 from the DTI through its Business Link adviser Colin Dawson. The association has produced a CD containing more than 2,000 technical repair tips – including removal and replacement of airbags and seatbelt pre-tensioners – with the help of the European umbrella trade body AIRC.
“We intend to give independent repairers access to the same information that dealers get from their manufacturers,” said Mr Nicholson.
“Often the modern vehicle is so complex that without specific knowledge about the construction and on-board electronics, reliable repairs cannot be guaranteed and mistakes can be made.
“This technical know-how support will improve efficiency and safety.”
Mr Nicholson said the CDs, available on subscription, had interested other English speaking countries, including the US and Ireland.