Cadillac CT6 Sedan Repair Network
When Cadillac rolls out the new CT6 early next year, the company’s first aluminum-skinned vehicle will have its own dedicated factory-certified repair facilities.
With the CT6, Cadillac joins an elite but growing group of automakers producing aluminum-intensive cars and light trucks, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Tesla, Ford and Audi. The difference is that the Cadillac CT6 uses an advanced mixed material approach for its lightweight body structure. The aluminum-intensive structure also includes 11 different materials to achieve strength, performance and efficiency thresholds. The new architecture, advanced materials and unique joining methods used to create the CT6 will require the collision repair industry to prepare accordingly.
Aluminum vehicles require repair facilities that are sealed off from those used to fix steel-bodied vehicles. Dealers need different tools to repair aluminum body panels and technicians need to learn different repair techniques. John Eck, Cadillac’s collision manager for wholesale dealer channel, says dealers with no aluminum repair equipment likely will need to spend around $50,000 for the special tools to fix the car.
To serve this growing need, Cadillac has announced the launch of the Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network to ensure the lightweight rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan is repaired properly after a crash.
Cadillac plans to have between 100 and 200 dealers and independent body shops signed up and trained before the CT6 goes on sale in the first quarter next year, Eck said. The CT6 uses aluminum outer body panels and a combination of ultra-high-strength steel, cast aluminum parts and extrusions for the unibody or inner structure. These components are held together by GM’s patented aluminum welding process, self-piercing rivets, screws and adhesives.
Eck said Cadillac won’t follow Ford and ship collision parts with repair instructions from the manual, but it will put repair procedures online and make them available for any body shop, in the program or not. But independent body shops that are not part of the Cadillac repair network will not be able to buy structural repair parts, Eck said.
Dealers and body shops will pay $4,500 a year to join the Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network. All requirements (training, tools, facilities, etc.) will be audited through an extensive verification process. The training will be mostly done online and carried out through GM and I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair. The CT6 repair procedures were designed to cause as little disruption to dealers and body shops as possible. As long as a tool meets Cadillac’s specifications, it doesn’t matter what brand it is, he said. Also, a dealer can seal off an area of the shop with a tent to repair a CT6 instead of dedicating a separate facility to fix the car.
To participate in the Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network, authorized dealers and independent body shops will undergo annual audits as part of their continuation in the program. These audits will provide Cadillac with a process to verify the shop’s compliance with the network requirements. It also establishes a level of consistency between all participating shops that allows Cadillac to promote the Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network to Cadillac CT6 owners. In addition, GM will support the collision repair industry by offering the CT6 collision repair information at no charge.
Information on the Cadillac Aluminum Repair Network will be available in the first quarter of 2016. Technical documents, service bulletins, paint information, warranty information, VIN and other information will be available.
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