Wednesday, 03 March 2021 15:41

Artistic Auto Body in Oregon Set for Expanding Electric Vehicle Population with Stand-Alone EV Center

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Five charger-equipped stalls for blueprinting allow teardown, OEM procedure research, estimating and parts ordering to be completed before EVs move to storage or into production. Five charger-equipped stalls for blueprinting allow teardown, OEM procedure research, estimating and parts ordering to be completed before EVs move to storage or into production.


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Count Artistic Auto Body among the shops geared up and ready for the coming wave of electric vehicles (EVs).

“That’s what we’re trying to do: anticipate where things are going, and try to get there before we have to,” shop owner Terry Mostul said, standing outside the 21,000-square foot stand-alone EV center he’s established next to his company’s original shop in Tigard, OR. “I like to be proactive rather than reactive.”


He acknowledges some of his colleagues have questioned whether his investment in an EV-only center almost two years ago wasn’t premature, at best. But the growth of EV vehicles in Mostul’s Portland area market, coupled with the nearly weekly automaker announcements in recent months of new electric-powered models, are an indication he made the right move.


“I can already see that specializing makes sense not only from what we’re doing today, but certainly as you look to the future,” Mostul said.


Artistic Auto Body’s two shop locations had ample experience with EVs prior to segmenting those vehicles to a stand-alone center. The company, which has had I-CAR Gold Class designation for 18 years, holds a dozen automakers' certifications including some from OEMs---such as Audi, Jaguar, Nissan and Tesla---that produce EVs.


It’s that experience trying to incorporate EV repairs into the company’s production that prompted Mostul to think about segmenting it out.


“There’s a long list of things we learned that motivated this,” Mostul said. “One of those things centers around parts. Here we have space and loading docks to receive all our parts for this location, even the EV parts that arrive by semi truck. We have a couple golf carts with beds on the back where we can deliver parts from here right to the technician, just in time.


And when you take an EV apart, you often have to remove much of the interior to disconnect certain things. So there are lots of interior parts that have to be taken out of the car and stored. Previously, all those parts were put on carts, and that’s just not a safe place to put seats and trim, or the glass you may need to remove just to get door handles out.”


The Artistic EV center includes...

...a large storage area of stacked and labeled bins where such parts can be safely stored and kept clean.


Damaged parts to be replaced are stored on carts near the parts delivery area---all the Tigard location parts are now delivered to the EV center, reducing truck and part congestion at its two other buildings---to be mirror-matched as new parts are delivered.


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Technician Kyle Liddane performs a structural repair on a Tesla Model 3 in one of the three aluminum bays at Artistic Auto Body’s location in Tigard, OR.


The space the EV center offers also enables Artistic to expedite repairs by stocking some of the most common EV vehicle fasteners and other parts---even some bumpers, rebars and fenders---that may not be immediately available locally for some models. Parts delays, though far less of an issue than they were in the past, were another consideration Mostul had in mind when adding the EV center.


“I just don’t like having an electric vehicle sitting outside in the wet and the cold, even if covered in plastic,” Mostul said. “It’s bad for the battery. So having inside storage here in the EV center has been wonderful for keeping them much, much safer. And the customers love knowing the vehicles are stored inside too.”


Mostul said EV repair production also has a slightly different “tempo” than work on other vehicles. There’s more involved in disassembly for blueprinting and more diagnostic work upfront, for example.


For everyone involved in working on the vehicles---estimators, technicians, parts staff and even detailers---there’s a learning curve that only steepens if they’re working on EVs only occasionally amongst a regular flow of other vehicles, he said. The EV center allows those employees to specialize in those vehicles.


“We started with a blueprinter, taking them out of the other building and saying, ‘You’re just going to focus on these vehicles,’” Mostul said. “And the minute we did that, boom, things really started getting traction.”


The EV center includes five stalls for blueprinting, allowing for a mid-tech to be disassembling one vehicle as an estimator prepares the paperwork for another. Parts and OEM procedure research can be completed on the other vehicles before they are moved to storage or into production.


All the cars can be fully charged via charging stations in that area, as well as connected to...

...the automaker via a standalone WiFi network, separate from that used to run the business or to provide connectivity for customers.


“We want to leave them there in that area until we are done with all those preliminary processes,” Mostul said. “Having it separate allows us not to jeopardize accuracy by trying to maintain the same flow we use elsewhere in production.”


Scheduling of EVs is also done differently.


“Every incoming drivable job gets put on a list, and instead of scheduling by date, we’ll notify them when we have all the parts, and then bring them in for repairs,” Mostul said. “That may mean an EV written later may jump ahead of one brought in earlier. But we keep in contact with our customers throughout the process.”


While actual repair and paint work are currently done in the shop’s other buildings, that will change as the company plans to build the capability to do it within the EV center, Mostul said.


Goodrich web

Blueprinter Sophia Goodrich prepares an estimate on a Tesla in for repairs.


While some of the company’s other mechanical work is done it in its other buildings, its lead mechanic, and its scanning and calibration work, are in the EV center.


“We want to do as much as we can in-house, both so we can control it to make sure it’s done right, and also for cycle time, so we don’t have to take something to a dealership, which has extra days and costs associated with it,” Mostul said.


The EV center’s charging stations are programmable, allowing charging to generally take place overnight, when energy rates are lower. All vehicles are fully charged the night before they are to be delivered.


“Because of how we’ve positioned ourselves, it’s not unusual to have someone come from 200 or 300 miles away have their car fixed here,” Mostul said. “So it’s important we return the EV to them fully charged, and triple-checked to make sure everything is like new.”


Mostul said he sees his company’s EV center as a logical step in the changing nature of the collision industry’s work.


“Being a body man is now so much than it used to be,” he said. “A bigger and bigger portion of the bill is related to the work you do with a computer at the diagnostic rate. You really need the right facility with people who are good at that. That’s what we’ve tried to build here.”



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