We’ve often talked about how aluminum is impacting the design and manufacturing of the next generation of cars. If every car ran flawlessly across its lifetime, things would end there. However, it’s a fact of life that car repairs happen, and with the advent of aluminum manufacturing, that means a new skill set for those that work on cars. For the country’s leading dealership group, it’s all about a crash course in aluminum. From Automotive News:

In the battle for dealership profitability, Group 1 Automotive is betting on a metal, and it’s not gold.


Group 1, the nation’s fifth-largest dealership group, wants all of its 28 body shops to be certified to do aluminum repairs by Jan. 6.


Carmakers are using more aluminum to lower vehicle weight and raise fuel economy. Because aluminum’s metallurgical characteristics differ from steel’s, dealership collision departments will need to invest in more training for technicians and in new welding, riveting and metal bending equipment.


Until now, aluminum body panels have been used mainly on expensive low-volume luxury cars such as the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ. But according to a number of industry reports, the redesigned Ford F-150 pickup, due next summer in showrooms, will have more aluminum body panels and other parts. Ford declines to confirm these reports.


It remains to be seen how individual repair shops will approach this paradigm shift. However, with dealership repair personnel looking forward at aluminum, it certainly sounds like this will be a trend that pushes the entire automotive industry forward.