Huge variation in car repair costs in France, electric costs 15% more

Costs for repairing a car after an accident depend significantly on department and type of vehicle

The cost of repairing a car after an accident in France varies significantly by department, if it is an electric vehicle, and its design complexity

The cost of repairing a car after an accident varies significantly by department across France, and electric cars cost up to 15% more than combustion vehicles to fix, new figures show.

Safety and car repair association SRA (Sécurité & Réparation Automobile) used around 2 million reports of repairs after accidents in 2023 in its new study. It found that the cost of repairs after an accident - for all types of vehicle - increased by 7% between 2022 and 2023. In comparison to 2019, the cost had soared even more, by 26.2% on average.

This is mainly due to the cost of new parts and paint, which rose more quickly than the cost of labour. Since 2019, the cost of new parts rose by 6.8% per year, paint rose by 6%, and labour by 5%.

Department differences

The cost of repair also varies significantly depending on the department.

  • Paris: 31.6% higher than average

  • Corsica: 31.2% higher

  • Bouches-du-Rhône: 28%

  • Vosges: 26.7%

  • Hautes-Pyrénées: 23.8%

  • Meuse: 20.9%

  • Loire: 17.6%

  • Seine-Saint-Denis: 15.2%

The cost is even higher when it comes to individual parts and labour in specific departments.

  • Corsica: 21.9% higher than average for parts, and 36.2% for the price of labour.

  • Bouches-du-Rhône: Up 41.1% for labour.

  • Paris: Most expensive for labour, at 46.1% higher than the national average.

At the other end of the scale, Côtes-d'Armor is the cheapest, with repairs there are 25.3% cheaper on average in comparison to France as a whole. Labour is also cheaper, at 25.5% below average.

What is pushing prices up?

The SRA states that the cost of paint is a major driver of increased prices, as is the rising complexity of vehicle design.

“Paint manufacturers and distributors have applied several price increases to par varnish and paint products to compensate for increases in the cost of raw materials,” it said. 

Car manufacturers are also partly to blame, as they are consistently increasing the complexity of vehicles.

For example, the SRA highlighted the price of a replacement front bumper (a common part needed after an accident), which generally increases significantly with each new model. 

It found:

  • First generation Peugeot 2008: €861 

  • Second-generation 2008: €1,986 (increase of 131%).

  • Third-generation Hyundai Tucson: €2,694 

  • Fourth-generation Tucson: €5,270 (increase of 96%).

Another rising cost is for components such as fog lights, which have specifically risen in price by 173%.

The SRA said that new designs tend to account for these increases, especially as “headlamps are now integrated into the bumper cladding, as are the daytime lights, which alone account for 60% of the total price,” it said. 

Similarly, LED lights - which are quickly becoming standard on most new vehicles - cost twice as much as halogen lights, it said.

Electric vehicles cost more to repair

The SRA has also highlighted the increased cost of repairing an electric vehicle, which it states is 15% more on average, in comparison to combustion vehicles.

“In the vast majority of cases, electric vehicles are more expensive than their internal combustion counterparts,” said Rodolphe Pouvreau, the director of SRA, to FranceInfo.

The study looked at reports of 800,000 repairs of electric vehicles in 2023, and compared the cost to the vehicles’ equivalent combustion models.

“The heavier the vehicle, the more inertia it has,” said Mr Pouvreau. “In the event of a collision, this can cause more damage.”

Electric vehicles also have other “specific characteristics” that can push up the price, such as “the need to secure the vehicle when carrying out repairs…to avoid risks of electrocution and fire”, the director said.