Staying Current Part III - Automotive Impacts
EVs Will Force Auto Industry Shift
While there are few official estimates as yet, it is widely expected that the rise of EVs will have massive implications for repair facilities—particularly the 160,000+ independent shops across the US.Unlike their ICE counterparts, EVs don’t require services like oil changes; the maintenance services that they do have in common with their gasoline-powered forebears are needed at much lower frequencies. AlixPartners estimates that a service drive will lose roughly 35% in revenue over a 5-yearperiod for an EV versus an ICE vehicle.Coupled with long factory warranty terms on battery packs and proprietary parts(such as Tesla’s approach, or GM’s forthcoming Ultium battery), software, and technology,independent repair facilities may be left with the scraps once EVs become dominant in the US. According to some shop owners, their fellow mechanics are even turning that work away today, either out of stubborn resistance to change or fear of something new and a lack of training.That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom: Jeffrey Cox, Vice President of the Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association, thinks the 10-15+ years it will take for EVs to become common enough to pose an existential threat will give shops plenty of time to adapt and prepare; once these vehicles age out of their warranties and hit the used market, he expects that shops will be ready for them.One shop owner sees the future success of others in his field as dependent on quickly learning to use more advanced technology and offering EV-specific services like charging stations.
For franchise dealers, there will be warranty work on EVs to help tide them over. Techs also receive training tailored to the franchise’s offerings, so unlike the average neighborhood mechanic they will gain immediate experience working on EVs. Even so, franchise service drives will still see a smaller amount of routine maintenance and mechanical failure work: electric vehicles suffer fewer breakdowns due to a vastly smaller array of individual parts compared to an ICE vehicle.Even with warranty work and the odd cabin air filter replacement or brake fluid flush, franchise dealer bottom lines will feel the strain of an emptier service drive in the electric age.
For all shops, whether franchise or independent, there are some key areas ripe for capitalizing on the increased presence of EVs: collision and cosmetic repair, tires, and auto glass. The first is self-explanatory: vehicles, whatever powers them, are susceptible to damage from things like accidents, cramped parking lots, and so on. Adding these services offers shops an opportunity to stay in business no matter what the future of automotive propulsion holds. As for tires, EVs have the notable distinction of using up tire tread life at a remarkable rate: some owners have reported having to buy new tires after only 10,000 miles!Auto glass is another workhorse in an EV, requiring better efficiency to aid in power conservation when comfort features like climate control are in use.Being able to service the specialized needs of EVs could be the difference between staying open or finding a new career.
 The Washington Post, “Will Electric Vehicles Doom Your Neighborhood Auto Mechanic?”
 AlixPartners, “The AlixPartners Global Automotive Outlook – 2019.”
 CNET,“GM Shares More Secrets of Its Ultium Battery Technology.”
 Marketplace.org, “What’s A Mechanic to Do When Electric Cars Bring Less Work?”
 The Washington Post
 IEA,“IEA Global EV Outlook 2017,” p. 115
 Techcrunch.com, “Electric Vehicles Are Changing The Future of Auto Maintenance.”