2 January, 2021
According to the Consumer Federation of America, “consumer interest in buying electric vehicles is growing at the same time these vehicles are becoming more available and more attractive…It does not surprise us that electric vehicle sales have grown more rapidly in their first four years than did those of hybrid vehicles.” Just as the advent of the minivan eclipsed the family wagon as the preferred family vehicle, which then itself was supplanted by the SUV, today’s generation is making the automobile theirs. In fact, Tesla just produced its one millionth electric car and is about to launch a fourth model! As tastes and expectations change, so must the service experience.
As discussed in our previous blog, the changing face of quick-lube, the upwards trajectory of EV purchases will reverberate deeply throughout the industry. Recent research indicates that when “electric-vehicle adoption does eventually kick in, dealers could see $1,300 less revenue in service and parts over the life each BEV they sell, as 35% of today’s scheduled maintenance costs will be moot.” That said, the automotive maintenance and service sector will be forced to adapt with new diagnostic systems, revised parts catalogs, and expanded service offerings to cater to the transmissions, cooling systems, and fluids specifically designed for electric vehicles. The challenge is big, but so is the opportunity.
Of course, with service centers and dealerships investing in new batteries and other EV components to satisfy increasing demand, it’s important that they also invest in technology to connect to customers who have grown up purchasing everything they need on Amazon with a single click. Gone are the days of reminding customers of their next service with flimsy window decals. With almost every new vehicle now equipped with connectivity features, service and maintenance businesses can track mileage and notify customers immediately when a service or repair is needed. Pairing this all-encompassing connectivity with Artificial Intelligence that can “digest masses of data from vibration sensors and other sources, detect anomalies, separate errors from background noise, diagnose the problem, and predict if a breakdown is likely or imminent,” service centers have the roadmap to their future.
As far as service needs are concerned, it’s worth noting some of the inherent differences between ICE vehicles and those of the electric persuasion. To maintain efficiency, Hybrids and EVs utilize regenerative braking to restore battery life, reducing strain on their braking system and limiting pad wear, resulting in longer service intervals. “The reduced wear on pads and rotors is striking: some Toyota Priuses are still operating on their first set of brake pads after more than 100,000 miles of use, whereas you’d normally assume pads would be replaced after about 30,000 miles.” A recent article from TechCrunch predicts that tires and glass will be the consumables in the coming EV era. With banks of batteries adding considerable vehicle weight, it should come as no surprise that EVs eat tires for lunch. Couple with total vehicle miles traveled within the United States steadily increasing by about 1% per year, and suddenly a tire subscription service doesn’t sound crazy.
Within the automotive service industry, the tire segment already “accounts for the largest share of 33.48%” and is predicted to reach 810.30 Billion By 2026. Likewise, glass sales will increase due to their use on the myriad of sensors and prevalence of larger sunroofs and windshields. Case in point, Tesla’s Model X panoramic glass costs $2,300 to replace.
Apart from these maintenance and service challenges, suppliers will also be impacted. As consumers continue to make the switch to electric, suppliers can tap into an exciting new revenue stream. However, until EVs overtake ICE vehicles on our roads, it’s imperative that both suppliers and support services balance their product portfolio to match the spread of vehicles traversing our roadways. Make no mistake, electric vehicles and Artificial intelligence will fundamentally alter the very foundation of the automotive industry.
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