An auto repair shop will never be out of business provided it keeps its technicians updated on current market needs. A study by Hedges Company stated that in 2020, there were 286.9 million vehicles registered in the U.S. The forecast is that this will increase to 289.5 million vehicles registered at the end of this year. All vehicles need maintenance and repair, and those numbers indicate good business for auto repair shops.
Right to Repair
For the past 20 years, the Auto Care Association (ACA), Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), and Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) have been strongly advocating for the right to repair among car owners. This is because several car manufacturers include components in their automobiles that must be replaced only by the manufacturers once they become defective. In some cases, these components do not need outright replacement, but only the repair of certain parts. The right to repair will enable auto repair shops to do more affordable work that also benefits car owners.
The ACA, AASA, and MEMA applauded the executive order signed by President Joseph Biden on July 9 asking the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to put in place more regulations to forbid auto manufacturers from restricting independent auto repair.
As of now, only Massachusetts has a right to repair law. It obliges auto manufacturers to provide independent repair shops with diagnostic and repair information and technical updates at a fair price. A memorandum of understanding was also drawn up between auto manufacturers, except Tesla, and independent repair shop organizations in which the manufacturers agreed to apply the Massachusetts law to all other states provided that no other state comes up with a similar law. That law, however, is incomplete because it specifically excludes information on automotive telematics. This refers to the wireless transmission of mechanical information data to a remote server. If the FTC passes a federal law covering all aspects of auto repair, including automotive telematics, this will overrule the Memorandum of Agreement and its limitations.
Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that there were about 1.8 million electric vehicles (EVs) registered in the country in 2020. Of these, more than 1.1 million were all-electric vehicles. The rest were either plug-in hybrid vehicles or fuel cell vehicles.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only seven percent of adults in the population currently own electric or hybrid vehicles. Nearly 40 percent stated that they are considering an electric vehicle for their next purchase, but 46 percent stated that they will not do so.
On August 5, President Joseph Biden signed an executive order calling for half of the total new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030. It includes purely electric cars as well as hybrid vehicles. In California, by 2035, the requirement will be for all new vehicles to be electric.
Even electric cars need regular maintenance, though. For instance, they need a regular tire rotation, alignment, and balancing on a wheel balancer because they weigh more than internal combustion energy (ICE) cars and, therefore, wear out the tires faster. Electric vehicles will also need to have brakes and bodywork checked. These will need the replacement of the steering fluid, brake fluid, and windscreen wiper fluid. These are traditional car repair services. Auto repair technicians must, however, learn how to handle and repair the battery of electric cars that differ from ICE cars.
Even ICE vehicles have advanced digital systems that make it necessary for automotive technicians to upgrade their skills. McKinsey & Co. and Bosch stated that as of 2010, the average vehicle already included some 10 million lines of code. In 2016, the Ford F-150 truck already included 150 million lines of code. McKinsey states that by 2030, vehicles will include some 300 million lines of code.
Furthermore, according to Volvo technical training senior manager, Jeffrey Jennings, all of their radar and lidar systems are now more complex than those in a Boeing 787, and the adaptive cruise control and automatic braking systems in nearly all vehicles are also elements of autonomous driving.
While all the basic requirements for technical skills are still applicable and need to be studied, these must now be supplemented by digital skills training. Volvo now requires web-based training and an additional 34 days of instructor-led training plus three tests.
Auto Repair Shops into the Future
There will always be a need for auto repair shops that are keeping themselves up-to-date on the automobile industry’s technological advances. By retaining all current skills and adding on new ones, they will be able to service both old and new vehicles. This is now the bottom line for any auto repair shop to succeed.