Our industry, like all others faces constant evolution of the myriad technologies needed by us to thrive. The hope and objective of this series is to provide meaningful context in which to critically evaluate what these trends may mean for your business – both today and for the future. Hopefully, telling the “technology neighborhood” story rather than simply providing data will be useful.

These columns are not filled with “the answers”. They are more filled with questions. The hope is if you remember the storybook then as you read and hear stories in the field of technology, there is a greater chance you recognize potential impacts on your business. Understanding that, you will pursue relevant questions and answers to help your future business growth. Underlying all the discussion on trending technology is my strong belief that TRUST is crucial. Between you and your customer, you and your suppliers, and you and your employees.

Electric/Hybrid Vehicles

Let’s start with the topic that appears to be garnering the most publicity and discussion today. McKinsey studies, among others, suggest by the year 2035 we can expect to see roughly 20 percent of new cars being sold to be electric or hybrid. With an average life of 12 years for cars on the road today and given hybrid cars still have an engine, this is certainly an issue to consider but not one that by itself will upend our industry before the year 2050 or so. Nonetheless, what will, or should we be thinking about? What are some questions we might ask as we seek to prepare for this rapidly changing environment?

Servicing the battery? What does that mean? With whom would we partner? Supply chain? Level of anticipated investment? What is the likely revenue and at what frequency and margin? How do we offer services that will increase our touch points for these customers? There is a discussion to standardize battery technology in electric vehicles so that in the future battery replacement will be more interchangeable across makes and models – much like existing battery replacement. It likely will take a decade or more before it becomes close to a reality. However, just being aware of the potential may permit you to begin asking yourselves how to prepare or position your business to be viewed as “electric” friendly.

Why would the owner of an electric car even consider driving into one of our shops? Should you consider adding charging stations and advertise their availability? Remember, most families have more than one car and currently it is more common to see both internal combustion engines and electric in multiple car families.

Today, fewer reasons exist to draw customers into your shop. Certainly, we don’t see a lot of advertising campaigns for this and understandably so. But how might we adopt or create some “electric” friendly touch points to be an attractive and top of mind destination for that owner? Electric cars still require wipers, tires, brakes. Are there services you perform today or are considering adding to your menu of services that fit an electric car as well as conventional? If so, how could you begin to communicate that to the electric car owners in your market?

Some terms we hear in this new world:

  • Telemetrics – “sensors” on board a car communicating information remotely via a connection.
  • 5g network — If 4g (today) is a four lane highway traveling at 50 mph think of a 5g network as
    an eight lane highway traveling at 100 mph.
  • ADAS – Automated Driver Assist Systems (lane assist, brake assist etc.)
  • AI – Artificial intelligence – AI is a collection of advanced technologies that allows machines to
    sense, comprehend, act and learn.
  • Deep Learning – a subset of machine learning attempts designed to mimic the non-linear
    connections of neurons in the human brain to recognize patterns in images. (Trying to act like
    the human brain!)
  • Level 4 – Fully connected.
  • Level 5 – Fully autonomous no steering wheel no brake pedal.
  • GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation. European standards around protecting any personally identifying information (pii) about an individual. The United States is moving toward similar legislation. State and Federal.

In our next column, we will continue this “technology neighborhood” series and discuss more technology
trends including both telemetrics and shared fleets.

Steve Barram

STEVE BARRAM is CEO of Integrated Services, Inc.(ISI) – software makers of LubeSoft. He has been actively involved in the fast lube segment of the automotive aftermarket industry for over 30 years through leadership roles, speaking engagements, and serving on boards.