Prepare Your Shop for EVs
EVs are on the rise. The push to develop electric vehicles has increased as automakers such as Volkswagen and Ford have all recently announced plans to put out EVs in the market within the next handful of years.
According to J.P. Morgan’s 2018 study, “Driving into 2025: The Future of Electric Vehicles,” “electric and hybrid vehicles will account for an estimated 30 percent of all vehicles sales.”
It’s not just companies that are on board—some states are highlighting the usage of electric vehicles, too. The state of Maine recently revealed plans to add 50 public vehicle charging stations in addition to a $5.1 million subsidy in efforts to encourage EV use with citizens.
Dirk Spiers, chief executive officer of Spiers News Technologies, a full-service provider for battery life management, believes it’s important for those in the automotive market to not leave EVs behind. Spiers believes consumers are becoming more interested in EVs due to their price.
“Prices keep coming down with electric vehicles,” he says. “They’re becoming cheaper and cheaper.”
As the market for EVs continue to rise, it’s important for those in the automotive industry to become familiar with those vehicles in order to stay present, Spiers says.
“I would say they need to get immersed in it because there are opportunities to seek,” he says. “Don’t run away from it because you will be squeezed out.”
A Lag in Service
Jason Simms, owner of Argonaut Garage in Berkeley, Calif., began servicing electric and hybrid vehicles at his shop seven years ago when the shop operated in a service gas station. Simms recalls watching EV customers air up their tires incorrectly, and offered advice as well as service.
Seven years later, he assists customers that come in with Volts and even those who drive Teslas. Although Simms is based in California, he still only sees one EV customer per month, and those ROs are drastically smaller than his other customers’.
“The base average for an electric vehicle is $120 maybe,” he says. “Our regular is hovering around $650.”
The small repair order doesn’t surprise Simms, however, as EVs don’t require a lot of maintenance repairs.
“We see very few electric cars at this point,” he says.
Since EVs are inexpensive, Simms says he’s noticed that customers typically aren’t repairing the vehicles, as their maintenance issues can become more expensive than the vehicle itself.
“When they need a big repair, it costs $3,000-$4,000 and people aren’t fixing them,” he says. “[You] diagnose it and they won’t fix it anyway. It’s diminishing returns.”
However, Simms says he’s worked on vehicle issues such as battery degradation issues, axles, tire rotations, and fluid inspections. He says it’s important to be in the know when it comes to EVs.
“If they are going to actually get EVs in the Iowa someday [for example], then knowing about those cars instead of waiting is really important,” Simms says.
Prepare for What’s Next
As electric vehicles become more popular, those in the automotive industry can anticipate growing change, Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jones commented in a recent article by CNBC.
“As auto companies shift production towards electric vehicles, we expect increased pressure on a 100-year-old auto ecosystem supporting millions of jobs globally representing a risk to labor relations, earnings and the balance sheet,” Jones said to CNBC.
While Simms hasn’t seen too many EVs come to his shop as of late, he believes it’s critical for shops to know how to treat EVs if they do continue to rise.
“If people are interested in being in this business forever, if there’s a 25-year-old out there [starting a business], they better be paying attention [to EVs],” he says.
Both Simms and Spiers recommend purchasing an EV in order to understand how the machinery works; Simms says it’s a cheap investment since the vehicles are priced fairly low.
“I owned a Chevy Spark and understand how they work,” he says. “Find a friend who has one and let it go to the shop.”
Additionally, shops can look into training facilities that can educate the shop, he says.
“Embrace it. Don’t run away from it. Embrace it,” Spiers says. “The [EV] change is inevitable.”