Some people are talking about what effect driverless cars will have on the auto repair industry. Although not all experts agree, one expert predicts driverless cars will increase business for auto repair shops. Mountain View Automotive in Thornton says advances in car design and performance sometimes increases the need for the service businesses that support them.
Veteran mechanic Jason Bigelow from Aberdeen, N.J. reports in the August issue of the trade magazine Aftermarket Business that driverless cars can increase business for repair shops.
“Owning and operating a repair shop for over 21 years has taught me that only one thing is certain about the automotive industry—it is always changing and moving. Driverless cars can drive up the bottom line at repair shops,” Bigelow said.
Bigelow feels that the mechanical and electrical systems of driverless cars are not so different from the cars auto repair technicians work on today.
“Despite the naysayers, I am actually excited about how this will affect the automotive repair industry,” writes Bigelow. “The autonomous features are just that—‘features’ designed to replace drivers, not cars.The goal is to add operational awareness and intelligence without replacing any of the components that make human-controlled cars operate.”
Cars already have things like parking assist, lane departure, 360 degree view cameras and, crash-avoidance systems without any corresponding erosion of the auto repair business, Bigelow notes. He points out that today’s vehicles coming to the shops for maintenance or repairs sit parked 95 percent of the time. With the new fleets of driverless cars spending more time on the road and increasing wear and tear, there will still be a need for and maintenance and repair.
“With time, fleets of driverless cars will fan out across the country to deliver groceries and mall merchandise, take seniors to church or doctor’s appointments, conduct sight-seeing tours, ferry carpoolers to and from work—the potential applications are nearly limitless,” Bigelow writes.
Bigelow believes the new driverless cars will create a need to expand and hire more highly-trained technicians in order to keep pace with the massive increase in demand that will be put on the service industry.
He says parts manufacturers, too, will need to ramp up production in order to keep pace with the demand for brake pads, tires, steering and suspension components and all of the other consumable parts that driverless vehicles will require.
“In fact, parts manufacturers have already started gearing up for the changes by offering advanced training and support networks to technicians and facilities that sell or service their products. They also recognize the need to have strong relationships with their wholesalers and suppliers in order to capitalize on the growing market,” Bigelow writes.
Bigelow believes the shift to driverless cars offers new opportunities and should be embraced.
“Naturally, pessimists will continue to point to the potential downsides of the phenomenon,” he writes. “The rest of us can look forward to capitalizing on the new opportunities that always come with one of the basic realities of the automotive industry—rapid change.”
What effect these new technologies will have on the auto repair industry remains to be seen, but Mountain View Automotive in Thornton says staying current on the new advances will get technicians ready to provide needed service to the new driverless cars.