Auto dealer Wes Lutz says it’s been years since his service department made a lot of money doing transmission work, once an expensive repair.

Today’s transmissions are much more reliable and durable than before, which is why repairing one is no longer a big deal.

As the automotive world transitions into the age of electric vehicles, some industry observers predict this will hurt aftermarket revenue, as electric vehicles are less complicated and contain fewer parts than gasoline-powered cars. internal combustion.

But Lutz, the owner of Xtreme Chrysler, Jeep and Ram in Jackson, MI, isn’t wringing his hands.

The income of its service department today comes mainly from work on tires, brakes, suspensions, alignments and electrical systems.

And what about EVs? “Tires, brakes, suspension, steering systems and electrical systems,” notes Lutz.

In some ways, the growth of the electric vehicle market could be a boon for franchise dealerships, according to Liesl LaRouche (left), strategic alliances between senior executives at RevolutionParts, an online auto parts and accessories company.

“Regardless of how it develops, we will see changes that will affect stationary operations,” she says of the shift from motor-powered vehicles to battery-powered ones.

But because of the high level of expertise of auto technicians at franchise dealerships, “dealers can retain that competitive edge even as we move toward electric vehicles,” she said in a webinar, “How the ‘Rise of Electric Vehicles Will Impact Stationary Operations and How to Prepare for This.’ The National Automobile Dealers Association. put on the program.

“It’s time for dealers to raise their hands and say, ‘We know about it,'” LaRouche says of the electric vehicle expertise.

The public perception is that electric vehicles require less maintenance and repairs, says webinar co-participant Mike Rich (at the bottom left), a Vice President of RevolutionParts. “The perception is that electric vehicles are more reliable. I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s a perception.

mike rich.jpgIt calls for “a shift in fixed operations when thinking about electric vehicles, as there are fewer maintenance opportunities compared to ICE vehicles.” But he adds: “There is a great opportunity for dealers to position themselves as electric vehicle specialists.”

In a digital survey of webinar attendees, 85% expressed concern that the impending proliferation of electric vehicles will affect the number of repair orders at dealerships.

LaRouche says that calls for a shift in dealership marketing strategy. This involves engaging more with consumers, online or in person.

“Most independent stores aren’t ready for electric vehicles,” she says. “It gives dealers a chance to capture that piece of mind.”

Texas dealership John Luciano, himself a certified auto technician, says young mechanics at his shop seem optimistic about working on electric vehicles.

“They think it’s really cool. They’re into it,” says Street Volkswagen’s main dealership in Amarillo.

Conversely, some of its seasoned technicians, who have worked on internal combustion engines for their entire careers, are not particularly interested in learning the ins and outs of electric vehicles. “They say, ‘Get somebody else to go to that class.'”

LaRouche says, “Some seasoned technicians are adapting to new technology. But electric vehicles will not suit all technicians. There will always be older technicians who will not want to change. That said, “dealers should provide the right training.”

Here’s what she and Rich say dealer service departments can do to connect in the age of electric vehicles:

  • Invest in EV equipment, including those that enable refurbishment of EVs and hybrid electric batteries, which can then be resold.
  • Service EVs of all brands, then market that inclusiveness.

“Become an EV expert before someone else does,” says Rich, “This is a real chance for dealers to become an expert.”

All-in with General Motors’ ambitious EV initiative is Whitney Yates Woods, master dealer at Yates Buick GMC in the Phoenix metro area.

Her store is investing in EV-related equipment, charging stations and additional training of automotive technicians “for our future EV specialists,” she says.

At this time, no one can predict with certainty how electric vehicles will affect dealer service revenues.

“Maybe it will be a little less,” says Lutz. “But it won’t be a crash-and-burn.”

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