Despite distinct angles and different participants, electric vehicle panel sessions at both the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Expo and Wire & Gas shared a common takeaway message: Workshops and technicians will be a key educator during the electrification transition.
Furthermore, those who embrace this role stand to benefit earlier, and most, from the opportunities this transformation of our road transport and energy systems.
Although specialists in refrigerant-based thermal management get a head start, all automotive repairers should take the opportunity to engage with their customers on the topic of hybrid and electric vehicles, not least to establish trust that you will know what you are doing when they one day arrive with such a vehicle at your workshop.
Those in general repair will, in time, face a reduction in the number of mechanical jobs that need doing, purely because EVs have fewer moving parts. They will need to start offsetting this by finding more customers. Why not start by establishing an electrification reputation?
It will be your secret sauce in winning business from dealership service departments and gaining word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family who may be early adopters of electrification.
At the Aftermarket Expo, Mike Carnemolla of The Garage Network said his workshop had “decided to go first to market and try to capture” hybrid and EV owners. One of the initiatives was to install rooftop solar and charging stations to both provide a service and communicate his expertise.
“With our current customers who have petrol cars, we are educating them that we’re ready to go, we’re ready for what’s coming,” he said, “And they’re talking to us about that now, which is really quite pleasing for us.”
At Wire & Gas, Jeff Smit of The Automotive Technician said his workshop had started providing hybrid courtesy cars and that for city-based EV owners daunted by the prospect of charging on longer out-of-town trips, his offering will include renting out the hybrids as a convenient but still environmentally-conscious option for those customers.
Jeff agreed that there was great value in workshops and technicians establishing themselves as a source of reliable expertise in hybrids and EVs, including knowledge and advice for those in the market for one.