Is the 2020 mechanic heading for early retirement?
The motor industry has seen massive changes over the past 10 years.
From their functionality, on-board diagnostics, driving capabilities and not least how they’re powered, our cars have changed radically.
The future already dictates that the way we drive and the cars we buy must change. So what does that mean for the industry as a whole? As for the local mechanics near me—what changes will they need to make to stay in business?
The human race has always reacted and adjusted to change
It’s true. The argument could start on the heels of what was to happen to the farriers of yesteryear when the first petrol-engine motors were introduced in the late 1880s.
The smart ones, who could see where the future was heading, worked less on the welfare of horses and carts and set up roadside fuel outlets and other ways to support the turn of the motoring tide.
Nowadays, “What is a farrier?” is more likely to pop up in a pub quiz. Perhaps 100 years from now a similar question will arise: “What is a petrol engine?”
Government statistics demand that the change isn’t an ‘if’, but a ‘when’
The Road to Zero strategy, laid out by the Government, hopes to achieve as many as 70% of new car sales to be ultra-low emission vehicles by 2030. That’s a lot of EVs when you consider the size of the market.
The plan to cease production of conventional petrol and diesel engine vehicles is set for 2040. So, although the work of the mechanic will feature in today’s marketplace for some time to come, it is linear and has an end date.
Given the popularity of EVs since their introduction, and how drivers have embraced the new technology, the changeover could happen sooner rather than later.
Will there still be enough work to do on electric cars for the conventional mechanic?
Here’s a statistic to differentiate the difference between the electric vehicle motor and a conventional engine.
A petrol engine has over 2,000 moving parts, many assembled by highly experienced hands.
An electric powertrain has less than 20.
The design and build of an engine has been a craft to continually develop through time, with the love and excitement of some of the finest engineers ever known.
By comparison, an EV powertrain is incredibly simple. It’s hard to see how much more there’s left to do. The big challenge to the industry is in battery development, high-speed charging, and how to pursue the technology.
For now, the local mechanic near me is safe. But as for their future? Who knows?
Is retraining the way forward?
Could retraining existing mechanics to manage the upkeep of the new models be the answer? Well, many would scoff at such a thing.
According to the Institute of the Motor Industry, 97% of active mechanics aren’t suitably qualified to work on electric vehicles.
If you were to engage with a mechanic about battery engineering: inclusive of chemical, battery and software engineering, there’s a strong chance they’d just scratch their head.
Given the complications of petrol engines, and the continually required care and attention to keep them running at their best, switching a faulty electric motor, by comparison, would barely be a challenge for any competent mechanic. Yet still, the work required is almost always referred back to the dealership.
When it comes to re-education, the curriculum is likely to change to meet the demand for where the industry is heading. Time will show how much, and where the key areas will be.
An electric vehicle is now a more obvious choice than ever
When they first sprang onto the market, the naysayers refused to accept the change and couldn’t have anticipated the industry’s momentum gathering pace so quickly.
Those worried about battery ranges are settling down, realising modern EVs will easily get them to their destination and back on a single charge.
The fact that so many charging stations are already available is adding to the ease in decision-making. There are already more public charging points than petrol stations, according to Zap-Map.
One of the most significant advantages to the consumer is the cost per mile
Fuel economy features highly in most people’s vehicle purchases.
Despite the electric vehicle being more expensive to buy (for the time being), the fuel cost works out at around 4–6p per mile as opposed to nearer 13–16p of conventional petrol or diesel models.
The predicted service costs of an EV should also be far lower. There’s no oil change (and some of the other fluids) to consider, the braking system is under significantly less pressure in an electric vehicle, and there are far fewer working parts to service or repair.
Industry-wide manufacturing and its impact on employment
Vehicle manufacturers will need to create around 17% fewer parts to build the new wave of vehicles. For their manufacturing teams, that’s a significant hit.
Even worse news for the supply chain of parts, their figure is estimated nearer to 38%.
With 11% of EU manufacturing accounted for by the automotive industry, that’s transfers into a lot of jobs heading for concern. Electric vehicles stand to create a severe impact on employment and the economy.
Simpler servicing and maintenance
Because EVs are simpler machines to keep on the road as well as to manufacture, even the dealerships will suffer. Servicing and maintenance provide almost half of the dealership income. With a significant drop in such, that’s a lot of revenue to lose.
Only time will tell
There are so many factors to what will come next in the automotive industry. Driverless cars will have their own impact on both owners and hire-firms alike.
Being able to herald a vehicle that doesn’t need a driver, to get you from A to B via an app on your phone, could cut down whether many of us choose to own a car or not in the first place.
How the market grows and changes is under a mass of scrutiny, because nobody is quite sure where it can, or will go.
But for the time being …
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