The next wave of opportunity for the auto service and repair industry

For the last hundred years, the automobile industry has been at the forefront of change and innovation. As manufacturers continue to incorporate new technologies into vehicles, service technicians have to continually expand their skillsets to keep up with the pace of change. In order to figure out what might be around the corner, it’s useful to take a quick look at how our industry has evolved over the past century or so.

In the early part of the last century, there were innumerable manufacturers producing hand-fitted automobiles. To service those vehicles, affluent auto owners typically hired a driver who also had some knowledge of automotive maintenance and repair. Most people couldn’t afford a car or a driver, so service technicians were scarce. 

The availability of mass-produced, passenger-carrying automobiles debuted with the Ford Model T in 1908, which was the poster child for the technological industrial revolution, making use of the best elements of internal combustion engines and advancements in manufacturing to create a vehicle that met the needs of the mass market at an affordable price. As autos became more standardized, so did their parts. Once Ford introduced standard interchangeable parts, the auto service industry was established.

Now, 110 years later, the auto industry is once again front and center in the adoption of new technologies. Cars have become digital devices, creating a whole new spectrum of IoT possibilities for consumers and manufacturers. Many of the technologies people dreamed of in the 1950s and 1960s have now become a reality: robots, semi-autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, miniaturized sensors, 3D printing, and more. New technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already transforming the way that cars are manufactured and driven, and will also change the way they are inspected and serviced.

The integration of AI in automobiles is sparking the introduction of AI and predictive analytics to proactively diagnose potential service issues. With the use of AI platforms, service technicians can access detailed inspection points and anticipated issues down to each VIN, providing a level of knowledge and insight that wouldn’t normally be available on each car that comes in. AI also allows service technicians the ability to perform inspections in whatever sequence and pace they choose. This can save valuable time on how long a vehicle needs to be in the shop, allowing service shops to service more vehicles and generate more revenue and maintain positive, trusting customer relationships.

As automotive technology evolves, so do the business models based upon them. Long gone are the days when cars were built solely for passenger transportation. Today, vehicles are used for the transportation of almost everything imaginable. Vehicles are increasingly used for commercial purposes, from traditional trucking fleets to ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, to delivery services like Amazon and grocery delivery fleets.

Vehicles are still complex systems of machinery, and as operational components break down, they will need to be for serviced and repaired. With so many vehicles being used for commercial purposes, it will become more critical than ever that those vehicles are properly serviced and maintained to stay on the road and running well. As the use of the vehicle increases, so will the need for service and repair.

Today’s automotive technological advances represent a business opportunity to accelerate efficiencies in the auto service and repair industry, delivering a higher rate of business performance. As technological advancements in automobiles evolve, the auto service and repair industry needs to follow suit.

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Leo Sigal is a technologist with two decades of experience building technology products. He currently serves as founder and CEO of Driveroo, a proactive auto care service platform to provide predictive analysis of potential maintenance issues for each vehicle. He is committed to using AI and machine learning to improve safety and convenience and believes that the auto industry is on the verge of a seismic change.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.