THS gets back in game with new ownership, business direction
Torrance, Calif.—According to the 2018 SEMA Future Trends Report, there more than 5 million hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and electric vehicles (EV) on the road in the U.S. Roughly 4 percent of all new vehicles produced. By the end of 2020, that number is expected to reach 8.3 percent of new vehicles, and increase to 18 percent by 2025.
Not surprisingly, electric cars accounted for 7.1 percent of California car sales in the first three quarters of 2018 with fully electric, zero-emission car sales outpacing plug-in hybrid sales 4.1 percent to 3 percent, respectively.
A 2018 report from Veloz, a public-private coalition of major electric car industry stakeholders, showed cumulative national electrical car sales totaled 1,064,346 as of November 2018.
Those numbers translate into more new hybrid and EV maintenance and repair work for savvy auto service centers and tire dealers – especially in battery services. That’s where The Hybrid Shop (THS) comes in.
Under new ownership, the reinvented THS has a new direction, a simplified business plan, new dealer training and tools, and is supported by Itochu, a global entity founded in 1949 that is No. 203 on Forbes top 2,000 businesses worldwide.
THS and its CEO, Martin Kruszelnicki, recently held its official launch and four-day dealer training session, beginning Sunday afternoon, Feb.17, at its new headquarters in Torrance with a tour of the lab, remanufacturing facility and training center.
“Our focus is on building the dealer’s business and teaching technicians how to diagnose and repair HEV/PHEV/EV vehicles,” Kruszelnicki said, “not just conditioning a battery pack.”
Monday, Feb. 18, a day-long meeting, held at the Double Tree Torrance, began with an overview of the HEV/EV market, projections for the future, and objectives of the THS franchise program, hosted by Dave Crawford, THS president, Carey Mellor, THS vice president of sales, and Kruszelnicki.
Kruszelnicki also provided an orientation of the wireless Launch X-431 Torque tablet with proprietary THS software, provided to franchisees for diagnosing battery conditions and more.
Mellor discussed THS marketing and branding strategies and direction, including local and national efforts to attract customers.
Mark Saxonberg, a former longtime Toyota manager, including manager of its alternative fuel vehicle and environmental program, talked about the importance of education and training for HEV/EV shops; Tom Gage, CEO of EVGrid, discussed the development of small-cell batteries for EVs, now used by the millions; and Richard Billings, lead hardware developer for Preteckt, covered vehicle prognostics as a service (V-PaaS), including data collection and analization.
The session ended with discussions by Crawford and Mellor on sales, customer service, and the importance of educating today’s customer, including communicating, building trust, and long-term relationships for maximum profitability.
A brief presentation followed by Trisha Vasquez of Kukui explaining how a shop’s website links to the THS landing page.
Tuesday through Friday was deep training for dealers in the training center with topics of discussion including an introduction to hybrid vehicles, high voltage and safety, hybrid vehicle models, Toyota and Honda powertrains, domestic hybrid powertrains, NiMH and Lithium batteries, hands on repair instruction, proper diagnosis, and technician efficiency.
Thirty franchise dealers from the U.S., Canada, and abroad attended the weeklong event that signaled the beginning of a new profit center and a better future for those first-adopter shops, Crawford said.
“Hybrids and electric vehicles is where the market growth is going. Whoever gets there first and positions themselves around it, has a head start and everybody else has to play catch up.”