Dave Crawford, president of The Hybrid Shop, presented a seminar to dealers at this year’s SEMA Show about adding profitability to their service bays by expanding service opportunities on hybrid/electric vehicles.
Crawford said while it isn’t untrue that younger generations are looking into hybrid and electric vehicles to be environmentally friendly and to be fuel-efficient, he added that it isn’t only younger people buying these vehicles.
“It’s not just older generations, it’s not just the younger generation or people with families, it’s pretty much universal all the way across,” he said. “You think back to the early 2000s, and there were two [models], the Insight and the Prius. Today, there’s over 80 models and over 5 million hybrids on U.S. roads today.”
Crawford recommended dealers start servicing hybrid/electric vehicles since in the last two years, production of them has increased by 34%, resulting in over a million vehicles produced in that time. This is about 4% of all vehicles on U.S. roads today, and he added this number is projected to grow to 8.3% by next year and to 18% by 2025.
He told dealers that even though hybrid/electric vehicles represented only 1% of the global market in 2016, by 2030 he projects 60% of the global market will be made up of these vehicles.
“You might think, ‘Well, I don’t have a lot of them in my neighborhood or marketplace,’ but the manufacturers are driving this at this point. They’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in complying with government regulations and driving these vehicles worldwide,” Crawford said. “This is coming, and it’s coming very quickly on everything we do.”
While lithium-ion batteries, which are mainly used in full-electric cars, can’t be rebuilt and must be completely replaced when they go bad, Crawford said the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in many hybrids today can have battery capacity added back into them
Crawford says the majority of hybrid/electric vehicle owners are currently turning to their car dealer for service even if his or her local tire dealer does service these types of vehicles because dealers don’t tend to advertise this aspect of their business. He recommended adding signage in and outside the business, writing blog posts or adding a sliding advertisement to their website saying they work on hybrid batteries. He also suggested charging higher rates for hybrid/electric diagnostic services.
“This is an opportunity for dealers,” he said. “That’s huge potential in the marketplace, and customers are looking for a place to take their car to get it worked on.”
In addition, he said hybrid/electric service might inspire qualified technicians to work at these types of shops.
“Techs want to work on these pieces. They want to be on the cutting edge. It’s something about technicians, you know, ‘I’m accomplished, I’m better than anybody else, I’m the best.’ They take pride in their work and take pride in being challenged,” Crawford said.
“This is important, it classifies you as the best in category in the marketplace on everything you’re doing because you’re telegraphing to the entire market that ‘I work on the most technologically-advanced vehicles in the marketplace today,’ and I think that that’s huge as a business,” he added.