With support from most automakers and the government, the transportation market is moving toward alternative powertrains, which include hybrid, hybrid plug-in and electric vehicles. The proliferation of these vehicles is being driven by economic factors, environmental policy and regulation and the public’s evolving perception and embracement of the technology.
The drive toward EVs has slowed because of factors such as the COVID-19-related recession, low fuel costs and the relatively high cost of electric motors vs. internal combustion engines. But as the demand for EVs picks up, tires will need to be transformed to support electrification and eventually autonomous vehicles.
Tires will need to join the rest of the vehicle in connectivity through sensors or other systems, providing real-time data on tire inflation, condition and wear.
Let’s shift to talk a little more about autonomous vehicles, or AVs. Major automotive companies support AVs, but this effort has been slowed even more than EVs because of the COVID-19 recession. While the rationale for EVs is energy efficiency and vehicle emissions, it’s safety for AVs. The long-term transition to autonomous vehicles will also be driven by the need to reduce urban congestion and optimize vehicle utilization through ride-sharing.
While there are some roadblocks on the path to EVs and autonomous vehicles, auto repair shops, tire dealers and their service technicians should start thinking about the best way to service these vehicles, especially if you’re located in an urban area that’s densely populated.
A good place to start is by building your knowledge base. Keep updated about EVs and the coming autonomous technologies and then seek out proper training as these vehicles come into the shop.
The growth of EVs combines information technology and automotive service skills, which will eventually require a new generation of diagnostic and scanning equipment for troubleshooting and computer updates. When you’ll need this skill and equipment ramp up depends on the rate of adoption in your shop’s local market, but it is coming. As more EVs hit the market, technicians will need to find training classes that cover sensors and other new vehicle technologies, high-voltage battery safety and service, and OEM-recommended tooling for electric motors.