Will Electric Vehicles Drive Mechanics Out of Business?

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 19

iStock_000009362901XSmall

Nope, but that hasn’t stopped some critics from saying so.

Its Broke in Two...But At Least No Oil Change is Required

Its Broke in Two…But At Least No Oil Change is Required

Take, for example, an article posted by The Street.  Though there are several inaccuracies (the author uses a Chevy Volt as an example of an electric vehicle that requires little service…huh?) within the article that we won’t discuss here, the basic premise is this:

“For the next 50 years, one business I don’t want to be in is the car service business. Why? Because with the conversion to electric cars, there will be very little to service.”

True, electric vehicles require less service (there’s no oil to change or spark plugs to replace), but in the end, an electric is still an automobile with parts that inevitably wear out or break.

For example, an electric vehicle will need suspension work as those bits (tie rods, ball joints, shocks, etc.) wear.  In addition, wear-and-tear items will still need routine replacements.  This is no different (aside from brakes due to the regenerative nature) in an electric vehicle than in a conventional automobile.  On the inside, EVs differ even less.  Buttons still break or malfunction.  HVAC systems will still go nuts from time to time and electric seats will fail to move to your preferred setting.  A window may even remain stuck open.

Service, at routine intervals, is still required for electric vehicles.

The future for auto mechanics is much the same as it is today.  They will always be in high demand, but will perhaps need a bit of specialized training to repair the ever-advancing vehicles that automakers continue to pour out.  But rest assured, auto mechanics will not be pushed out of business by the growth of electric vehicles.

Tags: , , , , ,

19 responses to "Will Electric Vehicles Drive Mechanics Out of Business?"

  1. David Murray says:

    I agree there is less “maintenance” and I also agree they are less likely to break down and will thus have a longer lifespan. But once they get older, say 10 years or more, you can probably expect they’ll start needing repairs much the same as ICE cars do.. Strut bearings, brakes, air conditioning systems, etc.

    It isn’t the mechanic that needs to worry so much as it is places like dealership and quick-lube stations.

    1. scottf200 says:

      Good point about the brakes. That actually is going to cut into the service center profits. For those that use the ‘max regen’ features on these cars the physical brake parts get a LOT less use.

  2. vdiv says:

    Very few mechanics at the service centers rebuild engines and transmissions anymore. They still however do a variety of other service related work that does not disappear with the EVs, in fact some of it may be more, i.e. the multiple coolant loops.

    The need for specialized tools and knowledge is ever increasing, so the need for specialized service centers is not going away.

    Also some of the service work is not routine maintenance, it is instead caused by a “faulty operator” (no, really, the curb leaped out of nowhere and hit me!) or by collisions, which seem to be more common with the increase in the number of vehicles on the road, the wild life, and the distracted drivers (wilder still).

  3. MrEnergyCzar says:

    I keep having to tell my Chevy Volt dealer my first oil change isn’t until 24 months, they don’t understand….

    MrEnegyCzar

    1. Anthony says:

      I took mine in after 12 months just because I wanted it changed after the engine was broken in. But from here on out, I don’t expect to see them except for every 2 years.

    2. scottf200 says:

      Just did my first 2 year oil change and they still put the clear little sticky with another oil change in 3K miles. (22K EV miles out of 39K total miles so 7K on the ICE). I had to replace a tire in the 1st year and got the tire certs from Discount Tire. Now tire rotations are ‘free’.

      1. kdawg says:

        They will rotate your tires for free even if you didn’t buy there.

    3. Josh says:

      My Nissan dealer sends email and snail mail notices about every three months for my LEAF letting me know it is time for “service” and includes a coupon for an oil change. I am tempted to bring it in, ask them to change the oil and see what happens.

  4. bloggin says:

    Ford actually presented the data on the maintenance savings when purchasing the Focus Electric over 150k miles at about $1,200.

    That breaks down something like this:

    – Fifteen oil changes(5 quarts of oil, disposal, oil filters) at $29.95 each, a total of $449.25
    – Five air filters, at $24,95 each, a total of $124.75;
    – Two cooling system flushes at $109 apiece, a total of $218;
    – A $179 transmission service;
    – One drive belt replacement at $130;
    – One new set of spark plugs, at $69.95.

    However there is maintenance required:

    – System coolant change, initially at 10 years/150,000 miles, and then every 50,000 thereafter.
    – Tire rotation and vehicle inspection(breaks, suspension, etc) annually
    – Cabin filter replacement ever 20,000 miles

    Here is the Focus EV Manual. Maintenance Schedule starts on page 356:

    http://www.motorcraftservice.com/pubs/content/~WODFEV/~MUS~LEN/41/13fevom1e.pdf

    That’s It! While also saving over $1,700 in fuel annually.

    Long term, Mechanics that want to stay in the business will need to upgrade their skills, to service electrified vehicles.

    Also 10+ years down the road, the idea of having to spend thousands of dollars to replace an entire battery pack, in most cases, can now be resolved with ‘reconditioning’. This is where just the defective cells of the battery pack are identified and replaced with similarly aged cells, costing a few hundred dollars, instead of thousands. Which extends the life and capacity/range of the battery pack well beyond the life of the car.

    I am also certain there is already an increase of owners taking their hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs directly to dealers, instead of using third party, corner auto service shops. This could be a trend that grows long term.

  5. Mark H says:

    +1 bloggin. Maintenance disappear? No. But definitely much less and more specialized.

    Also, depending on how they are used (or not used) range extenders too will have much less service. As MrEnergyCzar stated, just because there is an engine under the hood the same rules do not apply. Think about it, if you owned a car and only drove it 900 miles per year it would probably last a very long time with a lot less “engine” maintenance. Many Volt drivers and future range extenders will see less than 1000-2000 miles per year from the range extender itself. Once this sinks in, manufactures will radically change what they offer in a range extender.

    Originally I imagined extenders disappearing in a decade. I am slowly seeing the extender continue as an accessory. That accessory may or may not come in the form of a combustion engine. BMW has made the first step toward understanding the light duty low performance extender and IMO we will see more of this. In either case, it is unlikely that it adds more than a fraction to the scheduled maintenance.

  6. Bill Howland says:

    Eric Loveday quite obviously isn’t familiar with the maintenance schedule for the Chevy Volt. If he was he would see it needs less than half the normal maintenance.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      My car is over 2 years old and has yet to have even its first oil change. I will get one next year only because I have an expiring coupon, not because the car needs it.

      1. Mark H says:

        Same for mine Bill. My oil life indicator is still around 85% after 18 months. At this rate it will tell me to change it in about 9 years. Of course I will change it before then but same point you are making.

  7. kdawg says:

    Any mechanics who truly are worried should probably join the UDM program.

    http://eng-sci.udmercy.edu/programs/eng/aev/index.htm

    “The certificate program began January 2010 and will prepare automotive engineers in the unique skills needed to build the next generation of advanced electric vehicles. Apply for these courses and lead your company into the future.”

  8. Anderlan says:

    As an experienced computer technician, I am laughing my ass off at the idea that cars becoming more computerized and electrified will mean fewer repair jobs.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      The amount of repairs requied will depend on how brain dead the engineers who designed the EV are.

      My Volt is rather unique in that they had SO MANY people designing the thing (and then a significant part of it was contracted out anyways, in my opinion) that you would think it would have that “Designed by Committee” look. That’s partially true, although GM apparently feels the thing is reliable enough to say the powertrain has a 10 year, 150000 mile lifetime, with very little service needed. I can only hope. Maybe this is the one exception that proves your rule.

  9. The typical cost at dealers for regular maintenance adds up to about $3,000-3,500 every 100K miles. There are often things like timing belt replacement, exhaust system repairs, cooling system maintenance, air filter replacement, clutch fluid replacement, transmission fluid and filter replacement, oxygen sensors and fuel filters and fuel pumps, and other things, as well.

    What does an EV need? Software updates is just about it. Tires and wipers and ball joints and tie rods ends, and cabin air filters, and steering boxes, air conditioners, and power steering pumps, etc. are on all kinds of cars.

    Neil

  10. Dave K. says:

    I’m an old car guy and I can tell you that EVs need very little maintenance, even the hybrids seem to require much less than conventional cars(I own a Prius and a Leaf). But there is one big BUT! At some point they will require a new or reconditioned battery, and it could well cost as much as all that avoided maintenance combined, a lot depends on how long that huge battery lasts, and of course how much it costs to replace. But the fuel savings alone easily justify the cost premium, so don’t worry about it(unless you are a mechanic)!

  11. Jones Lebond says:

    I’ve been wanting to build a electric vehicle and I have a old broken fourwheeler that needs a simple fix. and I wanted to convert it over to electric. First of all how much am I looking at? Its chain driven and has a 70cc engine on it right now. I’m looking for quite a bit of power and good range/hours. I’m not a electrician but I am a mechanic. and my dads helping me and hes pretty smart at it.

    Where can I get a electric motor that has good amount of power but not excessive.

    Where can I get the controllers and cables and stuff

    and where can I get the battery pack one that has a good range to where I’m not charging it every 20 minutes. and smaller

    and anything else I need to know please tell me. cause I’m really wanting to do this. its a pretty small fourwheeler too

    ALSO: where do I get a charger for it
    Thank you. 🙂