21 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Aftermarket Evolution

What do garages do in order to be able to fully embrace the autonomous vehicle future?
By Bill Brower, Vice President of Industry Relations at Solera

The recent launch of Ford’s first legal, hands-free autonomous vehicle in the UK marks a turning point in the evolution of self-driving technology. The dream of self-driving cars, which once seemed distant, is now much closer than we thought.

At the same time, we find ourselves on the cusp of an electric vehicle (EV) revolution, with EVs accounting for over 14% of the world’s passenger vehicle sales in 2022, compared to 9% in 2021.
The automotive industry has never experienced such a rapid pace of change, presenting the aftermarket with a unique opportunity to modernise and acquire new skills.

Adapting to the future One of the primary benefits of autonomous vehicles lies in their advanced safety systems, which are expected to significantly reduce the number of collisions due to fewer human errors and smart decision-making. As a result, the Auto OEM collision repair marketing could decline by as much as 50% by 2030. The rise of the EV market poses a similar challenge, as electric vehicles require fewer conventional maintenance tasks.
However, instead of viewing this as a threat, the aftermarket should see it as an opportunity. Those that pivot their focus from traditional to more specialised repairs and maintenance will be ahead of the curve.

The rise of eco-friendly services
By embracing these changes and catering to the unique needs of modern drivers, garages can gain a competitive advantage. As more drivers seek sustainable options, with 64% wanting their next car to be a new energy vehicle, providing services that align with eco-friendly preferences will attract more customers.

By providing specialised services for these vehicles, the aftermarket industry can also actively contribute to reducing the environmental impact of the automotive industry. With car manufacturers alone emitting 74 million tonnes of CO2 each year, there’s a shared responsibility across the board—whether you’re a manufacturer, garage, or insurer—to make more sustainable decisions.

A key approach to achieving this for garages is through remanufacturing and refurbishing used parts, extending the life of products that might otherwise end up in landfills. By prioritising product design with durability and ease of repair in mind, technicians can also ensure longer-lasting and easily maintainable items.

Going smart with AI
As the landscape evolves, garages aren’t on their own. Fortunately, there is a wealth of comprehensive training available to support technicians in servicing autonomous and electric vehicles.

AI will also be a powerful ally in the future of repairs, training, and workforce development. Garages should turn to AI-powered solutions to help technicians diagnose and repair advanced vehicles more efficiently. It’s a no-brainer really, as AI allows garages to work greener, smarter, and faster, providing accurate repair reports that streamline the process and enhance overall service quality.

Autonomous vehicles, AI, and sustainability may seem like distant concepts, but the reality is that they are much closer than we think. Today’s drivers demand modern vehicles, sustainable options, and swift repairs. To meet these demands, garages must modernize, and those who do will be at the forefront of the industry in the coming years.