This time around, we’re asking if the aftermarket should be afraid of electric vehicles, wondering who else doesn’t want to stare at screens in cars, and do tiny car drivers know something we don’t?

Should the Aftermarket Be Afraid of Electric Vehicles?
With electric vehicles gaining popularity and the Biden Administration pushing to ensure that at least half of all new vehicles are electric by 2030, the face of the automotive maintenance repair industry is rapidly changing. With such a significant shift in the very basis of the industry, it’s only natural for legacy suppliers to worry that manufacturing opportunities will decline with that shift.
That may not be the case – at least, not if suppliers are willing to pivot and supply the new maintenance and repair needs, instead. Electric vehicles have far fewer moving parts than internal combustion vehicles, decreasing their maintenance needs. But the vehicles still have maintenance requirements, like tire rotation and coolant flushes.

In fact, the Deepview True Cost Second Owner Study published on October 28, 2021 found that maintenance and service costs for electric vehicle was actually higher than gas vehicle averages during the initial year of use. After three months, the average service cost of electric vehicles was $123, while gas vehicle costs averaged $53. Electric vehicles were still more expensive after one year in service, with service costs averaging $306 compared to gas vehicle averages of $189. After 36 months on the road, electric vehicles became more affordable; their service costs averaged $514 compared to gasoline averages of $749.

The study accounted for repairs, maintenance, recalls, warranties, diagnostics, and software updates. It highlights the fact that electric vehicles do have significant service needs, particularly during that initial year or two when they’re first on the road. Anticipating and meeting those maintenance needs is a prime opportunity for legacy suppliers.

Keep in mind that the battery health of an electric vehicle is key. With batteries costing between $5,000 and $10,000, there’s plenty of opportunity for manufacturers to create longer-lasting, more affordable, and higher performance batteries. Battery servicing should become an in-demand key maintenance aspect, and regenerative braking systems will also need maintenance and repair.

Key elements of electric vehicle suspension, like tie rods, ball joints, and shocks, will need maintenance and replacement. With electric vehicles being more expensive than gas vehicles, it’s possible that drivers will want to hold onto these vehicles for longer, and that they will need and be willing to invest more into their maintenance and repair. The opportunities will still exist, but suppliers will need to reevaluate their focus and pivot to meet these repair needs as they grow.

Should legacy suppliers be inclined, there’s also likely to be huge demand for charging system maintenance and repair components and services. Diversifying into charging systems and other components could increase a supplier’s baseline and target audience.

Will electric vehicles put the aftermarket out of business? It’s unlikely. Just as the market has evolved to support the needs of the gas-powered vehicles we have today, it will learn to diversify and support the needs of the electric vehicles of tomorrow.

Screen Fatigue: Could In-Car Screens be a Thing of the Past?
Have you ever thought to yourself: “I want to spend more time looking at computer screens?” Are you starting to think slapping a tablet on the dashboard is a wee bit lazy and uninspired? This might be a quixotic crusade, but I really hope everybody says yes. Here to save those of us in the anti-screen camp is German manufacturer Continental and their ShyTech display.

The ShyTech display features a semi-transparent surface, so the screen is integrated into the surrounding panel. When needed, the screen can encompass the entire instrument panel width. When it’s not needed, the screen seems to disappear into the panel, looking like a wooden or leather-covered surface.

The result is that drivers can enjoy a quieter, screen-free existence until they need to access the technology they need. Continental has found a way to accommodate our screen fatigue, and they might have struck on the new trend that we’ll see in more and more new vehicles. One can dream.

Could Small City Cars Catch on in the U.S.?
If you’re a world traveler, you’ve probably seen a lot of unusually small cars that we don’t get in the U.S. We aren’t talking about Polos or Smarts or Fiestas, we’re thinking smaller, possibly even three-wheeled and probably electric. You’d have to take your brave pills to go on the highway in one, but they would be perfect for in-town errands, especially if your local transit authority has suddenly taken half of its rail cars out of service. Many have tried, but for one reason or another, they haven’t ever caught on in the U.S.

How long would gas prices have to remain high before it would make sense to focus on manufacturing small, lightweight vehicles? They would certainly have an advantage on crowded streets and would be able to fit into those tiny parallel parking spots. They aren’t for everyone, but they could be an ideal option for commuters who carpool with one other person and for folks who don’t have large families. And if they don’t need a driver’s license to operate, might some of these kids who can’t be bothered to get licenses be lured into one? A gateway into the wider world of mobility. If nothing else, an inexpensive, agile, easy-to-park vehicle would be a handy way to deliver pizzas and packages.