LAS VEGAS — Using technology effectively will be an important skill for auto technicians in the near future, but they still will need to handle basic tools and equipment to service a vehicle.
The auto repair shop of the future will run on "devices, data and dirt," according to Interstate Batteries President and General Manager Tyler Reeves, who delivered a keynote address at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) last November.
Technicians will not be just programmers but rather "super-users," he predicted.
Newer vehicles are becoming more complex with assisted driving features and electrification. However, millennials are a growing percentage of service shop customers — and they usually are driving older cars, he said.
"Tomorrow's shops are going to serve the youngest consumers with the oldest cars," he said, noting that while drive-sharing and autonomous vehicles have grabbed the headlines, "the real story right now for us in the industry is the young consumers with the older cars."
This younger generation also researches nearly everything on the Internet, so auto service shops should make sure they provide access to information about vehicle maintenance needs and repair options through their websites and social media platforms to build trust with these consumers, he advised.
"There's been a ton of work on the vehicles (of the future). There's been little to no ideation or innovation around what the shops will look like that actually serve those people. How are they going to be fixed? What are the traits or the skills needed to serve those cars?"
The growth in the number of vehicle models also provides a business opportunity, he said.
"As you lead your companies, look for opportunities for unconventional partnerships and/or disruptive innovation that you can do to leapfrog and make sure your value chain is still viable in the future," he said.