AKRON — Icahn Automotive Group L.L.C. and TBC Corp. are the latest aftermarket companies to test the mobile tire-servicing waters, with Icahn opting to go after larger corporate/fleet business with its Pep Boys Mobile Crew initiative.
These new initiatives are in addition to a mobile tire-installation program being tested by Goodyear along with dozens of independents already active across the country.
Bridgestone Americas and Michelin North America Inc. tested the concept in 2016, and American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) ran a test in the Indianapolis market in 2017-18 under the Rubbr Automotive Services L.L.C. name.
Of the two newest initiatives, Icahn Automotive's is more comprehensive, offering a package of preventive auto maintenance services, and is market-ready.
The Pep Boys Mobile Crew rig is contained in a 28-foot, dual-axle trailer with a service bay equipped with mobile lifts, tire-changing and diagnostic tools and equipment and staffed by ASE-certified automotive technicians.
Pep Boys Mobile Crew offers "check engine" diagnostics; tire repair, replacement, rotation and balancing; brake, shock and strut maintenance; belt and hose replacement; and heating, air conditioning and cooling system maintenance, Icahn Automotive said.
Services such as battery, wiper blade and headlamp checks and replacement, and oil and other fluid changes also are available.
Pep Boys said it is still evaluating what —if any — surcharges it might apply for the mobile service versus work done at a store.
"We know our customers balance extraordinary demands in their lives and on their time," Brian Kaner, president of service for Icahn Automotive, said.
"Pep Boys Mobile Crew is a natural extension of our ongoing investment in customer convenience and value, and the first comprehensive mobile automotive maintenance provider to be affiliated with a national service network."
The concept — which was tested under rigorous real-world conditions recently in the Florida Panhandle following Hurricane Michael — is being pitched to corporate human resources departments, office managers and fleet representatives, who arrange a visit and alert their employees to the opportunity.
Once a visit is scheduled, vehicle owners can book service appointments online, Icahn Automotive said. On the scheduled day, they park their vehicles at work, leave their car keys in a drop box at the Mobile Crew site set up at their place of work, and pick their vehicles up when the services are completed.
Early feedback on Pep Boys Mobile Crew has been positive, according to Mr. Kaner, who noted one customer who said: "Service was extremely convenient. I have been trying for months to get my regular maintenance done, and this made it very easy to get my car serviced."