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Will electric vehicles put parts/repair shops out of business?

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by Iz, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Iz

    Iz EVs are here to stay

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    If I may add to this... Was in Auto Zone last week. I would say more than half of the inventory and what is sold are ICE related components. Oil, filters, spark plugs, ignition items and more. It is a difficult and painful change for the ICE manufacturers as well as all the downstream businesses that support them, including auto mechanic careers. However, it is a shift that may take decades and allow the adjustments to be made gradually.
     
  2. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Member

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    Maybe only because Autozones are typically pretty small stores.

    The bulk of our business, say 40%, is brake related. And there is a quite significant amount of undercar (think chassis, suspension, steering) business as well. Cars do require the occasional ignition coil, and we do well with emissions related too. But this statement is pretty far from being correct.

    Let's say that in ten years EVs do in fact claim 10% of the yearly market (currently around 14 million), as some predict. How long will it be before EVs claim a significant amount of the total vehicle population (I don't have the figures here, but what is it, something like 150 million?)? Quite a while. So you are correct, it will be decades before there is significant shift. In the meantime there will be plenty of time for mechanics to learn to fix EVs and for a good aftermarket to grow to offer replacement parts that EVs will inevitably require.
     
  3. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Matt,
    If the world were %100 EVs and say the drivetrain of them never sold in your store (dealers only). Lastly add in that EV brakepads last about 4 times longer (because of regen). How much of you business would go away?
     
  4. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Member

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    For the record, I don't see a 100% EV vehicle population happening in my lifetime. Even if there were only EV's sold from this day forward, gasoline cars are going to be around for a long time. We still have quite a few cars built in the 1980's on the roads today, by comparison.

    But I'll take your scenario, a 100% EV population. Surely we would lose any ignition and emissions systems business, and engine air, oil and fuel filters as well (cabin filters would continue to be in use). The little bit of engine parts we still sell, the bulk of which are timing products, are history too. There may still be some gaskets associated with EVs (in the drivetrain I suppose), but they would be a minor product line. Accessory drive belts will most likely be a thing of the past.

    You say the brakes last 4 times as long; I'll take that figure for now, but really what kind of studies have been done? I would propose a theory that the early EV adopters are very interested in hypermiling and closely monitor their energy usage (including regen). As the general populace begins driving EVs, they're going to be running up on people and braking at the last minute, just as they're used to doing now. (It's just a theory) In any case, the brake business would take a hit, maybe not as drastic as you expect. No one knows.

    As our business mix is today then, you could probably see as much as a 50-60% cut in our business. But you or I can't really say in what areas the aftermarket would pick up market segments. Not everyone takes their car to the dealer for service, that's why there are millions of independent repair shop all over the country, including some of the biggest names in national chains, like Midas, NTB and any of your Firestone-type service centers. All of these types of places buy parts from the aftermarket, which is huge business. People are always looking to save money; that's why Wal-mart exists. So the dealers won't get all of that business, but in any case I sell to several dealers also.

    I'm not familiar with what goes into an EV drivetrain, but I'm willing to bet there are all manner of controllers, relays, sensors, ECMs and whatnot. Let's not forget stability control systems as currently mandated. I'm sure there will be sufficient demand and need for the aftermarket to step into these market segments, and others which we currently cannot forsee. Let's not forget that many aftermarket suppliers are OEM suppliers too. And our product mix is constantly expanding into new areas. For example, a few years ago we didn't offer replacement computer controlled suspension parts; today we do.

    The Model S weighs, what, almost 5000 pounds? How much of it is the battery? What accounts for the rest? I guarantee it isn't made of unicorn farts. Any component built by humans is prone to failure, even an electronic piece (especially an electronic piece). Also consider how many electrical connections might be in a Model S. One of my TVs randomly stopped working over the winter, and it sits stationary in a climate controlled environment, and has no moving pieces. The Model S (and any other mainstream, non-limited-practicality EV, unlike the Roadster) are going to be asked to perform day after day, in good conditions and bad, exposed to rain, snow, heat, dirt, cold, pothole impacts and God knows what else, while also keeping its occupants warm (or cool), entertained and comfortable. It's a lot to ask of a product, one which I reiterate is the most complicated thing you will ever own (it's a miracle that cars do what they do).

    So there will be plenty of parts for us to sell, notwithstanding all the inventory currently in my building which has nothing whatsoever to do with a gasoline engine. Therefore there will also be plenty of work for mechanics of all types to perform. And since the EV revolution is not going to happen overnight, as in our little hypothetical here, I am not too worried about a sudden and precipitous drop in our sales.

    But it is curious how many here are so eager to wish that upon me and others in the field. I currently employ 50 people, all of whom put dinner on their families' tables through auto parts sales to repair shops. The mechanics at those shops put dinner on their families' tables through repair of customers' cars, and those customers are able to go to their jobs with those cars, and put food on their families' tables, as a result. People and cars like yours and others on this forum. Many of my parts are sold to fleet operators, the types of people who deliver the goods and services people buy and use every day, or build the houses in which they live. My one auto parts business directly benefits and impacts thousands of people; there are 7000 more NAPA stores around the country, and who knows how many of other affiliations.

    So I'll ask you, what would be the impact to the employees of these stores, and to the nation's economy, if they, and all the repair shops as well, were to simulateously fail? Luckily for all of us, this isn't going to happen, and I don't think a bunch of huge aftermarket companies, led by smart people, would stand by and not adapt as the mix of the cars on the road, their very reason for existence, shifted under their watch.

    VFX, I know you were just asking a simple hypothetical question, but I can't understand the disdain carried here (not necessarily by you) for my business, just because I happen to sell parts to repair "evil ICE cars". Down the road, you just might need a guy like me around.
     
  5. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Matt for a detailed serious look at my hypothetical scenario. It was very enlightening. I think the disdain comes from the evil oil companies doing whatever they can to keep the ICE status quo. (Many specific examples can be cited) and that hate overflows into evil automakers doing same and then onto transmission, muffler, and by extension, autoparts stores as well. Not saying it's right, it's just my theory.

    I do long for the day when backyard mechanics can more easily wrench on electrics. I would guess all of the lost ICE business would come back for parts stores and autoshops. It would be quite easy to stock a Tesla watermelon sized motor on the shelf over a big V8.

    As for all the employees I have sympathy but not loyalty to them and their families. There will be pain during the transition. My old girlfriend used to work in a record store. A cousin worked until recently at Blockbuster video. A neighbor was at a chain bookstore now shuttered. Technology eliminated all those jobs. My job in the 80s and 90s was almost entirely eliminated by digital computer advancements. I bet you too have eliminated many jobs by employing technology in retail sales, billing, warehousing, delivery, etc. We and the economy recover and move on.

    I thank you again!
     
  6. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    #6 Larry Chanin, Jul 20, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
    Hi Matt,

    I agreed the transition to EVs is not going to happen overnight and your industry will have ample time to make adjustments.

    With regard to your quoted remarks, like most that frequent this forum I would like to see the transition to EV occur as soon as possible. However, I nevertheless applauded the President's actions to support American car manufacturers. As we know the consequences of letting them fail would not have be confined just to the manufacturers, but would have had a massive effect on associated industries. Maybe we're too glib on this forum in using the term "disruptive" in certain instances. For the record I'm not hoping to put everyone out of work who is associated with the conventional automotive industries.

    Larry
     
  7. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Member

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    You're welcome. I forgot fuel components as well! Anyway, as I walked my way through it, in a way it was enlightening to me as well.

    Very well put, and great points. My expectation is that my industry will change along with the change in the product mix on the road, as it has before (big V8 American iron dominating - to - today's mix including imports and smaller engines). That is my hope as well, for obvious reasons. :wink:

    +1 Larry!
     
  8. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    These posts should probably be moved since they don't deal with Ford Focus EV.

    If the criteria for advancing to new technologies or industries means no one can lose their jobs then we can never progress. I don't think anyone wants people to lose their jobs or have families go hungry. Job losses will cause the most pain when shifts in industries need to be made rapid due to an oil crisis for example. If people plan ahead and work on a transition then training for people who's jobs will be phased out can be implemented to lessen the pain. Since we seem to be moving away from coal, this will affect coal miners. Same thing with the oil industry. Eventually we'll need a plan to transition away from an oil based economy decades from now and do this in a way that leaves as few people as far behind as possible.
     
  9. I see a bigger problem....EV Manufacturers will be able to control parts supplies and charge whatever they want for "proprietary parts." Things in an EV go bad, they may require less maintenance but they still have parts that can go bad randomly or over time. For example, changing a PEM in a roadster is something a backyard mechanic can do, but this part is only available from Tesla and not third party sources. The goal should be to get to get a healthy aftermarket that is able to rebuild EV parts or create replacements for parts that can go bad in an EV. These parts can be sold alongside ICE parts at local parts shops. It will not happen until EV manufacturers allow this to happen, I do not see why they would since each EV manufacturer has 100% of the parts market.
     
  10. CapitalistOppressor

    CapitalistOppressor Active Member

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    I'm with Mattjs33 on this one.

    The Autozone's and mechanics of the world will adjust. There are huge industries built around the underbody of a car that wont hardly be affected at all.

    In terms of the drivetrain it's mechanically simple, but there is still plenty that can go wrong that will require professionals. There has been a long running trend where it has become increasingly difficult to repair cars at home. EV's are likely to accelerate that trend. Yes, mechanical components will be more modular, but safety issues look to be more acute and most of the really delicate and complicated electronic will require a professional to properly access and service.

    To the extent that spark plugs, oil filters and other ICE bric a brac will disappear, it will just open up floor space for Autozone to sell higher margin merchandise like custom rims or the Lazr Assault™ anti-aircraft defense package.
     
  11. mattjs33

    mattjs33 Member

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    I see what you are saying here, but remember that the manufacturers build very little of their cars anymore. They design a part, or specify a set of parameters for a part, but the parts themselves are typically built by a first tier supplier. For example, the gas tank in a Volt is made by Spectra Premium to the requirements that GM set forth. Spectra Premium is also a vendor of aftermarket gas tanks, which I happen to sell. Thus, it would not at all surprise me if we had the gas tank for a Volt listed soon in our NAPA cataloging. (Did you catch the news that the builder of the 2014 Corvette's front bumper accidently released video of it being made on its website? GM was not amused)

    In any case, many of the EV components you are talking about are likely built by third parties, parties which might be interested in selling replacements through whatever channels it can. If Denso builds some of the components for the Fit EV, might those components someday be available through NAPA? Could be, since we sell Denso stuff right now.

    I get the feeling a lot of Tesla powertrain stuff is fairly proprietary, but don't forget the Mercedes-Benz turn signal stalk on the Model S.

    It will take a while though. The aftermarkets main strength is in vehicles 6-12 years old, when they are out of warranty and people find it hard to justify dealer pricing. But this stuff could happen sooner rather than later. We've already gotten calls for the battery pack on a Prius!
     
  12. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Tesla wants to do everything in house. An engineer told me Elon hates the Mercedes steering in his car.

    I would still think though that if the Bluegen3star sold 1M units that there will be 3rd parties duplicating any and all parts that are know to need regular replacing.

    These parts can also be used by the conversion industry that I think will be big someday.
     
  13. VolkerP

    VolkerP EU Model S P-37

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    Great thread, thanks VFX and Matt for shedding light on that hypothetical scenario.

    I want to add to the possible time range when EVs are a majority not only of new car sold but of cars on the road. It was mentioned before: Oil crisis. This or a similar factor that affects availability/price of gasoline might very well put many ICE cars off the roads. Imagine a government ukas to reserve oil for military use during a war. :crying:
     
  14. meloccom

    meloccom Moderator Aus/NZ

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    I was thinking the same thing given recent attempts by manufacturers to patent their part designs to prevent non-genuine copies. However my crystal ball predicts an increase in remanufacturing along the lines of BBA as many EV parts like the PEM have enough value to make them worth repairing.
     
  15. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    No. My belief is that it's because of the loss of the parts (Toyota and dealer) and service (dealer) income stream. The true customer of Toyota is the dealer and EVs will put about 3/4 of them out of business when they become a significant part of the automotive population. There are fewer parts in an EV; parts are high profit items. Both Toyota and the dealers stand to lose from EVs so foot dragging is the basic goal.

    The "lose money on every car" is at best a half truth which has been said about every car that is not a pure ICE car. You can take the numbers and twist them however you want to "prove" your point. It reminds me of the manager who had three job applicants. The first applicant was a engineer. The manager asked what 2+2 was. The engineer took out his calculator punched some buttons and said four. The second applicant was a scientist. When the manager asked what was 2+2 he took out his notebook, wrote down the numbers, did the calculation and also said for. The third applicant was an accountant. When the manager asked what 2+2 was, the accountant jumped up, looked around, shut the curtains, and checked to make sure no one was outside the door, and went up beside the manager. Then he whispered, "What would you like it to be?".
     
  16. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    I hear this argument often, and I don't know enough about the ins and outs to really debate it, but is it PROVEN that servicing EVs will mean the death of dealerships? I mean, isn't there still work to be done? Isn't there still significant profit on the parts that still remain? We still have lights, wipers, I'm guessing HVAC bits and bobs, tires etc. It's not like an EV NEVER has to be touched, right?
     
  17. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    Yes I believe there will still be maintenance. I have spent more on maintenance/upgrades for my Roadster than my last 5 cars and 500,000 miles combined. It is new technology and there will be bugs to be worked out and there are still brakes, cooling systems, A/C and the host of other systems in the car. I think that EV's will reduce car maintenance but it will be far from eliminated.
     
  18. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    #18 ChadS, Aug 17, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2012
    You don't have to talk to many dealers to back up what Jerry is saying. I have been to many dealers, offering to help them sell electric cars, for free--and most of them rather directly say no thanks, because they make more money on gas cars. I've talked to dozens of people that wanted to buy EVs in CA in the 90's, and were repeatedly put off by the dealers ("you don't want one of those," "they don't work," "we don't have any").

    It's not that the dealers are evil; it's just really hard time for dealers, and EVs both require more investment (new diagnostic equipment, EVSEs, training staff, educating customers) and less income (primarily service, where most dealers really make their money). There are of course exceptions...some dealers are defining themselves by being the local "EV dealer". EV buyers tend to be more on-line and research more, so this is a good strategy--word spreads. Plug In America will be doing a webinar that focuses on practices of some of the successful ones.

    Toyota is perhaps worse than most, because they have a very valuable asset in the Prius brand; but many people that were buying Prius are now buying EVs because they meet their goals even better. So foot-dragging is indeed Toyota's intent. And yet...I think they recognize that they will have to do something at some point to stay competitive. The RAV4 is nicer than it has to be, and they haven't ruled out making more.

    I do believe Toyota is losing money on every RAV4-EV, although as Jerry points out it's very hard to tell how much. But that's partly a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you build very low quantities of almost any car, you're not going to make money unless you charge a lot. Unfortunately, making a ton of them doesn't guarantee you that you will make money; there still has to be a market. And Toyota has the extra fear about hybrid cannibalization. So I understand Toyota moving slow, more than other brands (i.e. Honda or VW).

    (So if the automakers and dealers don't want to sell EVs, and most Americans have many misconceptions about them and still have not even seen one...how on earth are they ever going to get sold? I think is our biggest hope is for existing EV drivers to give rides. Give rides to everybody you know, and anybody that asks about the car! Especially if any of you in the lucky four cities they are sold in end up with the new RAV4-EV...people will be shocked to find out that the EV is the high-end powertrain, rather than the low end. They will start thinking about getting one themselves once they learn that.)
     
  19. Norbert

    Norbert TSLA will win

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    I suppose you may have a point about the dealers, however since the RAV4 EV is selling for not much less than the Model S 40 kWh, and Toyota has mass-manufacturing for RAV4 in general, I'd expect them to be able to make money on the RAV4 EV, per individual car sold additionally.

    As was said in the last quarterly report Q&A, Tesla is in talks with Toyota about potentially increasing the volume, also since a larger volume would significantly reduce the costs for the Tesla components. Elon's take was that a positive experience in the introduction of the RAV4 EV, and a good demand, may lead Toyota to make a larger deal.
     
  20. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    One of the stories we heard was salespeople having to explain EVs to customers. a thousand questions that they don't have to answer/convince to customers when buying the gas machine they have always bought. That's a lot of extra work and time that takes away from selling more cars per day.
     

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