As autonomous technology grows more prevalent in production vehicles, it poses an interesting question to how we might service our cars in the future. If our cars will be able to drive themselves, couldn’t they just drive to get serviced themselves? From another angle of advancement, we are also moving towards more electric vehicles, which would mean the days of getting your oil changed could be behind you. How will all of this innovation affect the service industry and what changes are to come?
Autonomous vehicles pose an interesting solution to many of our daily driving problems. We might be able to get a little extra sleep on our way to work or knock out some extra tasks while running errands. While these avenues provide us with efficient uses of our time while on the go, we might even see more efficient uses of our cars while we're at work or at home. For most of its life, our car sits idle. Once a fully autonomous technology is implemented, our cars may be able to drive themselves to the shop to get periodic maintenance done. This is a desirable feature, and there’s no reason to think it is outside the bounds of possibility.
Of course, this ability to drive and get serviced autonomously requires that the car to be running, to begin with. Emergency maintenance and other services might require a tow truck still, but even that may become autonomous soon in the future.
While pure automaticity can put our cars to better use in their downtime, electric and connected vehicles may reshape how our cars are serviced even further.
If all of our cars become connected to the internet and are digitally based, installing improvements to a car's operating system can happen without any work. Tesla already takes advantage of this by providing software updates to enhance battery efficiency and improve Tesla owner’s vehicle range and acceleration capabilities. As this capability becomes more widespread, it will mean that service centers won’t have to work as much on cars' computers.
Electric cars also mean that oil changes will be out of the picture. The abundance of electric vehicles on the road will likely mean that places like Jiffy Lube or NTB will have to rework their business model. Drivers will likely not be coming to the mechanic as much, which means fewer chances to make a profit for automotive maintenance companies. While the oil change may disappear as cars turn electric, other maintenance will surely appear focused on what is needed in these cars. Electric vehicles still need the occasional service, but mechanic centers will need to reshape their business model.
As we watch these innovations happen, they signal a need for innovation in the service industry. It would be naive to assume that servicing your car will disappear with more advanced vehicles, but the process will change. You may not have to take your car to the mechanic and your car’s fuel efficiency could be improved by a simple software update. For the car owner, autonomous capabilities and connected vehicles will mean you won’t even think about maintenance on your car.