As electric vehicles go mainstream and higher volume, there’s still going to be plenty to do in dealership service departments, despite dealer concerns that EVs require less maintenance because they have fewer parts and no need for engine-oil changes or regular service visits.
While service departments catering to EVs will still be busy, some changes are necessary, according to panelists at a webinar hosted by Automotive News Fixed Ops Journal.
Dealerships will need to offer some entirely new services unique to EVs, such as emergency roadside charging, home-charging packages sold through the F&I department or insurance quotes specifically for EVs, panelists say.
Some familiar maintenance, such as alignment and suspension work, will continue with EVs. But with no engine-oil changes to perform, experts say dealerships need to pitch something else, for example, tire rotation, to get customers’ vehicles into the service department regularly. Once there, a multi-point inspection can discover additional needed work.
“Lube, oil and filter were always the entry point,” says panelist John Rock , Retail Innovation EV/CX Manager for Cadillac. “Now it’s tire rotations that become the entry point.”
Because of their hefty batteries, EVs are heavier than similar-sized vehicles with internal-combustion engines. That implies a greater need for rotating the tires and eventually replacing them more often, panelists say.
Even if revenue per vehicle were to decline for EVs, service retention should increase, says panelist Peter Kahn, senior director-research and insights for dealership management system provider CDK Global, Hoffman Estates, IL.
With EV technology still relatively novel, research shows many consumers have more trust in factory-trained technicians. EVs are much more complex to maintain than ICE vehicles, Kahn says.
“EVs really spell opportunity in a lot of ways,” he says.
Panelist Melissa Best, service director for Pearson Hyundai in Midlothian, VA, points out EVs have extra-long warranties on the battery, and that should help keep EV customers loyal to the dealership for service.
“The warranty is substantially longer,” she says. “It’s just about making customers comfortable with the technology.”