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.
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.
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!
The world loves to be deceived.
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.
Last edited by Larry Chanin; 07-20-2012 at 10:26 AM.
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.
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.
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.
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