The automotive sector has been undergoing significant changes, propelled primarily by the global goal to decarbonise. The transition to hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) is already in progress, and should only grow with coming bans on the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
For automotive workshops, the acceleration of EVs brings with it a set of challenges alongside opportunities. To cater to the evolving needs of customers and to remain profitable, workshops must set out on their own sustainability journey. With that said, what exactly should workshops do to make sure they are meeting the needs of the new generation of drivers?
Meeting rising consumer demand for sustainability
Recent EMEA-wide research conducted by Petronas Lubricants International (PLI) on sustainability and consumer driving habits revealed a strong desire to contribute to a greener automotive industry. As many as 80% of European consumers aspire to drive more sustainably; however, as many as 12% lack the knowledge and understanding of how to do so. In fact, only 31% of Brits are aware of how to reduce their car’s carbon footprint. This is where automotive workshops play an essential role as knowledgeable professionals who can offer more sustainable solutions to their customers.
Staying ahead of the curve
The automotive industry is constantly evolving as it adapts to governmental mandates and aligns with consumer needs. Workshop mechanics must stay ahead of the curve by continuously improving their knowledge and technical skills and further position themselves as experienced professionals who can advise their customers on the latest updates or changes in the industry.
Vehicles are evolving from combustion engines. Pure hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, fully electric vehicles and smaller yet more powerful engines are now hitting the roads. This multitude of vehicles requires specialised fluids and lubricants to ensure the proper mechanical care is taken according to the type of engine. Lubricants are being developed with optimisation in mind, improving efficiency and reducing emissions. But it’s not a one size fits all approach.
For example, EVs don’t require engine oil changes, but do require vital fluids to ensure they are performing at their best, and safest—these three vital components are reduction gear, brake and coolant fluids. EVs heavily rely on coolant to flow through the system to stop the all-important battery from overheating, therefore a regular replacement of any coolant fluid is mandatory during servicing. Similarly, it is recommended that brake fluid is replaced in EVs every 40,000 km (25,000 miles) or two years. However, much like traditional combustion engines, hybrid vehicles still require the same level of care and therefore the same maintenance. This includes engine oil, transmission oil, coolants and brake fluids.
Driving sustainably beyond EVs
While the adoption of EVs is increasing, not every new driver has the means to purchase one and many will continue to drive ICE cars. So how can workshops still help these drivers? PLI’s recent research shows that 71% of Europeans already know that oil can contribute to carbon footprint of car but are less aware of other factors that play a role. For instance, by recommending lubricants that are designed to minimise environmental impact or using products that simply have more environmentally friendly packaging, workshops can help drivers take positive action. Having a detailed understanding of the nuances and the different types of fluids available that are specifically designed to enhance the performance and reduce emissions of these new and existing breeds of car will result in workshops becoming trusted advisors on sustainable driving practices.
There are expert-level training programmes already available to help upskill on such knowledge. These services allow the most up to date information and expertise to be easily accessible, easily digestible and readily available. Making full use of such training can help to boost marketing power, giving companies the edge versus competitors in terms of service delivery. Networking and collaborative training can also be beneficial in upskilling teams effectively in this new era of sustainable mobility.
Workshops play an essential role as knowledgeable professionals who can offer more sustainable solutions to their customers
It’s important to note that the onus isn’t simply on the workshop owner. To successfully navigate the changing automotive landscape and achieve broader industry goals on greener driving, collaborating with partners and distributors is key. By working closely with industry stakeholders, workshops can remain at the forefront of advancements and provide their customers with the best possible service.
Customers at the heart of the operation
The automotive industry is constantly evolving, and workshops need to keep up with all the latest developments as a result. To achieve this, workshops must place clients at the centre of everything they do. Workshop professionals can only provide adequate help and advice if they understand where their customers are on their own sustainability journey. Through arming themselves with the appropriate training, skills, and network, as well as progressing in line with sustainable objectives and advancements, workshops will be able to put the customer first and still remain profitable in a notoriously competitive industry.
About the author: Marsha Thomas is UK & Ireland Country Manager at PETRONAS Lubricants International (PLI)