AIA chairman Susan Hitchon interviews Delphi’s Malcolm Sissmore during the third episode of the “Curbside Chat” video series.
By Allan Janssen
Automotive service professionals need not worry about being sidelined by new technology, says a senior Delphi executive.
“Malcolm Sissmore, vice president of North American aftermarket sales for Delphi, told a virtual audience of industry players yesterday that they’re going to be busier than ever when a spate of new technology brings new automotive issues into service bays.
“Think about the advent of GDI turbo,” Sissmore said on a “Curbside Chat” videocast presented by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA). “There is a lot of GDI turbo out there, and if you look at most of the manuals, GDI turbos require twice the amount of maintenance as naturally aspirated engine. As this becomes more common we are going to be busier not less busy.”
Similarly, he said, the advent of alternatively-powered vehicles does not spell the end of traditional maintenance.
“It is widely assumed tomorrow’s vehicles will require a lot less maintenance. But there’s some misunderstanding there,” he said. “Only about three or four percent of alternative-power vehicles are pure electric. The rest are hybrids with two-, three-, or four-cylinder GDI engines. All of these will have to be maintained traditionally.”
Sissmore believes new technology will give independent repair shops an opportunity to sell solutions to previously unknown vehicle problems.
“You really have to know what the maintenance is going to mean to the consumer. If customers opt for an update or diagnostics, or maintenance, they want to know how the vehicle be different than it is today? And you have to have a good answer to that,” he explained. “You might say, ‘Does your power window ever stall every so often? Well, we fixed that.’”
The Curbside Chat, hosted by AIA chairman Susan Hitchon, is a monthly presentation that examines pressing industry issues.
Hitchon pressed Sissmore on the advent of new vehicle technology and its expected impact on the aftermarket.
Sissmore said the biggest driver of automotive innovation remains government mandates, and it is moving in one direction only.
“People quickly get used to new technology, and won’t want to go without it,” he said. “Once you’ve started using active safety systems, you’re going to always want it in the future.”
One of the biggest changes for the auto technicians will be the need for continuous learning.
“You need to make sure you’re signed up for a lifetime of continuous learning. Training is no longer selective. New technologies are constantly coming out,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to see my doctor who in his 50s if he hasn’t had any additional training since he graduated in his 20s.”
He suggested shop owners establish a subscription, tool, and training budget.
“You don’t want to face an unplanned cost of $20,000 all at once. You want to plan for that,” he said.
Sissmore also suggested shops figure out ways to recover revenue that is lost because of extended service intervals. The natural place to expand services is in diagnostics because vehicles are so much more complex than they used to be.
“You will have to make up those lost labour dollars and gross margin dollars, with diagnostics. And that’s harder to sell,” he said.