Auto Service World
News   May 14, 2024   by Martyn Johns

Commentary: The Canadian automotive aftermarket needs to plug in

The automotive aftermarket is sitting on the sidelines as the electric vehicle transition takes place

The Canadian automotive aftermarket lacks an important seat at the table to be part of the development of the coming electric vehicle industry.

This is an issue with both the mechanical and collision sectors of the automotive repair industry. As a collective group, we have such strength and ability to shape the EV future.

The EV & Charging Expo took place in Toronto from May 1-2, hosted by Electric Autonomy. The show consisted of a trade show, large stage presentations from industry personnel and many breakout seminars presented by industry experts.

While the event was well attended by many in the electric vehicle infrastructure and charging industries, it was noticeable how limited the participation was from the traditional automotive aftermarket in Canada.

As an industry, we have the opportunity to grab and shape the narrative on how the traditional aftermarket captures opportunity and market share moving forward.  Currently, many manufacturers and traditional wholesale distributors in Canada are looking to find ways to create and offer greater value and return on investment from their traditional business models.

Why does the auto care sector need to wait until Year 5 of the vehicle’s age to start thinking about it? The need to rethink and alter the way we are doing business is paramount to long-term success.

The Canadian government has set 2035 as the date for 100 per cent of consumer vehicle sales to be fully battery electric. That is only 11 years away. But based on the participation and engagement from the automotive aftermarket at the recent expo, it seems like EVs in the aftermarket are a second thought, holding a ‘wait and see’ mentality.

Based on many speakers at the expo — including David Giles, president of Powered EV Training and Consulting Ltd. — the future of the shop business in Canada is bright for the owners and companies that plan and embrace the change. This involves modifying the traditional business model of a repair shop towards greater training and equipment investment, focusing on labour margin, service rates and customer experiences.

The EV industry is at an inflection point for demand and supply. The battery and charging infrastructure needs improving and people need to feel confident they can get to where they are going with battery-powered cars. But all of that will not matter if we as an industry do not continue to do what we have done for decades: Adapt and grow with new opportunities.

I look forward to next year’s expo so we can all see the increased industry involvement in the EV space. I hope that the aftermarket industry is not going to just have a seat at the table, but be a leader in the development of this exciting future.

Martyn Johns is a 20+ year veteran of the automotive aftermarket in Canada, most recently with NAPA Auto Parts as National Director. He specializes in service delivery networks and is a leader in electric vehicle deployment across Canada.

EV & Charging Expo 2024

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2 Comments » for Commentary: The Canadian automotive aftermarket needs to plug in
  1. D D says:

    There is no mention on the cost or space to what upgrading for EV Vehicles will consist of. We the shops get money for this upgrade from the government as my understanding is at the very least money wise it will cost $60,000. Why would any shop put this kind of money out when the day to day cost are out of control.
    I can say one handful of my customers can afford these vehicles & god forbid they need a battery in say 5 years because of temperature or anything else it will become a throw away car.
    Our infrastructure is not even close to handling these vehicles.

  2. Rob Nurse says:

    Its nice to know that I am not the only one voicing common sense opinions. Unfortunately all vehicles are becoming throw away cars. I cant remember the last time I did an engine swap, cylinder head or even a timing chain. Consumers rather replace a vehicle than deal with an expensive repair cost. That mind set will surely transfer over to EV’s, so why would I tool my shop 15 -20 years ahead of needing too, for repairs that consumers wont purchase? Because my industry is stating that the ones that implement will thrive. Please, I have heard that before. I have no problem slowly implementing EV brakes and chassis repairs and let the dealerships deal with the high voltage issues which will probably end up being vehicle replacement anyways. Whatever proves to be profitable for my business will be what I will implement. Fixing every repair on every make and model vehicle is not a practical or profitable way to operate a shop.

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