Auto Service World
News   August 23, 2023   by Adam Malik

How the aftermarket can take advantage of EV frustration

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Canadians who want to buy an electric vehicle are facing challenges in finding knowledgeable sales reps when they go to buy the vehicle. And then they’re having problems finding knowledgeable shops, service advisors and technicians when they need servicing.

On the sales floor, customers feel like they know more about what the dealership is offering, observed J.D. Ney, Canadian automotive practice lead at J.D. Power. It’s a challenge that Francois Lefevre, senior manager of corporate planning and market intelligence at Nissan Canada, acknowledged. When EV sales ebb and flow and are a small percentage of overall vehicles sold, it’s difficult to be on top of all the features of them.

“So that’s a challenge for the retailers. So I can’t critique our retailers above that,” he told Auto Service World at the 2023 Canadian International AutoShow. “What we can do is support them with solid education. So we’ve taken a step back and educated our dealers — that’s the second point after our website to talk about EVs and how they work [and] also talk about the infrastructure and how you charge this car.’

But when in need of servicing, owners are finding a lack of knowledge in this area as well.

“And so there’s just not overly impressed with the product knowledge that they’re currently finding. And the same thing is mostly true on the service side,” Ney said during AIA Canada’s National Conference.

“What they’re telling us through the surveys is that they get there and it’s very clear that the advisor has really no idea how to deal with the vehicle. So a lot of brands have pumped EVs into the marketplace and training on the adviser side and the service manager side has not caught up with that.”

And here opens up an opportunity for the automotive aftermarket. If owners of electric vehicles are dissatisfied with the dealership experience due to a lack of knowledge, if the aftermarket can stand out, then they can claim that business.

“What we typically find is that when a customer has a single, first experience in the aftermarket, they are much more likely to continue servicing there,” Ney said. “Over a period of a few years, [they] begin to trust more and more of their service needs to that aftermarket location.”

It usually starts with a small service, like a tire change or, in an ICE world, an oil change. They have a good service experience. After a few of those, they start bringing their more complex needs to the aftermarket retailer.

“If we can just be better at making sure that … independent service providers have the tools, the resources and the parts they need when they need them, it’s not going to solve all the problems but it essentially increases the odds that that customer is going to have a superior service experience and then obviously trust our channel for more of their service needs going forward,” Ney said.

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