A just-released report by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada reveals some startling gaps in the confidence level that electric vehicle and hybrid electric vehicle owners have in the independent automotive service provider (ASP) to service their vehicle competently.
The AIA Canada report “Electric Vehicle Maintenance and Repair: The Canadian Owner’s Perspective” shows that while the independent ASP still holds sway over the internal combustion engine (ICE)-driving Canadian public, the same does not hold true for the electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) owner.
While it’s notable that hybrid and electric vehicles make up a very small proportion of Canadian-owned vehicles on the road, EVs and HEVs are going to become a larger factor going forward. The survey in question says that 90% of those responding neither owned a hybrid nor an EV.
This is relatively consistent with the number of EVs on the road as a proportion of the overall car parc.
It is also notable that of those responding to the survey, 36% were previously responsible for a non-EV (ICE-powered) vehicle, and 49% – that’s nearly half – are currently responsible for maintaining both EVs and non-EVs. Only 15% have never been responsible for a non-EV. These would be newer car owners who have made the decision to have an HEV or EV as their first vehicle.
But the perceptions of the independent ASP versus dealerships show a significant gulf.
While 44% of ICE owners believe that the techs working in a dealership are better trained than those at an ASP, that number for hybrid and EV owners is much higher. Some 69% of EV owners see techs at an independent ASP as being less well trained than those at a car dealer, and only slightly fewer HEV owners, 65%, see the relative levels of training that way.
When it comes to comparing dealerships and ASPs on an overall basis, some 50% of EV drivers give a top rating to dealerships, versus only 23% for ASPs. That 50% also holds true on the hybrid front, where those owners only give top ratings 20% of the time to ASPs.
This is in contrast to ICE owners who give top marks overall to their ASPs 50% of the time versus 36% of dealers.
Not surprisingly, however, when it comes to value for money, the ASPs win across the board, with 50% of EV drivers voting for ASPs as value for money, with 45% of hybrid drivers and 59% of ICE drivers giving top marks to ASPs on the pocketbook front.
Still, looking at the overall category of perceived competence on EV service, ASPs are believed to come up short in technical competence on EVs.
Some 69% of EV owners give top ratings to dealerships versus only 9% for ASPs.
ASPs only do slightly better at 11% versus 58% of dealers among HEV owners’ perceptions.
And even ICE drivers, who generally have a high confidence level in ASPs for what they’re driving, do not believe the technical competence in EVs at the ASPs is much higher, grading them at only 14% versus 44% for dealers.
Of course, many of these perceptions will be coloured by the fact that only a minority of EV owners who are going exclusively to dealerships are actually aware that local ASPs can service EVs.
That number comes in at 36% for EV driver owners and 43% for HEV owners.
In a recent webinar hosted by AIA Canada, David Giles of Powered EV Ltd. and Rick Nadeau of Quorus Consulting Group, which authored the study, pointed to this chasm.
“The gap between the aftermarket and the dealerships is quite stark,” said Nadeau. “Even ICE vehicle owners, many of whom don’t even use dealerships, when asked about EVs maintenance and repairs, would still believe that the dealership would outperform the aftermarket 44% versus 14%.
“It is an important barrier for electric vehicle owners – and even to some extent, hybrid vehicle owners – from going to the aftermarket for their maintenance and repair.”
“It’s a new technology and as with anything, you do have a lot of warranty [work] out there on the vehicles,” offered Giles. “So that becomes a challenge, because these vehicles are having these extended warranties. Some vehicles are already into the 240,000 kilometre powertrain warranties, like we see in some of the Teslas. The warranty issue forces consumers to bring their vehicles back to a dealership for that type of work. At the same time, [they go back to the dealerships] because they feel that the local service shop hasn’t seen enough of these vehicles.
“They forget that routine maintenance – things like brake caliper servicing, brake service, tires and alignment and suspension, if it’s not under warranty, can all be done by a local service provider.”
Still, there might be some promise on the horizon: when asked what the barriers were to using an ASP, among those aware of local ASPs, only 5% said untrained mechanics were a barrier; some 76% said there were no barriers at all.