Car culture has been synonymous with American society for over 100 years. Vehicle ownership has long embodied American independence and self-reliance, and car care, repair and modification have long defined how we connect with our cars.
Today, as we stand on the precipice of an electrification revolution, America’s relationship with its automobiles is poised to change as well.
While it could be assumed that EVs — with their simpler, smaller powerplants that require less repair and maintenance than traditional vehicles — would be DIYers dream, that has not been the case.
Instead, electric vehicle makers have kept the underlying codes that control their vehicles close to the chest, creating a digital firewall between mechanics, DIYers and owners and their vehicles. Today, the question of whether the average owner or repair shop had the ability to work on a car has become a question of if they have permission to.
While efforts to pass “right to repair” laws requiring manufacturers to provide owners sufficient software access to their vehicles are working their way through statehouses around the country, the automotive industries have a tremendous opportunity to seize this moment.
As EV’s programming becomes accessible, brands and businesses in the automotive space — from manufacturing to maintenance and repair — need to be rethinking their offering and extend their capabilities to embrace, inspire and service a new generation of EV enthusiasts.
Those in the vehicle service industries, like quick change oil shops for example, should consider offering EV diagnostics and tunning optimizations to improve range or performance — much as they already do with replacement air filters or spark plugs.
Part manufactures should consider selling performance parts in optional hardware or software formats — like the gaming industry offers hard disks or digital downloads — to cater to both traditional and EV owners.
Parts retailers should reimagine their repair and customization offerings into a broader UX portfolio with custom interfaces, displays, etc.
Brand of all types have a new opportunity to connect with aspiring EV DIYers eager to tinker with and tailer their EV’s user experience — much as android once attracted a tech savvy clientele eager to “jailbreak” their iPhone.
Those in the internal combustion industry shouldn’t narrowly view EVs as a threat. Instead, they should embrace EV’s “right to repair” movement as a growing opportunity to reignite consumer involvement in their products, their brands, and pride in vehicle ownership among the next generation of DIYers.