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Johnson: New Tech a Welcomed Challenge

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In the weeks leading up to its Summit this December in Nashville, ADAPT Automotive will talk with several keynote speakers and other presenters who will be at the conference about pressing topics and trends facing the industry.

Ben Johnson, Director of Product Management for Mitchell 1, spoke to ADAPT about new services his company will be offering in the near future to help shops get ahead of the electrification curve and the general positivity he has for the industry. 

As told to Digital Multimedia Editor Noah Brown

When you think about how a technician works, most of us as technicians almost work off of experience, right? No matter what kind of information we have, if we've seen it before, we know how to deal with it. 

Now, however, so much technology has been thrown at us in the last decade, and many times now when you get a car in the shop, it's the first time you've seen it. It's the first time you might've even tinkered with this technology. And it's not only the electrification of the vehicle, it's the mild hybrids that are now evolving, the plug-in hybrid models, the regular hybrid models.

There's just a lot of technology being thrown at the shops that makes it challenging, so we've actually invested quite a bit in our products to try to help, especially electrical diagnostics, become easier for the technician to deal with. We've put a lot of focus on that and we are excited to introduce some new services in the near future.

We look at this electrification evolution, and we see a lot of different forecasts as to how fast this is really going to ramp up. Of course the current administration would love it to happen really fast, and in California, we've got a stated goal of 100 percent emissions-free vehicles by 2035. 

But every forecast we've seen says that no matter what happens, even as late as 2030, over 95 percent of vehicles will still have an internal combustion engine of some kind, perhaps augmenting electrification to help lower the emissions and get closer to that. 

There's never been an evolution like this industry in the history that I've been around for, and yeah, I think there are a lot of challenges. I think a lot of technicians are going to probably be a little bit perplexed with having to deal with some of the things that are coming their way. 

But I also think it opens the doors and hopefully, I really believe that this industry should be attracting young people. People have to realize that you can make a really good living in a pretty clean environment. It's not all greasy parts and getting your hands dirty. There’s a lot of thinking required to understand and diagnose these systems as they begin to age and wear.

I really hope we attract more young people into the industry. We've got a lot of lawyers and doctors out there, and that's what the colleges still seem to be pushing, but there's a lot of demand for technicians and that demand is going to do nothing but increase for skilled thinkers that can diagnose, repair and maintain these vehicles that are coming to us.

And as you look 10 to 15 years in the future, it looks like the focus on autonomous has dwindled. It looks like the investments by the OEMs have largely shifted to the EV-type technologies, but both are still around and they need maintenance. There are a lot of opportunities as we continue to watch these technologies unfold. And of course we want to make sure that every technician has the tools he or she needs. There are a lot of organizations offering training in these technologies, and together in this kind of a loosely documented partnership that the industry players have together, I think there's nothing but blue skies ahead for this industry

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