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How Information Access Shapes the EV Transition

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April 11, 2022—Long before electric vehicles even existed, people have talked about how they could be the cars of the future. But at this point, they are not some far-off prospect. They are happening, they are here, and customers are buying them. So what is to be done when the foundation of a repair shop’s philosophy has been established by the existence of internal combustion engines? Certainly it is not a switch that will happen all at once.


The existence of ICEs won't simply be erased overnight, but it will undoubtedly become more and more common to see EVs pulling into repair bays on a regular basis. In fact, as many shop owners can attest to, it already has. In the 2022 Crash Course annual report put out by CCC Intelligence Solutions, they analyze this phenomenon in a way that hits close to home.


“I’m seeing the typical amount of total sales a single estimator can handle decline, because the estimating process continues to become more complex, including research of OEM repair information,” says Mike Anderson, who conducts quarterly “Who Pays for What” surveys with the CRASH Network. “I’m starting to see a few shops with an employee doing nothing but scanning vehicles and researching OEM repair procedures. I think it will be interesting to watch this moving forward.”


The act of researching direct OEM information comes across as simply putting a band aid on the overall issue for independent shop owners. To add insult to injury, the process of doing so is more than likely at odds with the philosophy of problem solving that shop owners want to pursue. Although OEMs have access to a vast array of the information regarding new vehicle technology, that is not always the case for independent shop owners.


“There are very few companies today that are familiar with the nuances, scale, and challenges of standardizing telematics data for use across industries,” the Crash Course report says. “Among the challenges to implement include consumer consent management; data collection, ingestion, standardization and security, entity management and permissions.”


With all of that context in mind, this has understandably grown into quite the hot-button issue. The Crash Course report uses this opportunity to give an example of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Law Vehicle Data Access Requirement, which state residents voted into law in November 2020.


Right to Repair aims for data transparency and accessibility. It states that vehicles sold with telematics systems in Massachusetts have to provide both the vehicle owner and independent repair facilities the right to run diagnostics and access mechanical data through an open data platform. Its purpose is to even the playing field, in a sense, because telematics are known for offering their own set of unique challenges.


“Unlike relatively fixed repair data, telematics data is constantly evolving at the pace of innovation,” according to the report. “Playing a crucial role in the operation of a vehicle, its dynamic nature, and the vital role it plays in active operations all add a new layer of complexity to data access and control.” 


It would be interesting to see if what is happening in Massachusetts could be replicated across the United States someday, because the ideology has already started making the rounds. It is crucial to stay at the crux of telematics because electric vehicle sales continue to rise rapidly. According to data cited in the report, EV sales will surpass more than two million units sold annually by 2025. If shops want to make a smooth transition from solely ICE to EV or, perhaps more accurately, a mix of ICE and EV, understanding and having access to repair procedures and telematic data on these new vehicles is essential.


Facing the future head-on is not an easy task, but it is something that the aftermarket must be willing to tackle in order to gain the information that is necessary to successfully serve customers, and to foster future relationships. Gaining access to the ever-changing landscape of EVs could prove to be an ongoing challenge, but it is not an unworthy endeavor as this is what will shape the future of repair shops in real time. 

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