FullSpeed Automotive In for the Long Haul on EVs
If 2021 was the Year of the EV and promises of an all-electric future, let’s consider 2022 as the year to figure out how to keep those promises.
This isn’t the first time a trendy new technology has garnered national headlines, but the emergence and rapidly growing prominence of electric vehicles over the last couple of years has become more than just a fad.
“Nothing that I can think of has gotten the amount of attention (as EVs), both from a governmental approach as well as the amount of coverage and notoriety,” says Kevin Kormondy, CEO of FullSpeed Automotive. “Electric vehicles are seen as a very substantial way to address some of those environmental issues while driving us toward fewer carbon emissions.”
Because of that sustained attention, aftermarket shops are caught in the middle of a balancing act: Though EVs still only account for less than 1 percent of the total number of vehicles on the road in the U.S., there will come a time in the next decade or so when that percentage will drastically jump, making it hard to completely ignore the coming wave.
Kormondy says that he understands and appreciates where some of the apprehension about when and how much to invest in EVs comes from shop owners. However, specifically for quick oil shops, many of the same services that are offered for ICEs–brakes, tires, wiper blades, filters, etc.–are applicable to EV service as well.
“They are and they aren’t dramatically different,” Kormondy says. “EVs still have a need for many of the services that we provide beyond just changing the oil. There are a number of services that we provide already in the normal course for our oil change customers that are certainly portable over to fully electric vehicles.”
Kormondy says oil change facilities in general, and FSA’s Grease Monkey and SpeeDee brands specifically, are uniquely positioned to handle the EV transition as well or better than any other segment of the automotive aftermarket.
“From our perspective and the way that our systems have been established, we’ve always addressed opportunities to help our guests with more than just a straight oil change,” Kormondy says. “As we take care of our guests, we look to review those things so that we can take care of them from a convenience and overall great guest experience point.
The real hurdle for quick lubes, then, isn’t what services are being offered. Instead, it’s about making sure EV owners know that they can still come to your shop for those services.
“There’s a marketing element that we need to develop that we haven’t yet that makes EV owners aware of those services … and endear those EV customers to our locations,” Kormondy says.
FullSpeed is currently in the formulative stages of developing an EV-specific service package, though Kormondy says it probably won’t look much different than its current service offering.
The point isn’t to drastically change the service but instead change the public perception of who can get that service.
“We’re certainly conscious of the (EV) market and the planned growth for the market … and we’re addressing thoughts and ideas as to how we can participate more effectively with that population of vehicles as it evolves,” Kormondy says, “but we’re also realistic enough to realize that today, the bulk of the cars that out there on the road are prime candidates for our services.”
Some of that shift in public perception will occur naturally over time. Since many automakers’ electric offerings are only a couple of years old, those vehicles are still under warranty. As those vehicles age, more owners will begin looking to the aftermarket for repairs and maintenance.
Other parts of that shift fall to companies such as FullSpeed. As one of the largest quick oil brands in the nation, Kormondy says FullSpeed as a franchisor has both an opportunity and a responsibility to set the direction for each of its company-owned and franchised locations.
“Our organization gives us the opportunity, just with the way that we’re structured, to test different things in different markets collaboratively with our franchisees or with (our company-owned stores) as we look ahead as to what our game plan is going to be to determine what is going to work,” he says.
The shift to EVs will be a slow one, playing out over the next several decades. While larger companies such as FullSpeed have the resources to develop tools and services for EVs through test markets and research, the fruits of that investment won’t become apparent for quite some time.
Because of that, Kormondy says it would be in the best interest for smaller shops to dip their toes and not dive in head-first.
“If I’m an independent shop owner, I’d keep my ear to the ground,” Kormondy says, “but I don’t know that I’d go out there today and invest a whole lot of money in whatever equipment or technology is necessary until things start to develop more completely and with a clearer path.”
Image: FullSpeed Automotive