Autopromotec announced it recently hosted a discussion focused on electric vehicles and vehicle electronics and whether or not the automotive repair market is ready for them.
The number of hybrid and electric cars in circulation is steadily growing, together with cars equipped with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). New skills and dedicated equipment will be needed to address this technology.
Moderated by Cosimo Murianni, a journalist from Quattroruote Professional, the discussion featured panelists who explained to the audience how automotive repair businesses can stay competitive in a fast and steadily changing market.
Michele Pennese of Mecaprom, a company specializing in automotive engineering and prototype production, explained the evolution of electric motors as it relates to more and more stringent emissions regulations. Specific skills will be required in this area to address complex integrated systems and replace high-value components. Diagnostics, skilled manpower and dedicated services will be critical to working on electric cars. And professionals working in the repair shop will also change: from mechanic to mechatronic, from electric to electronic. The future of mobility will be electrical, autonomous and shared, and the change is already afoot and businesses must get ready to face it.
Marco Marello of Generali Jeniot, a company developing Internet of Things and Connected Insurance service, tackled the issue of the evolution of services relating to new technology trends in the market. The growing popularity of electric vehicles is also happening in Italy, though more slowly than other European countries. The analysts foresee two possible scenarios: the “base” one estimates an increase of 320,000 units from 2020 to 2025, to reach 1.8 million cars in 2030; the “accelerated development” estimates an increase of approximately 2 million units from 2020 to 2025 and an additional increase of 5.5 million by 2030. These numbers will lead to the development of dedicated services – from recharging columns to road rescue and vehicle maintenance systems. Marello also highlighted the opportunities tied to new two-wheeled electric mobility and micro-mobility trends, increasingly popular in large urban centers.
Domenico Ferrara of Hella Gutmann Solutions, a company specializing in diagnostic solutions and multi-brand repair, spoke about the evolution of service in repair shops. New technologies can be an opportunity for businesses, though they hinge on having very specific skills. Training is therefore a crucial step to repairing these complex systems, which may also have some consequences in terms of safety. ADAS systems are becoming increasingly common in new vehicles and the future of mobility is autonomous driving. Underestimating these trends is risky, and so therefore it’s important to be prepared. This evolution must first and foremost start with training and later move on to choosing the key components needed to calibrate and replace sensors, radars and cameras. It’s important to keep in mind that the repairer is required to guarantee functional safety of the vehicle. The goal of the repair shop is therefore to become specialized in order to stand out with high-value services and seize the new market opportunities.
New technologies, especially those relating to electric mobility, also bring about some changes in the management of the systems available in cars and the materials they’re made of. Being aware of such technologies is crucial in order to perform service using suitable maintenance and repair procedures. Soccorso Nino Gaeta of GVS, a manufacturer of filters and components for automotive applications, highlighted the importance of thermal management in electric vehicles. As opposed to traditional cars, electric cars generate small amounts of heat that are not sufficient to supply for the occupants. This is why advanced systems are needed for heating and cooling the cars, which must also be capable of reducing the amount of power absorbed from the battery in order to safeguard the mileage while ensuring optimal comfort in the car. These systems are also used to keep the battery temperature under control, allowing it to operate in optimal conditions in order to ensure maximum performance. New systems will require new equipment, both for diagnostics and maintenance.
Giacomo Davoli of FM Lab, an industrial research laboratory offering a broad range of services applied to the polymer production process design, discussed the issue of managing plastic materials in repair shops and body shops. Electric cars have components made of several different kinds of plastic for cost and weight reduction, so knowing the properties and characteristics of these plastics is crucial. When these materials are exposed to excessive heat or loads, they could weaken.
The conference ended by examining repairers’ need for correct information to work adequately and safely on hybrid and electric cars, as well as on ADAS systems.
For more information on Autopromotec, visit www.autopromotec.com.