Since even before the days of films such as Back to the Future, as a society we’ve been fantasising about what the car of the future could look like. Fast forward to today, and growing environmental and health concerns have led to petrol and diesel cars being banned from sale from 2040 onwards.
The announcement is in line with an increasing move towards electric cars and automation. Current predictions suggest cars could soon have radically different interiors and layouts due to being driverless, with home assistant-style technology replacing in-car displays and touchscreen systems replacing buttons altogether.
But what do all these advances mean for the car garage? With technology replacing drivers, will it replace the mechanic too?
While autonomous cars are still the cars of tomorrow, young mechanics are being trained on them today. The industry has recognised that in order to keep up, apprentices need to know what technology is coming in while garage owners need to be well-informed to be able to support them and adapt their businesses accordingly.
The software developers and researchers themselves are best-placed to understand what new automotive technology can and can’t do and what levels of training are needed to get to grips with it. Subsequently, many garage owners are now spending more on training than ever before.
From mechanic to technician
The classic image of the mechanic sliding out from under a car covered in grease is fading away. The role of the mechanic today is more one of a technician, with increased levels of competency in mathematics and electronics needed to understand the complex systems of today’s vehicles.
There are more data points involved in monitoring the journey of an autonomous vehicle than in the flying an Air Bus aeroplane across the Atlantic. As a result of this car repair has become a more academic profoession, while the car garage itself is likely to soon more closely resemble a laboratory than a one-stop shop.
A profession that isn’t going away
While computer systems are replacing drivers, it is predicted that job opportunities for car mechanics will increase to cope with advancing technology.
A move towards automation should bring with it a reduction in accidents, while some cars are already able to diagnose a problem and notify owners before stepping foot in a car garage.
However, once that problem is diagnosed, vehicle mechanics will still be needed to understand how to solve it and replace the parts of an increasingly complex system. This means tools such as the car jacks available from SGS Engineering are likely to stick around, while mechanics themselves may become better paid.