Dealing with electric vehicles at your agency

How electric vehicles will change your business model

By Craig Van Battenburg

Let me explain how I ended up writing this article, as it might set the context for those who don’t know me. My relationship with tires, the most important part of any vehicle, begins with the fact that when I was a teenager, I only had two. They were installed on the Honda Scrambler that I rode to high school.

Later, she opened an independent repair shop, Van Battenburg’s Garage Inc. , where I sell tires. I’m also CEO of the Center for Career Development in Automobiles, a leading provider of training resources for electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles.

Based on my experience, I can tell you that the world around us is constantly changing. That includes switching to electric vehicles. (This article’s sponsor, Hancock, makes a variety of electric car tires.)

Is your agency ready to service these vehicles? Are you in a “state of mind for electric vehicles?” How you answer these questions will help determine your company’s future success.

I also know that as a business owner, you need data in order to make the right decisions for the future of your company.

So first, let’s take a look at the growth rate of electric vehicles globally.

Growth rates were exceptional during the first six months of 2021, reaching 157 percent in Europe, 197 percent in China, 166 percent in the United States, and 95 percent in the remaining global markets. Japan was the only market that did not see an increase.

What happened during the first half of 2021 that made this leap possible?

A new focus on electric vehicles in Washington, D.C. Several new electric vehicles are hitting the market, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E and some sleepers like the Kia Niro EV.

New electric cars from the likes of Rivian, Ford (with the Ford F-150 Lightning) and other companies will also be available.

And we’ve seen more hybrid vehicle owners move away from fossil fuels.

There are larger forces at play as well.

In 2019, annual US energy consumption from renewable sources exceeded coal consumption for the first time since before 1885, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s monthly energy review.

This result mainly reflects the continued decline in the amount of coal used to generate electricity over the past decade, as well as the growth in renewable energy, mostly wind and solar.

Compared to 2018, US coal consumption fell by about 15% and total renewable energy consumption grew by 1%.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t had much impact on electric vehicle sales, which were less than 2% during their early days. Meanwhile, conventional car sales are down 20%.

Many electric vehicle buyers feel responsible for the environment. And many responded financially because the cost of more electric vehicles is within their reach.

How much is this temporary? Most likely nothing, as more bad news will continue about fires and floods and the cost of electric vehicles will drop.

Now, if you’re not convinced that we’ll be all electric at some point in the future, you’re not alone. But here’s the problem. By sitting still and doing nothing, your competitors may outpace you. What if you waited too long and the street tire shop was doing everything and picking up the electric car market before you did? What’s Next?

If you want a bigger segment of the electric car business in your market, here are 10 tips to keep in mind. (I recommend doing one every month.)

  1. Meet your entire staff and get feedback on how and what they think about EVs and EV service;
  2. Rent or borrow a modern electric vehicle and have it in store for all employees to see and drive;
  3. Find out if you have a local competition;
  4. Find training for everyone, including service writers, salespeople, and technicians;
  5. Look for government programs that will help fund workforce development;
  6. Find out if a DC fast charger or a level 2 charger can be installed in your parking lot;
  7. Check with your local utility provider for software that helps install and pay for the charger;
  8. Visit a local technical college or high school that has a motoring program and see what they do with electric vehicles;
  9. Attend an electric vehicle event and talk to EV owners about what to expect, and
  10. When you roll out your EV program, make sure you’re ready. Go all in.

Let me leave you with this story. On October 15, 1999, I walked into my local Honda dealership with my checkbook and told the salesperson there, “I want to buy a Honda Insight.”

She replied, “What is insight?”

I told her it was a hybrid car.

Her response was, “What is a hybrid?”

“Will you take my money?” Then I asked.

This exchange led me to open the Automotive Career Development Center, which offers practical lessons in the field of hybrid cars. In 2010, we naturally added electric vehicles to the mix. (By the way, the 2000 Honda Insight I bought is still working.)

Make sure your agency is equipped to service electric vehicles and sell replacement tires for these vehicles. The torque is instant and the tire wears out too, so keep a close eye on electric cars and trucks as they can wear out tires faster than conventional cars.

You have seen many changes in our industry and you have to change with them in order to stay in the game and win. Today is a great day to start preparing.

To learn more about Hankook, click here.


Craig Van Battenburg is CEO of the Automotive Career Development Center (ACDC) of Van Battenburg’s Garage Inc. Headquartered in Worcester, Massachusetts. An expert in the auto service industry for 50 years, Van Battenberg, and his wonderful team provide training and equipment to auto service facilities that serveor want serviceElectric and hybrid cars. For more information see, email him at [email protected] or call 508.826.4546.


This article is part of MTD Tire Dealer Survival Guide Series. As more articles are released, they can be found below:

Technical compensation – how to stay competitive

How to get the most out of every phone call

How to build a strong leadership line

How to manage inventory and cash flow

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