Shifting to electric and hybrids vehicles will impact every element of the automotive sector, including auto service and parts, as well as how we have our cars maintained. For service centers, the modifications include new equipment for working on electric motors as well as high-voltage batteries, charging points in service centers, and training for specialists who operate on them – all while sales volume for strictly battery-powered electric vehicles remains small for the time being.
“We don’t wait until demand is determined because it puts us behind,” Marko Ibrahim, who is the president of Bridgestone Retail Operations, explained. “We try to predict where the puck will travel and strive to arrive first.” Bridgestone Americas, based in Nashville, owns roughly 2,200 tire and vehicle repair locations in the United States under the Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus, Wheel Works, and Hibdon Tires Plus brands.
Starting early this year, the firm stated that it would construct 50 Level 2 plug-in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at 25 Firestone Complete Auto Care and Wheel Works locations in Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Austin, Texas, in collaboration with Blink Charging. In addition, new-car dealerships are modernizing their service and parts centers in order to prepare for the increased use of electric vehicles.
According to Elaine Buckberg, GM’s chief economist, in a recent webinar held by the Detroit-based Society of Automotive Analysts, the US auto industry expects 153 electric vehicles on the market by 2025, up from 24 in 2020. Meanwhile, Bridgestone is expanding its EV servicing skills at 44 locations in Austin and San Francisco, allowing them to operate on the high-voltage systems used in battery-powered electric vehicles.
Bridgestone Retail Operations has long been prepared to service lower-voltage gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles. “By 2021, we’ll have serviced 400,000 electrified and hybrid vehicles,” Ibrahim stated in a recent phone interview. Ibrahim said the company operated a trial plan for technician work and training on high-voltage systems at 15 places in the Austin metro region before the latest expansion. “We started this trip four years ago,” he remarked.
Furthering the company’s sustainability goals, Bridgestone retail stores participate in a robust recycling program that has resulted in the diversion of 12.7 million tires, 18.1 million metal drums from landfills, and 5.6 million pounds of scrap metal by 2020, in addition to a reduction in paper consumption equivalent to one Central Park worth of trees.