We’ve heard it all before.
Robots will replace us at work. Self driving cars will ruin taxi drivers (not like Uber’s done that already), and replace truckers. Social media will melt the minds of the young generation, just like the internet, TV and radio.
But it hasn’t happened. Except for maybe for the social media bit, which sort of got all of us.
Robots aren’t taking anyone’s jobs. They can dance and do backflips now, but they can’t care for patients in hospitals, or even make a decent cup of tea.
Self driving cars were supposed to be mainstream by 2019, according to Ford’s own predictions. But today, that dream has been abandoned: after years of work and billions of dollars, Ford pulled the plug on autonomous vehicle development in October 2022.
Still, cars get more technologically advanced every year – and we’ve got to the point now where the average modern family car has more sensors, motors, microchips and processing power than the Apollo modules that flew to the moon.
So, in an age where cars can practically self-diagnose their problems, and order parts for themselves over the internet, do we even need garages for car repairs anymore?
MORE COMPUTER THAN CAR
Yes, there’s a lot of computing power and high-tech wizardry going on in cars now. But is it rocket science?
Hardly. It’s more like replacing the analog wires, jumpers, controllers and sensors with digital equivalents – and routing it through a device about as familiar as your smartphone.
Cars have been complex for decades: functions like ABS and ESP are standard now, but they once posed a challenge to mechanics who’d never encountered them before.
Did that kill car repairs?
Or how about when the first digital onboard computers found their way onto dashboards – controlling everything from a centralised unit; did that kill car repairs?
Or how about nowadays, where entire cars and their components are digitally controlled through software – has that killed car repairs?
No. And here’s why.
SOME THINGS WITH CARS NEVER CHANGE
Cars are physical machines. No amount of digitisation can change that. At some point, you can’t computerise the machine anymore. It will always need spinning wheels, braking systems, coolants, lubrication, seatbelts, watertight seals – it’s still got to be a car.
Internal combustion engines, whether hybrid or old-fashioned, aren’t going anywhere any time soon. They need servicing regularly, and repairs when they wear out. But even electric cars need the same treatment. Wheels don’t stay aligned forever, just because the car’s electric. Tyres and brake pads will still wear out. LEDs don’t last forever. And even the most well-engineered machine in the world can break in unexpected ways.
Sure, some cars are 5G connected to their manufacturers now. One day, they’ll probably drive themselves to their maker, for MOT and servicing, at a subscription cost (judging by how everything’s going at the moment).
Is that what we really want?
Maybe it is for some – but we feel like our customers trust us, and bring their cars to us because we’re experts; not because we’ve got an automated calendar of scheduled car repairs and maintenance built-in.
The human touch of your local garage, familiar faces, and expert knowledge – or at least the curiosity to find the root of problems – is why people come to mechanics.
And that will never change.