No Problem! Dealers Plan to Adapt to Autonomous Vehicle Service

Each month we ask members of our National Advisory Council (NAC) a question or questions on a current hot topic. Recently we asked, “What do you think of autonomous vehicles? Do you think ‘self-driving’ or ‘driverless’ vehicles will catch on? If so, how soon? How will they change your service department?”

Here are a couple of responses.

1. It’s too early to tell. I would imagine we would just have to adapt to repair these types of vehicles. One year ago I would have said this would happen well in the future, but after the progress in such a short time, I don’t think it will be very long.

2. Self-driving or driverless vehicles will catch on as we could be more productive during our commutes to work, or on trips we can take any stress out of driving — to an extent. A component of this discussion also includes how vehicle ownership may decrease as well, which could raise some concern for our industry. By and large, driving and cars are an important part of the American culture and I would not expect to see the demise or vehicles or driverless vehicles take over a large segment of the market for this reason. One segment of the population that may really benefit with this technology is the older or “graying” segment of our population as it offers another method of mobility when a license may not be an option. This segment of the population is growing exponentially, as well. Concerning the service of these types of vehicles, I do not anticipate any negative repercussions as these vehicles would need similar services and service intervals.

What’s on your mind?

We also asked council members what was on their mind. Here are some responses.

Millennials seem to be getting a lot of attention in our industry and sometimes it can come across as negative. I am encouraged as I’m seeing more and more of this segment engaged at local car shows. Their fascination and interest covers the entire gamut of cars — antiques, exotic, custom, rat rods, imports, domestic, etc., and they share the same interest as some of us old guys by wanting to save a buck and have the satisfaction of saying, “I did this or that.”

Jon Shields, Field Sales and Training, Carroll Tire Co., Atlanta, Ga.

Truly, cannot help but wonder not if, but when, the tariff on medium commercial imports might be brought back to the forefront.

Tripp Lee, General Manager, Frasier Tire Service Inc., Sumter, S.C.

I don’t understand how the large manufacturers are raising prices on commercial tires while the Chinese import prices are dropping very fast.

Bill Ziegler, President, Ziegler Tire & Supply Co., Massillon, Ohio

Both Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Continental Tire the Americas LLC raised prices on their commercial tires twice so far in 2017. — Ed.

Comment from our website

Re: The article on “Using ‘return on sales’ measurement to guide purchases” by Dennis McCarron (from the May issue of Modern Tire Dealer):

This is a good article, but the math is flawed because it ignores the difference in fixed costs and variable costs.

Name withheld upon request

You are right in that it “ignores” fixed and variable costs. It is intentional, though. It is meant as a guideline, or a starting point, in determining purchases/upgrades/expenses, not a rule, per se.

I would never apply this in a harsh way, it would be a conversation starter.

Good point to bring up, though!

Dennis McCarron, Executive Director, Dealer Strategic Planning 20 Group

Join Modern Tire Dealer’s National Advisory Council

Each month, Modern Tire Dealer is guided and influenced by a select group of readers — members of our National Advisory Council. These members’ opinions are the heart of the monthly Your Marketplace column, compiled by industry analyst Nick Mitchell. If you’d like to join this prestigious group, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Contact Editor Bob Ulrich at or call (330) 899-2200, ext. 11.

To see more Your Turn columns, see:

How Does Tire Makers' Sports Marketing Influence Dealers' Sales?

Online Tire Buyers Seen as Savvy Buyers or 'Bottom Feeders'

Dealers Hope New President Will be Good for Business

Related Topics: autonomous vehicles, MTD National Advisory Council, National Advisory Council, Your Turn

Lori L. Mavrigian Managing Editor
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