The automotive industry – from design to manufacturing to your local independent auto repair shop in Burke, Virginia – is really changing in exciting ways. We’re beginning to see and hear about a lot of innovations that – in the not too distant future – will be available on most car models not just in high-end or luxury vehicles. The reason is that these new developments are not just style and comfort features but new designs in energy efficiency and improved safety. And the benefits are not just for the passengers of the individual car but other drivers on the road, and the larger Northern Virginia community as well.
Some innovations are being driven by new federal and state laws. By 2025, federal fuel standards will require new cars to average 54.5 miles per gallon. But we are already seeing improvements in gas mileage in most cars, with auto makers retooling and redesigning to make cars lighter and more aerodynamics. They have also made changes to transmissions and drive trains, and other components, that improve fuel economy. According the U.S. News this is amounting to real savings at the pump – as much as over $500 a year for each 5 miles gained in efficiency.
Sometimes states lead the way. Another recent law coming out of the state of Massachusetts requires car manufacturers to make available to independent auto repair shops such as ours in Burke VA the same car repair information system available to franchised dealers. By 2018, the new law will require the tools and data to be made available through a standard interface to anyone with a laptop. They, of course, can charge for this. The possibilities are quite interesting in the long-term. Imagine data about your vehicles auto repairs and maintenance stored in an on-board diagnostics system, which allows you and your auto mechanic in Burke VA to track the performance of your car over the years. This can be useful too if you have to move or want to sell your car. Records could be available to the next party who cares for the car.
Such a system might really become more transparent. Instead of a check engine warning light coming on, your car may eventually tell you exactly what is wrong. Imagine instead a voice or digital reader that tells you have leak in a hose, that your oil is low or that you need brake service. Northern Virginia drivers won’t have to worry any more about what the problem might be. Car owners sometimes put off going to a mechanic for the same reasons they avoid doctors – they’re worried about the diagnosis and the cost. This system could relieve some of those anxieties and encourage regular auto maintenance that prevents bigger problems.
Sound far-fetched? We already have cars that signal us when we’re about the hit a curb or another vehicle when parking. What would you say if you heard that “talking” cars might be mandatory in the future? The U.S. Transportation Department is testing a fleet of cars with wireless devices that track speed and traffic patterns to see if they improve safety and traffic situations. The vehicles alert drivers to events such as changing lights and other drivers entering the driver’s blind spots.
All of these innovations are leading to a great demand for auto mechanics with aptitude in electronics and computer-controlled systems. Auto repair shops will have their own equivalent of the Genius Bar or Geek Squad. A car tune-up will make sure the car’s diagnostic and other computer systems are working properly. Credentials such as the ASE-Certified Master Auto Technicians continually evolve to ensure auto repair shops such as Burke are keeping up with this fast changing industry, so you’ll want to be sure you are using a mechanic with this backing.
These are all exciting innovations to watch and big opportunities for the auto industry. Whether driven by laws, regulation, or consumer interests, these types of changes ensure a more sustainable industry as we all drive into the future.