Technological advances have been the back bone of the automotive industry since its inception, and have permeated and affected every aspect of our lives. The advancements do not start at the point of vehicle design and its production, as neither do the effects of these advancements come to a halt at the time of the vehicle purchase and the owners driving experience. New alloys have been developed, machining process have been invented, battery chemistry is changing, software has and will be written, fuel is not what it was, and the customer is now able to Skype using their own private onboard Wi-Fi network. And not to forget, the vehicle powertrain systems are becoming ever more electrified.
The knowledge and tooling needed in the automotive repair industry has had to adapt throughout the years, and repair shops have had to make the tough decisions if they would be able to service the onslaught of new technologically laden vehicles. For some shops it was difficult to switch over from servicing carbureted and Continuous Injection System (CIS) vehicles to the modern Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) vehicles. Just as some shops have had difficulty keeping up with the metric system, and making sure they are tooled up accordingly. These changes in the industry by now should be considered history for the most part, and the changes on the horizon are quite a bit more complex to adapt too.
Knowing basic electronics and understanding how hydraulic systems function is something that even a basic service and maintenance tech and/or mechanic has to fully understand. This is not a field where you can just step in of the street and wing it anymore; truthfully it has not been for quite a while. Are you able to understand and diagnose the various networks of communication between the various components and modules; their complexities and the basics of why these networks have to exist in the modern vehicle? Some technicians have found it difficult to diagnose electronic fuel injection, not just the electrical part of it, but the hydraulic part of the system; especially once the vehicle manufactures decided to switch over to return less fuel systems. Very much of the electronic system for the return less fuel injection are still the same, obviously the hydraulic system has changed, but do you understand the complexities of the changes in the software and how the Engine Control Module (ECM) makes it work now? Then things got interesting with the introduction of electronically controlled Direct Fuel Injection for gasoline fueled vehicles.
The next large step of evolution in the Automotive Industry has been to actually look to the past, and bring back from dead (at least it seemed that way) a technology that has laid dormant awaiting its return… electrification of the modern powertrain. We might not be ready as a society to have our cars run solely of electricity at the moment, but nevertheless change is upon us. We have hybrids vehicles that have their electric motors function in parallel and some in series with their fossil fuel engines. While there are some vehicles capable of switching their powertrain between parallel and series hybrid (aka Power-split Hybrid or Series-parallel Hybrid) depending on the needs of the vehicle and/or driver powertrain pre-selections. These vehicles are quickly becoming the norm, and innovation is pushing us ever closer to the horizon. Are you and your shop prepared to train and tool up for the new technologies? We are all very much comfortable doing the same thing that we have learned to do best, but we too have to evolve as the vehicles do to survive.
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