Volvo has already made waves with its announcement that it will be fully electric by 2030, and now the company is pushing for change again, stating that its EV models will only be sold online, with software updates delivered remotely. The news is being received as grim tidings for the millions who work in car dealerships.
Volvo’s initial “batteries or bust” decision is a bet by the Swedish automaker that, “as EVs are becoming cheaper and new conventional cars are being priced higher, consumers’ math on electric-versus-internal combustion will soon come out in electrics’ favour,” writes Bloomberg Green.
While a Volvo win on that bet will also be a clear win for consumers—if a slightly murkier result for the climate (going all in on EVs and letting public transit decline will not be good for the atmosphere)—there will be losers in the acceleration away from the combustion engine.
Before Volvo heralded its online sales and service plan, the U.S. automobile support industry was already bracing for the obsolescence of nearly a million gas station jobs. Now, Bloomberg notes, dealerships are feeling the pinch, too.
“There are almost 118,000 car and parts dealers” in the country, physical spaces and places that “employ nearly two million people,” writes the news magazine. More than half of those employees work in sales, while another 30% are technicians and mechanics.
Going digital on sales and service will run a steamroller through that sector, changing “not only the number of people needed to sell a car, but also the nature of their jobs and where they work”—no salespeople, no office managers, no janitors. And the fact that EVs “have far fewer moving parts than internal combustion engine vehicles” could mean fewer mechanics, as well.
And the outlook for that last group is due to get worse, with Tesla “setting the standard, doing not just over-the-air updates but also upgrades,” Bloomberg adds.
“These aren’t just patches or fixes; they’re permanent enhancements, which will keep cars on the road longer with—you guessed it—less maintenance.”