ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Sitting in the back seat of a Ford Fusion as it drives itself through a roundabout in a faux city on the University of Michigan campus here, I think about how self-driving vehicles will transform the service business.
The Fusion's trunk is filled with computer equipment. The midsize car's exterior has two lidar units.
Cameras, radar and other sensing equipment help the car know where it is. These components make today's complex cars seem like Tonka toys.
Autonomous vehicles could be among the biggest disruptors the service business has ever had. That may not be bad for franchised new-car dealers.
"Given the safety-critical nature of [autonomous vehicle] technologies, customers might strongly prefer strict adherence to OEM service processes and the use of original service equipment when it comes to maintaining and repairing AV systems," the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said in a recent report.
"This could imply a disadvantaged position for independent service providers unable to afford AV maintenance systems," the report added.