It's 2030, and most new-car dealerships are reducing — and in some cases eliminating — on-site service for anything other than regular wear items.
Autonomous vehicles don't get into accidents. And because battery-electric powertrains reduce the number of moving parts in the driveline from hundreds to dozens, no maintenance is required. In fact, the warranty covers the vehicle's electric motor, drive unit and battery pack for the life of the vehicle. They are sealed, so repairs are impossible.
Occasional updates to the vehicle's operating system are handled over the air, a process now-defunct Tesla Motors pioneered in 2012. That is, in fact, the company's lasting legacy.
The demise of the internal combustion engine is solving a vexing problem the industry has wrestled with for nearly 50 years: a shortage of service technicians. Electric vehicles require no oil changes, radiator flushes, tuneups, transmission repairs or brake work. There is no exhaust system to repair or replace.
Windshield wiper fluid is the only consumable liquid in the vehicle. Replacing tires, aligning the wheels and changing the wiper blades and the occasional burned out headlight are about the only services dealerships offer these days.
When one of these regular wear items needs attention, the vehicle alerts its owner, schedules its own appointment and drives itself to an authorized maintenance center while the owner is at work or at home.
Vehicles are a lot more convenient and less expensive to own. But the passion that fueled consumers' love affair with the automobile is gone. It has become just another smart appliance.