Automotive Trades that will be Affected by Electric Cars


Capitalism, or "the market", is about rewarding those who provide goods and services that other people want to pay for. Innovators innovate. Innovation inevitably creates winners as well as losers. It has been so ever since the first wheeled cart freed people from carrying goods on their back. The steam locomotive eliminated the trade of stage-coach driver. The automobile eliminated the horse-related trades that applied to transportation (still needed for horse racing, riding sports, ranching, etc). The switch from coal to diesel eliminated colliery in some countries; still needed for (polluting) coal-fired power plants in some countries. The computer obsoleted many accounting and clerical jobs. The wheeled suitcase eliminated many porter and busboy jobs. ATMs have reduced the staffing in banks and financial institutions. The personal computer downsized the mainframe computer industry. The smartphone downsized the personal computer industry. The internet will eventually eliminate the institution of government-run post offices. Uber drove some taxi companies out of business. In many cases, the replacements needed as many people, just with different training. This is certainly not always the case. As well, a reduction in trade barriers has lead to off-shoring, which has moved many manufacturing jobs from North America to places like Asia and Africa. "These jobs are going, boys, and they ain’t coming back, to your home town."--Bruce Springsteen

Electric vehicles are coming to replace the gasoline/diesel powered ones of the 20th century. Consumers will benefit by spending less on fuel and much less on repairs. Even though EVs appear to cost more to buy at the moment, they already cost less in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and this will only get better due to economies of scale. This document attempts to categorize the automotive trades (job descriptions/business categories) that will be affected as Electric Cars and Trucks (EVs) continue to "shock our world." It’s both meant as guidance for those choosing a career (no point heading into a dead end), and for those who will be directly affected (like those mentioned in the list).

Table 1. Legacy Auto Trades vs EVs
Trade name What will happen Suggestions

Assembly/Manufacturing

Job losses-many fewer parts

Retrain

Auto Detailing

No change; EVs still need to look good

-

Auto Glass Shops

No change; EVs still have windows

-

Brake work

Reduced; EVs use regenerative braking

-

Car Dealerships

Reduced staffing

EVs last longer, many can be bought online

Car Wash

No change; EVs don’t mind rain or wash water

-

Emissions testing

Done

Retrain

Engineering-Software

More software

Grow curriculum for automotive software engineering

Engineering-Hardware

May be level as ICE engineering budgets see funding shifted to EVs

-

EV Sales

Gaining

Legally, may need traditional auto sales training/licensing (e.g., OMVIC in Ontario)

First Responders

200,000 fewer car fires/year

Train for handling EV emergencies

Fuel delivery (tankers)

Falling demand

Electrify your trucks and expand into other markets

Gas/Petrol Stations

Falling demand

See Note 1 below

Insurance

No change

-

Muffler shops

Gone

Retool, possibly to become EV battery rapid-replacement centres

Oil companies

Continually falling fuel demand (steady demand for plastics)

Downsize and Diversify, maybe into mining for battery materials

Oil change shops

Going

Rebrand as lube shops - EV bearings need lube (rarely, but with a lot on the road…​)

Repair shops

Engine, Transmission, Mufflers going

Retrain on battery, motor work

Suspension/alignment etc.

Cars will be hitting potholes until the world ends

-

Tires, tire recycling

More sales (heavy cars with instant torque)

-

Tow trucks

Reduced work - EVs have many fewer moving parts

Offer emergency recharging

Transmission shops

Gone

Retrain

Wreckers

Less work

Learn where to recycle batteries

Note 1: Gas/Petrol stations: Build/expand "Fast Food and Fast Charging (FFFC)" locations (as most EVs will be charged at home). Optimize locations for long-commuter routes, and/or near condo/apartment/city centres (as their residents may not be able to charge at home). New job description (part time, mixed with other duties): Charging Concierge (Chargiere?) to move cars around and plug them in for people parking their cars for longer than the hour or so it takes to charge, such as at work or when doing a long shopping expedition.

As can be seen, the hardest-hit will be car factory assembly workers and single-product repair shops like muffler replacements and transmission shops. Some of the changes will have bigger ripple effects on largely-single-product economies such as oil-producing fiefdoms (Alberta, some Middle East and African countries, etc). They will need to innovate more to find new economic activities, just like everyone else who has been "disrupted" by new market forces all through history. Similar changes are happening in the food industry, which could also hurt Alberta’s economy if the food producers there fail to adapt to disruption: see this article on Forbes. A further disruption coming to the automotive field is autonomous vehicles, which can of course be either gasoline or electric, and which may have equal or greater effects. This would be a topic for an additional article.

Where will these automotive workers go? There will be lots of jobs created in what is now called "alternative energy" though it will someday soon be as mainstream as hydro-electric and nuclear, This field is better called "renewable" energy. For example, solar power is free for the life of the panels once you install them (it renews itself every day at sunrise). But the panels will likely need replacing (and be replaced with higher-efficiency panels created by continuing competition and research) in a few decades. The combination of solar + batteries is unbeatable for home use. Even venerable generator maker Generac is moving from diesel-powered generators to battery-based home energy storage.

For more on the job transitions to green energy, see this Canadian Free Press article on City News.

For more on the speed of the transition, see Globe & Mail article.

Thanks to the many people who commented on earlier drafts.