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You may have heard the following prediction: The automotive industry will change more in the next 5 or 10 years than it has in the past 50 years. This era of change is not lurking around the corner, it’s already here.
Today, an owner of a new GM vehicle can activate a mobile app monitoring the status of critical systems and delivering vehicle health updates to their phone. The all-new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups offer six power train choices, industry-first trailering technology utilizing cameras and sensors, and active safety technologies like automatic braking. It’s a pickup truck that operates as a 4G WiFi hotspot! A Cadillac CT6 owner can enjoy Super Cruise, a high-tech driver assistance feature marking the first time a vehicle can be operated hands-free on the highway.
Those examples are just scratching the surface. We are in a new era in which transportation will become much more connected, safer, and sustainable. We at GM have a long-term mission to create a world with zero emissions, zero crashes, and zero congestion. That might seem like a distant goal, but as you can see from the examples above, this kind of vision is increasingly attainable Later this year, GM will begin launching new Cadillac vehicles and a next-generation Corvette that debut an entirely new electronic system, which should be rolled out to most vehicles within GM’s lineup by 2023. This system is capable of managing up to 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour, a five-fold increase! The massively increased capacity will enable vehicles to receive smartphone-like over-the-air software updates and functionality upgrades over their lifespan.
The future is now, and as automotive service professionals, we have to ask ourselves: Are we ready? Technology is already impacting service professionals, and the changes are positive. As a leader of GM’s Customer Care and Aftersales organization, one of our key priorities is to transform the technician environment, making it more centered on the customer experience.
GM launched Techline Connect this spring, combining several systems into one. The Techline Connect application has a single sign-on for access to nine applications, seamlessly integrating Service Information (SI), a scan tool (GDS2), the Service Programming System (SPS), and other applications with vehicle-specific information. Using a technician-friendly dashboard with an intuitive interface, it automatically displays Investigate Vehicle History (IVH) information, Field Actions, and Warranty History when connected to a vehicle.
Looking ahead, researchers at GM are developing augmented reality applications using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. These can be applied to speed diagnostics or even predict component or system issues before they happen.
"We at GM have a long-term mission to create a world with zero emissions, zero crashes, and zero congestion"
It’s an incredible time, as service technical jobs have never been more sophisticated. But despite this growing sophistication and the fact that service careers offer good pay and job security, we still face a critical shortage of service technicians in the US. Some families and influencers under appreciate service careers as a pathway for young people. America’s colleges are using their powerful brands to attract more students to their campuses, at the expense of vocational schools.
We at GM are putting our energy and resources into treating automotive service as the strong technology career path that it should be. GM supports the ASE Education Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of automotive technician training programs nationwide.
GM’s aftermarket parts brand, AC Delco, provides free online training to more than 1,300 ASE Education Foundation-accredited high schools. AC Delco has sponsored the Larry Cotton Memorial Scholarship awarded to a student training to become a collision repair technician.
GM offers the Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) program at nearly 60 technical schools in the U.S. ASEP training combines state of the art automotive service with academic coursework and real-world internships to prepare students for a career as a technician. The job placement rate is near 100 percent for these students, given they work at a dealership or an AC Delco Service Center during their studies.
GM is partnering with seven ASEP schools in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to offer dozens of full-ride scholarships to aspiring new technicians. GM is also putting significant resources behind the Tech Force Foundation, sponsoring scholarships, and helping this organization engage young students at a grassroots level. One remarkable project that Tech Force has is focused on increasing gender diversity, as women traditionally have made up just three percent of the technician workforce. Additionally, GM sponsors Shifting Gears Fort Hood in Texas in collaboration with the military to educate and train technicians.
Finally, we are strengthening recognition programs rewarding current technicians for their excellence. GM’s Mark of Excellence program now has more than 12,000 technicians enrolled and pursuing awards nationwide, an increase of more than 4,000 from last year.
Advanced technology is changing all of our lives, and it is making automotive service more important and dynamic than ever. We all can play a role in boosting the reputation of automotive service careers. In a world with increasing change and uncertainty, automotive service careers should become a stronger option for people entering the workforce.