In fact, most young people have never used that technology. Many don't even know how it worked. Precisely the same is set to happen in the motor industry. Car maintenance and repairs are about to undergo a metamorphosis.
According to George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO, this change is coming about thanks to two seemingly unrelated factors: the Right to Repair campaign and the growth in online shopping.Central to the Right To Repair campaign is a premise that car owners are empowered to choose where they service their vehicles without risk of voiding the warranty. Previously, motor manufacturers would void the warranty if a vehicle was not serviced at one of the original equipment manufacturer's dealerships.
The guidelines published by the Competitions Commission have now declared this practice as incompatible with the Competitions Act. Independent service providers can now service cars under warranty, and the practice of voiding warranties is void. The date of implementation is 1 July 2021. From this date onwards, the Commission may act against market players not following the guidelines.
The second factor to which Mienie refers – the growth in online shopping – has been fast-forwarded by the pandemic. Online shopping has been showing consistent growth since 1979 when it was first invented by an English investor named Michael Aldrich (Yes, 1979 is correct; 'electronic shopping' was created before the internet; he used a television, computer and telephone line to make it possible.) But the pandemic saw more and more people staying home and shopping from home. Last year, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed $4.2 trillion worldwide.
South Africans are shopping up a storm online too. Rand Merchant Bank expects the sector's value to surge by 150%, to R225 billion, within the next five years. This shopping behaviour will extend to the automotive sector.
"Online shopping is commonplace for anything and everything from grocery orders to fashion items and even cars. So why not car parts?" Mienie ponders.
We're already seeing automotive components being sold online, for instance, tyres. "When coupled with the Competition Commission's guidelines, it will be interesting to see how consumer car maintenance and repair behaviour in South Africa changes in the future," Mienie concludes.
Could the conventional car maintenance and repair scenario suffer the same fate as the telegram, telex and facsimile? Just maybe …