The world of the auto repair technician is changing rapidly. Mechanics still need hands-on skills and ratchet wrenches. But as the industry moves forward, vehicles continue to be packed with complex electronics that do a lot more than take people from point A to point B.


Today’s vehicles entertain, communicate and protect. Software, data and sophisticated new diagnostic tools add a whole new aspect to the trade. Customers are driving computers, and auto techs need to repair them.


A report by McKinsey, “Ready for inspection: The Automotive Aftermarket in 2030,” predicted that vehicles will soon contain up 300 million lines of code. Kelly Blue Book recently published a list of 10 Best Automotive Technologies for 2021, which is directly in line with the report’s findings:


  • Advanced Driver Assist Systems
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Connected Mobile Apps/Digital Keys
  • Teen Driver Technology
  • Exit Warnings to Protect Cyclists
  • Wireless Smartphone Charging and Connectivity
  • 360-Degree Cameras
  • Video Rearview Mirrors
  • Stolen Vehicle Tracking Systems
  • Blind-Spot View Monitoring


The McKinsey report advised manufacturers to accelerate software and electronics training for service technicians. This makes sense considering the craft has evolved more in the last 10 years than it has since the first Model T rolled off the line. Autonomous driving is a thing. Connectivity is constant. Processes like sensor calibration are critical to repair.


Another Kinsey Report, outlines the evolution of systems for electrical vehicles: “Automotive electrical and electronic (E/E) technology will continue to become more centralized and consolidated. For instance, fourth-generation systems will have centralized domain controllers, and fifth-generation systems will employ a combination of cross-domain vehicle computers and zone controllers.” They continue, “Regulatory boundaries will require different hardware and software stacks in China than in Europe and North America.” In terms of servicing the next generation of vehicles, knowledge and accuracy will be the hallmarks of a well-trained auto tech. Repair facilities will need to adapt. Shop Management Systems (SMS) will become more sophisticated to keep things running smoothly.


Understanding these systems will be key to accessing information and providing diagnostics. Digital vehicle inspections will not only make repairs more exact, but studies show it’s an excellent way to communicate directly with customers.


As technology transforms the trade, the pros will have even more ways to shine and show their expertise. It’s going to be interesting to see what the U.S. AutoTech National Championships (USATNC) will look like in 5 or 10 years. It’s an exciting thought—and we’ll be right there with you every step of the way.