That’s the word from Tony Bowater, CEO Bowater Toyota a division of the Bowater Motor Group, a family-owned vehicle company spanning four generations.
Bowater Toyota has been operating in Nelson since 1945, selling new and used vehicles and providing automotive parts and repair services.
Tony has seen the industry change and respond to global trends over the years. He says that the industry is facing one of its biggest challenges yet with the rise of renewable fuels and automation.
But he’s extremely optimistic about the future and the role that automotive engineers will have in creating it.
Tony says the future is not about vehicles or fuels, rather it’s about mobility. People are always going to need to get from one place to another and the industry will continue to serve that need.
However, the industry will also need to be proactive in providing consumers with a range of vehicle and fuel types.
“Hydrogen will be for long haul like freight, electric vehicles will be for your cities and fossil fuels may still have their place in hybrids for longer journeys, but we will use that fuel at a much lower rate.”
Tony sees a future where the way in which we use vehicles is vastly different. We might see the Airbnb model being applied to vehicles, or vehicles being owned by apartment complexes and residents booking them on an as-needed basis.
“We have Lime scooters at the moment, there’s no reason why that couldn’t evolve into cars.”
As the industry continues to change, Tony believes there will always be a significant need for automotive engineers to service and maintain modern vehicles.
“If there are fully automated vehicles, these will need to be certified and checked for compliance.”
He says the way in which automotive engineers work may change, but their specialist knowledge is invaluable.
For example, Tony believes it may be possible to fix automated cars remotely, via the Internet, simply based on the error code the vehicle is giving.
Tony says the automotive industry is a “dynamic space” and will continue to transform with the times. It’s always been at the forefront of technology and innovation and today is no exception.
Bowater Toyota takes NMIT-managed apprentices and has done for the last five years. Tony says the students coming to them from the pre-trade programme are of a high calibre.
“We have been very, very pleased with the knowledge they come to us with.”
Find out about NMIT's automotive pre-trade and apprenticeship programmes: Automotive programmes