Auto service aims to update mechanic’s toolbox
A Northern Virginia-based business is helping auto repair shops plug into hybrid electric vehicles.
“There’s a huge disconnect in training and information available on how to diagnose and maintain hybrid vehicles. Dealers are not teaching it,” says Matt Curry, CEO of The Hybrid Shop and the former owner of Sterling-based Curry’s Auto Service.
Curry now is focused on developing franchises for The Hybrid Shop after selling Curry’s Auto Service to Rochester, N.Y.-based Monro Muffler Brake Inc. in August. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but total annual sales for Curry’s Auto Service’s 10 locations were about $18 million.
“The main reason why The Hybrid Shop was born was to put people in business to be able to maintain and repair everything in a hybrid vehicle,” Curry says.
One of The Hybrid Shop’s signature services is its battery pack conditioning, which the company says can restore a hybrid vehicle’s battery up to 95 percent of its original performance. Customers save money because they don’t have to replace their cars’ batteries, which can cost $4,000 to $4,500 each.
Restoring the battery also is more environmentally friendly than getting a new one, Curry says. The conditioning process can improve a vehicle’s gas mileage up to 35 percent and restore a car’s performance, horsepower and torque, he explains.
“There’s no company out there that is operating the training and equipment that allows people to diagnose the car and condition the battery like we do,” Curry says.
Businesses pay $60,000 each for a Hybrid Shop franchise and receive training, tools, marketing materials, a website and blog, Curry says. Franchisees also pay The Hybrid Shop a flat fee of $125 every time they use its Battery Discharge Unit.
The Hybrid Shop currently has 10 locations in the U.S., two of which are in Virginia. Curry says The Hybrid Shop expects to add three more stores in the Washington, D.C. , area by next March through a deal with Monro.
According to Automotive Research and Design LLC — a Hybrid Shop partner—slightly more than 2.7 million hybrid vehicles were registered in the U.S. as of June 30. Virginia is home to more than 100,000 registered hybrid vehicles.