Electric cars: hurdles on the road to electrification

The transition to electric vehicles will have significant implications for the driving test and car maintenance. We take a closer look...

Electric cars: hurdles on the road to electrification

Another area that needs to be addressed urgently is servicing. Like EV owners, those who work on the cars run the risk of injury or death if they inadvertently make contact with the wrong part of a high-voltage electrical system.

Yet there is a massive shortage of trained automotive technicians overall, and especially those who are qualified to work on EVs. At present, just 6.5% of the country’s 250,000 car mechanics are trained to work on EVs safely. 

Steve Nash, chief executive officer of the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), says there’s a “gaping chasm” of technicians that could lead to potentially fatal consequences. 

“Working on any form of electrified vehicle requires a completely different set of skills to those needed to work on a petrol or diesel vehicle,” he said. “Without those skills, serious injury or death is a very real prospect, and we’ve got just over eight years [to the 2030 deadline] to create a sector that is EV-ready.” 

Unless something is done to address the shortage, the IMI estimates that there will be a shortfall of 35,000 appropriately trained technicians by 2030. As a result, it has worked with the Government to create the TechSafe standard for EV technicians, and it’s now seeking funding to train 75,000 more technicians. 

Fiat 500 electric

Although many franchised dealer groups and larger independent chains are able to invest in training, smaller garages don’t have the money to do so. The IMI believes the extra funding would create a more level playing field for consumers who want to get older EVs serviced outside the main dealer network. 

Other organisations in the vehicle repair sector are also working to improve the skills shortage. Thatcham Research’s automotive training division has introduced the EV Ready programme to provide employees and companies with essential information. 

“EV repairs should be left to the experts,” says Dean Lander, Thatcham’s head of repair sector services. “It’s not safe to tinker with an EV on your driveway as you might with an older petrol or diesel vehicle. That means there is an imminent need for training and upskilling around electrification.” 

Likewise, the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) is working with the Government on a number of initiatives, including the introduction of the Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) accreditation scheme. 

“The EVA sets down standards that ensure that consumers receive a high and consistent level of service, information and expertise within EV retail and aftersales,” says Sue Robinson, chief executive of the NFDA. 

“They ensure that accredited dealers have the correct level of cover of EV-trained technicians at any point. Technicians will not only be able to maintain and fix EVs, but will also be able to communicate with customers to discuss any concerns.”