EV and hybrid vehicle training

Published:  20 May, 2021

VMs and parts suppliers eye 2030 deadline
As the March issue of Aftermarket went to press last month, there was a surge of news on the move towards electric vehicles. First, JLR announced Jaguar is to become an all-EV brand by 2025, with six pure electric variants are pencilled in for Land Rover by 2030 as well. To achieve its aims, the company also announced an annual £2.5bn investment in vehicle technology.
    
Next, Ford said it would go all-in on EVs by mid-2026. At that point, the carmaker said 100% of its passenger vehicle range in Europe will be zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid, moving to all-electric by 2030. Investment will be key here as well, with the move spearheaded by a $1 billion investment in a new EV manufacturing base in Cologne.
    
Then a few days later, on the components side, Schaeffler started mass production of a wide range of electric motors, ranging from single components through to complete drive systems. The news follows a move by the company in 2018 to set-up a dedicated E-Mobility division.

All this news broke in the space of a few days, and the near overload on the topic making the question of shifting to being an EV-capable garage a question of when, not if for many businesses.

Working on EVs – Key considerations from DENSO
According to Fatiha Laauich, Pan European Strategic Marketing Manager at DENSO, there are five key considerations for independent garages looking to seize the electric vehicle servicing opportunity: “At number five is understanding maintenance routines. While all vehicles have slightly different maintenance routines as recommended by the manufacturer, electrical systems should require minimal scheduled maintenance. EVs have fewer serviceable parts. While naturally-aspirated engines and EVs do share braking systems, these are regenerative in electric vehicles, and therefore typically last longer than those on conventional vehicles. However, electric vehicles will have similar maintenance requirements for lights, cabin filtration, suspension systems, tyres and wipers. Plug-in hybrids differ slightly because they will share a petrol engine, which will have the same servicing requirements as usual.
    
“At number four is understanding different electrical systems. Take plug-in electric vehicles as an example. Early models typically used a slow recharge system. However, more recent models instead adopt fast or rapid recharge systems, which means there are several variations of charging cable that you need to power different vehicles. The type of battery also varies according to the make and model of EV you are working on. Understanding the different models in the car parc, their unique designs and accessories, will help technicians to service these vehicles efficiently and successfully.
    
“Number three involves identifying common faults. For example, it is not uncommon for the high voltage battery within an electric vehicle to experience degradation under normal wear and tear. Knowing where and how to check the high voltage battery will be critical for successful diagnosis. Another part likely to require maintenance is an EV’s cooling system. This plays a key role in electric vehicles, countering the effects caused by parts of the high voltage circuit generating lots of heat. Just like a radiator system on a conventional car, the cooling system will need to be checked regularly and sometimes drained, in order to maintain high performance. Again, hybrid vehicles are slightly different because of their combustion engine, which will present the same common faults as petrol and diesel vehicles. Filters, lubricants and ancillary parts will all require frequent replacement. A further consideration for the workshop is to ensure the high voltage system on a hybrid vehicle is discharged when working on the engine; not just for safety reasons, but also to prevent the engine from starting itself in the middle of maintenance, which could create serious damage to mechanical parts.
    
“Next, at number two, is learning the right skills. It is essential that technicians complete an accredited, professional electric vehicle training course before they start working on EVs. There are a variety of courses available across Europe for EV servicing, ranging from basic awareness and hazard management, right up to EV system repair and replacement. The number of safety factors involved when working on electric vehicles is so great that nobody ought to attempt carrying out work on EVs without first having competed the appropriate level of training.
    
“Finally, at number one, is the need to ensure safety at all times. For independent workshops, it is not only essential that technicians have the level of training required to competently work on electric vehicles, but that they also know how to make electrical systems safe when in the workshop. Most electric vehicles remain a potential hazard even when they are switched off. This is because a static electric vehicle system will retain charge in various capacitators and therefore must be switched off and powered down in the right sequence, allowing plenty of time between shut down and physical contact. It’s not just in the workshop where the right safety precautions need to be followed. For workshops that offer pick-up services, it is essential that an EV’s remote operation key is removed to a suitable distance and the battery disconnected before the vehicle is lifted. This ensures it does not activate mid-journey, en-route to the repair facility.”
    
Fatiha added: “Working on live electrical equipment should only be considered when there is no other way for work to be undertaken and even then, only if absolutely necessary and deemed safe to do so. Technicians should always consider the risk associated with working on electric vehicles. This includes an assessment of the risk to them, the risk to others and the risk to the immediate environment.”  

EV training boost from Autotech Training
While 75,000 vehicle technicians will be needed to service the electric vehicle parc within the next few years, the IMI recently identified that just 5% of technicians currently working in garages and dealerships are EV-trained. With this in mind, Autotech Training recently opened its purpose-built EV training suite at the Autotech Group’s Milton Keynes HQ, which  it announced at the end of 2020.
  
“We are delighted to open our EV Training Suite,” said Mandla Ndhlovu, Training Delivery Director for Autotech Training. “The percentage of vehicle technicians sufficiently trained to safely service electric/hybrid vehicles is nowhere near where it should be. So, not only do we hope the training suite will have a significant impact on up-skilling technicians, but the Level 1 IMI course will provide anyone working around electric/hybrid vehicles with a foundation level of awareness. All companies have a duty of care to ensure that ANY employee who comes into contact with an electric/hybrid vehicle has this basic level of understanding.”
    
The move is part of a larger push by the Autotech Group on the EV front. Last year, CEO Gavin White joined the IMI TechSafeSector Advisory Group to help drive forward the Electrified Vehicle Professional Standard. Meanwhile, the company also pledged that every vehicle technician and MOT tester contactor working full time within its Autotech Recruit division will be trained to a minimum Level 2 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle IMI standard by the end of this year.



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