Electric Vehicles – Are All Industries Ready?

Illustrated picture of a mechanic standing in front of a red car.

As we know, new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from sale in the UK from 2030, making way for electric vehicles.  With just over 7 years to go, are all the relevant industries ready for the change?

Obviously, car manufacturers, car dealers and electric vehicles hire companies (such as EVision) are prepared for the change. However, what about the peripheral industries? Mechanics, electricians and engineers will all have a role to play.

Although familiar with vehicle repairs, electrics and breakdowns respectively. Electric vehicles offer their own specific challenges which need to be prepared for.

Mechanics – Moving Towards Electric Vehicles

Buying, selling or renting an electric vehicle is only the beginning. What happens when something goes wrong? Will there be enough trained mechanics to help you when needed? These are all very valid points.

Mechanics are an important part of the automotive industry. However, electric vehicles are a far cry from what they are used to. There is no engine to tune up, no oil sumps to repair or replace etc etc. Electric vehicles are a new and daunting challenge.

With 75,000 electric vehicle ready mechanics needed by 2030, according to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), it seems that there is still a long way to go. At present, only 5% of mechanics are trained to work on electric vehicles. This is nowhere near enough.

What is Being Done and What Are the Issues?

Although there are fewer moving parts in electric vehicles, there are far more challenges when it comes to the electric components. Some say that the mechanics of the future will need to be more like software engineers rather than traditional ‘grease monkeys’. Computers will be the tool of choice rather than the spanner.

A lot of investment has been put into all areas of the transition to electric vehicles. Some of this includes bringing through the new generation of skilled workers who will become more used to the new world of cars. Of course, there are also a lot of training courses available which are being utilised by current car mechanics.

Mechanic working on a car

Although the number of mechanics trained in fixing electric vehicles has only increased by 2% in 3 years, a lot of this slow progression was due to the Covid situation. We can expect this to increase rapidly, not only because more courses are open, but because it is now seen as necessary.

Hopefully we can reach the minimum of 26% of mechanics trained by 2030 that will be needed. Closer to 50% would be a more comfortable number with more coming through.

Electricians – Charging Electric Vehicles is a New Challenge

When a light socket stops working, you call an electrician. If a plug socket overheats, you call an electrician. When you need your house rewired, you call an electrician.

The assumption is that whenever anything electrical needs doing or repaired, a call to your local electrician will be sufficient to get the job done. However, when it comes to the installation, repair and maintenance of electric charge points, there is a lot more involved.

Worrying statistics from CENEX and OZEV show that only 28% of electricians have specific training for installing electric charge points. A study of new installations showed that 18% of charge points installed under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) had issues that were dangerous or potentially dangerous. Only 32% were labelled as satisfactory.

Electrician with back to the camera facing a circuit board.

These statistics show that maybe electricians aren’t aware of the standards required for these types of installations. Although only 28% had had the training, a massive 73% of electricians surveyed stated that they were likely to seek work in installing or repairing charge points.

Hopefully more electricians will get the correct training in order to keep us all safe. However, it may be necessary to increase penalties for those who continue to do the work without meeting the high standards in place.

Breakdown Services – Ready For Electric Vehicles

Unlike other peripheral industries, the breakdown services seem to be very well prepared. Groups such as the AA and RAC thoroughly researched issues that are specific to electric vehicles and they have adapted methods in preparedness.

The RAC developed the first lightweight mobile charging vans which are able to provide electric vehicles with enough charge to get to the nearest available charge point. However, this technology will seldom be needed if current trends continue. The number of callouts due to the drivetrain battery is negligible. 

A bigger issue, as with conventionally fuelled vehicles, is the tyres. Tyres make up the most of all callouts to breakdown services. Not just for electric vehicles either. However, electric vehicles have tyres which are heavier than standard cars. This makes sense when you consider how much heavier electric vehicles are in comparison.

A breakdown warning triangle on side of a road

Great news is that groups, such as RAC, are carrying universal tyres which are also suitable for electric vehicles. This should be a comfort to electric vehicle drivers up and down the country.

Another issue that was revealed as far as electric vehicles are concerned is that many of them could not be towed when the electrics shut down. This too has been resolved. The AA, for example, uses a towing system that allows all wheels of the vehicle to be lifted onto a trailer to allow towing. This is, of course, a very rare occurrence. However, it is good that we are prepared.

Final Thoughts

Yes, there are some concerns when it comes to the electrician side of things. Even the current mechanics situation isn’t as good as we would like. However, with 2030 fast approaching, it is clear that a majority are starting to take notice and act on it. We need a lot more of these tradesmen to be fully proficient in their field as far as electric vehicles are concerned and we need them soon. 

Comfort can be taken when it comes to the breakdown services though. Great aforethought of where their industry is heading has forced them to adapt early. The techniques and technologies are only going to develop further in the coming years.

In the words of Private Jones in Dad’s Army, don’t panic!

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