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EV, Hybrid & Alt Fuels

By autotech-nath on June 12, 2024

Tools, training & support available for those entering the arena of EV repair & maintenance, plus a look at the role of hydrogen as an alternative power source and electrifying classic cars.

The UK has the second largest new electric car market by volume in Europe with businesses driving the uptake through fleet sales, which are now filtering down to the used car market and into independent workshops for maintenance and repairs.

Figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) earlier this year showed Britain’s millionth battery electric car (BEV) joined the road – a milestone that’s been more than 20 years in the making. In April 2024, 16.9% of all new car registrations were electric cars, and it is expected that BEVs will represent over a fifth of the market in 2024.

The SMMT states that the rate of growth has slowed and EV market share stabilised, with growth being sustained by fleets and businesses, which benefit from compelling tax incentives. Private retail uptake has been in decline since 2022 – accounting for fewer than one in four new EV registrations, compared with one in three previously.

Increasing numbers of BEVs are entering the used sector, with Q1 sales up by more than two thirds to 41,505 – making BEVs the fastest growing powertrain as more buyers are attracted to the potential cost-saving and environmental benefits. Hybrids (HEVs) also continued to sell in greater volumes, with 74,502 changing hands in a 49.3% rise. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), too, grew in popularity, with sales up 42.5% to 22,065.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “A reinvigorated new car market is delivering more choice and affordability for used car buyers and, increasingly, they are choosing to go electric. To enable even more drivers to enjoy the benefits of zero emission motoring, ensuring both supply and demand remains robust is essential. Incentivising new EV uptake and investing in a chargepoint network that is accessible, available and affordable to all will drive the nation’s net zero transition.”

Steady growth in EV skills…

The latest EV TechSafe data from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), reveals a shift in the point when the number of technicians qualified to work on Electric Vehicles (EVs) falls below the minimum number required.

Previous projections suggested a shortfall would appear in 2029 and reach 13,000 by 2032, however the latest analysis predicts the skills gap will only materialise in 2032 with a gap of 5,670. At the end of January 2023, there were 52,000 qualified EV technicians in the UK, representing 22% of all technicians in the country, this figure stood at 45,300 just six months earlier.

Emma Carrigy, Research Manager at the IMI, comments: “It is encouraging to see the steady growth in EV qualified workforce, especially as the market need is now expected to be met for a least another five years. Of course, attracting new talent and training technicians to work safely on electrified vehicles does take time, so the industry must not be complacent or take its foot off the recruitment or training pedals. After all, a skills gap is still forecast and could have
a significant impact on drivers’ ability to maintain and repair their electric and hybrid vehicles safely.”

The IMI predicts that by 2030 the sector will need more than 107,000 EV trained technicians, increasing to 139,000 by 2032, and 185,000 by 2035. If current training trends continue, it is expected that there will be a shortfall of 30,000 EV qualified technicians by the time the ban of new ICE vehicle sales comes into force in 2035.

Kevan Wooden, CEO at LKQ UK & Ireland: “Sales of used electric vehicles continue to grow at a fast pace, further prompting the aftermarket to retool and upskill, to capture and retain the business of plug-in drivers – and to ensure good value servicing and maintenance is readily available outside of the dealer network.

“Pressure is mounting for meaningful policy change to enable a smoother EV transition. Support for independent workshops shouldn’t be overlooked in any new policy approach by an incumbent or incoming Government. The UK car parc is bracing itself for a major influx in plug- ins, and it’s crucial the capacity is there to service, maintain and repair them.”

Opportunity to practice EV skills in the workshop…

EV repair pioneers Cleevely EV have created a new training course to build the confidence of technicians who have IMI Level 2, 3, or 4 qualifications but lack regular opportunities to practice EV skills in their workshop.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn from the best,” said Sean Savage of Springwell Motors in West Yorkshire, having attended the course earlier this month. “The tasks we were given replicate what you’d get in your own workshop. It gave us the self-assurance that we can work on EVs and that they’re not something we should be shying away from. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to embrace EV.”

Attendees to the hands-on training course engaged in a wide range of practical activities involving a 2018 Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Model Y Performance. Topics covered included interlocks, charging issues, testing and fixing high-voltage batteries, EV servicing, common problems, and an in-depth demonstration of Tesla’s service mode.

“We aim to bolster the confidence of technicians who lack regular opportunities to practice EV skills in their workshop,” said Matt Cleevely. “It’s remarkable to witness the light bulb moment when technicians realise that working on EVs isn’t as daunting as they once believed.”

The next ‘At Ease With EV’ training course takes place on Saturday 20th July. The course will be repeated on Saturday 12th October. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis for £295 + VAT per delegate.

Technicians can get a taster for this training & much more at Autotechnician’s upcoming Workshop Takeover on Saturday 15th June, where attendees will get hands-on with network faults on a petrol vehicle, delve into Mode 6 diagnostics with Andy Crook and undertake a fault to fix with Matt Cleevely & Alistair Finch. Access at-cost tickets, just £119 each, at https://autotechnician.co.uk/training/

Plugging the EV supply chain gap…

The unique pressures on EV steering & suspension components make their replacement a frequent job, according to Cleevely EV. “The Tesla Model S and Model X are prime examples,” said Matt Cleevely. “These are big, heavy cars and we’re regularly replacing camber arms, anti-roll bar links and suspension bushes.”

By 2020, the independent EV specialist was attracting custom from across the UK and were struggling to get hold of the parts which led to Cleevely EV launching its own EV parts department. “We haven’t looked back since,” said Matt. “We’re now supporting other garages with the supply of EV parts too.”

The steering and suspension range includes high quality suspension arms, ball joints and bushes for the UK’s most popular EVs. Orders placed before 10.30am are packed and dispatched for next day delivery.

“We deliberately only stock parts for EV-specific models,” said Matt. “If it’s a steering and suspension part for a petrol or diesel derived EV, these are readily available from your local factor.”

Garages can order parts from Cleevely EV online at: www.cleevelyev.co.uk/ev-parts-shop/

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Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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