You may be sitting on the fence when it comes to preparing for Hybrid & EV repair, perhaps unconvinced by the numbers on the road, the considerable infrastructure required if we all decide to take the greener option, or you simply don’t rate them and fail to see the need to tool up and train until customers start demanding it. All valid points, of course, but although the numbers are still relatively small, the take up of new and second-hand electrified vehicles is rising significantly. Perhaps if customers knew you could undertake this work, you’d find a number of customers have been taking their plug-in elsewhere for repair and maintenance. Autotechnician will highlight a few individuals and workshops who are leading the way and creating a future-proof business that sets them apart.
Here, we meet Peter Melville, who has established the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance, a support network that provides a recognised standard for garages offering hybrid
and electric vehicle servicing and repairs. Members must meet specified standards for training, tools, test and safety equipment and HEVRA provides access to data, technical support, advice and ongoing training.
HEVRA exists to help garages make the transition to electric cars
Peter’s day job is tackling the diagnostic side of things at Nev’ll Fix It, a thriving independent workshop in Tonbridge. Last year, he needed to purchase a reliable commuter car and he went for a plug-in Vauxhall Ampera. There was a problem with the air con and the local dealer wouldn’t touch it, the nearest one that could provide service and repair was over an hour’s drive away. He realised the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. In January he set up HEVRA to help other garages move into this arena and it now supports over 20 garages across the UK.
“Part of what we do, is training. The course I run in Tonbridge provides everything a technician needs to know for servicing, repairs, and some basic fault-finding, for minimum cost and inconvenience. We also offer packages, where people can also pickup the required tools when they attend the course, so they can get straight into when they get back to work.” Peter is keen to point out that he doesn’t want HEVRA to become an exclusive club for people who attend his training. Every garage and mobile mechanic is able to join, as long as they meet the required standard (must haves include air con equipment for R134a and R1234yf with hybrid vehicle function, a Cat III multimeter with Cat III leads and at least two pairs of Class O electrical gloves – there’s a list available on the website). “HEVRA membership is not about being able to do everything – it’s about doing what you do to a high standard,” explains Peter. “Most of our members do in-depth diagnostic work on hybrid and electric cars, but some just do routine servicing and general repairs. There’s a misconception that the drivetrain is the only difference compared to traditional cars but there’s all sorts of things – brakes, air con, even tyres.”
Members are listed on its professional register and receive marketing support and regular newsletters with technical content, including comprehensive overviews of particular models, such as the Nissan Leaf, info in the following pages. It is currently free to join with no ongoing costs but later this year, Peter plans to introduce a monthly fee which will be around £25 to cover his time and expenditure. He comments: “Hopefully you’ll decide the membership benefits are worth the cost and stay with us. If not, you can leave whenever you like with nothing to pay.”
In the September issue of Autotechnician, we’ll talk to Cleevely Electric Vehicles, the first independent garage within Gloucestershire to become HEVRA and Go Ultra Low accredited who offer an EV rental service and a cost-effective alternative to main dealerships.