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How to prepare for EV business

In the last issue of AT, (we explored the training, parts suppliers and support available for those thinking of entering the world of EV repair – here, automotive author Tom Denton, outlines the steps workshops can take to get EV ready and attract new business.

Is your business in Electric Vehicle Ready Mode? It doesn’t have to be of course, but if you intend to do EV work then it needs switching on. There are a few steps you need to take now, or at least be seriously preparing for them. These include what qualifications you and/or the team will need, what equipment will be essential, and how will you market and price the new work.

You must first decide which is the best route for you and your business. You have three options:

1) Don’t work on EVs

2) Service and repairs to the low voltage side of EVs

3) Cover all aspect of EVs

Some technicians dislike the EV revolution – that’s fine, we all have opinions. However, like it or not, they are coming. Government legislation is a key driver, and the latest sales figures do show a dramatic switch towards high voltage vehicles. Whatever you decide, do it soon. If EVs are going to be a part of your future, then you need to start learning more and getting qualified.

Audi RS e-tron liquid cooled lithium-ion battery.

The current EV courses and associated qualifications are split into these levels:

Level 1 Vehicle Awareness Know the potential dangers, even things as simple as how some EVs are very quiet when moving in the workshop. This level is ideal for valeters, sales staff, managers, and anyone who comes into contact with EVs in a working environment.

L2: Vehicle Routine Maintenance Activities Aimed at qualified or time-served technicians who will be working around the high voltage systems and are able to safely switch them off (de-energise).

L2: Hazard Management for Emergency and Recovery Personnel Ensuring first responders (breakdown, fire, police) are able to work safely.

L3: Vehicle Repair and Replacement For technicians working on the high voltage systems, with them switched OFF.

L4: Diagnosis, Testing and Repair of Vehicles and Components Working on high voltage systems with them switched ON, for technicians who have previously completed level 3.

To set a context here, the L1 course is usually just half a day and all the others are about two days (for already qualified/ experienced technicians). It is also important to maintain your competence (stay up to date) after completing training and getting the qualification. IMI TechSafe is the way to ensure this, and here is why it is essential. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and associated HSE guidance states:

“No person shall be engaged in any work activity where technical knowledge or experience is necessary to prevent danger or, where appropriate, injury, unless he possesses such knowledge or experience, or is under such degree of supervision as may be appropriate having regard to the nature of the work.”

PPE and insulated tools in use on a Nissan Leaf battery pack.

“In any proceedings for an offence consisting of a contravention of regulations, it shall be a defence for any person to prove that he took all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of that offence.”

In simple terms, if you get this wrong as well as the injury, or worse fatality, as a business owner you become liable. IMI TechSafe identifies professionalism and safe working practice in the field of EV. To maintain recognition, you must carry out mandatory CPD. It is not onerous, and remember it is as much about keeping you safe, as it is meeting the regulations.

The tools for the job

The next important issue is what equipment you need. It is probably much less than you think, but this will depend on how much and what sort of EV work you choose to do.

In addition to the normal automotive-related PPE, the following are the minimum PPE recommended for work on high-voltage systems:

1) Overalls with non- conductive fasteners

2) Electrical protection gloves

3) Goggles/visor

You will need some simple plastic barriers, or posts and chains, together with suitable signs to warn others and keep a vehicle fenced off. This is particularly important if it is partly dismantled. Red and white, or yellow and black colours are usually used. It is recommended that one bay is set aside for EV work so you can surround the car with insulated mats and have the tools and equipment to hand.

High voltage insulated tools are necessary, but not as many as you may think when first starting out. An important safety feature of the EV tool range is the two-step colour-code system. If any of the red/orange-coloured outer insulation material is missing, a bright yellow interior is exposed, indicating that the tool is no longer safe for use.

You can build up the range bit by bit, as long as you have the essential items. You probably already have a good multimeter, but check that it is at least CAT III, which is the minimum rating that is safe for use on high voltages. An insulation tester will also be needed. EV systems produce fault codes and live data, just like everything else on the vehicle, so a good scanner is essential.

Having a charge point could be a good marketing strategy (Source: Bosch Media).

When you have done the training, gained the appropriate qualifications, bought the kit and set up the workshop, it is time to start bringing in the work by marketing your business.

Getting EVs through the door

One of the key things about marketing is that it should attract the type of work (and the type of customers) that you want. So you don’t miss anything, a useful way to plan you marketing is to use the seven Ps as a guide. These are shown, together with some notes and suggestions, in the graphic below:

The seven Ps of marketing.

In this article we have looked briefly at what is needed to convert your business from ICE to EV. At the start, I encouraged you to make the decision about whether you will be working on EVs or not. Whatever you decide is fine, but do note the number of green stripe registration plates already out there! www.tomdenton.org

About Autotechnician
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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