Lotus Evija makes its debut in London

The world’s first fully electric British hypercar, the all-new Lotus Evija, has been revealed. With a target power output of 2,000 PS and a price tag of £1.7m.

The Evija is the first Lotus road car to feature a one-piece carbon fibre monocoque chassis.

At the heart of the Evija is an ultra-advanced all-electric powertrain. It has been developed with technical partner Williams Advanced Engineering. The battery pack is mid-mounted immediately behind the two seats and supplies energy directly to four powerful e-motors. With a target weight of just 1,680 kg, it will be the lightest pure electric hypercar ever to go into series production.

The Evija has five driving modes – Range, City, Tour, Sport and Track. It can race from 0-62 mph in under three seconds and accelerate to a top speed of more than 200 mph.

Not only does the Lotus Evija feature the world’s most powerful automotive drivetrain, it also boasts the world’s fastest charging battery. The battery has the ability to accept an 800kW charge. Although charging units capable of delivering this are not yet commercially available, when they are it will be possible to fully replenish the battery in just nine minutes.

Using existing charging technology – such as a 350kW unit, which is currently the most powerful available – the Evija’s charge time will be 12 mins to 80% and 18 mins to 100%. The car’s range is 250 miles (400 km) on the WLTP Combined Cycle, or 270 miles on the NEDC Combined Cycle. Lotus is in discussions with external suppliers on a charging solution for customers.

A £250,000 deposit secures a production slot. Order books are now open through www.lotuscars.com.

Gearing up for EV & Hybrids: Diagnostic Workshop

Technicians, workshop owners and mobile repairers from the Home Counties and further afield* gathered at Chatham Dockyard on Saturday 11th May for an interactive day of training at Autotechnician’s first Big Day Out of 2019.  

 

 

*Medals for effort are awarded to Dave Pullan from Harrogate and Harry Wilson in Grimsby. 

James Dillon and David Wagstaff (of Technical Topics) and Andy Crook of GotBoost had created multiple faults on a BMW, all electric, i3 and by using the Kahoot! mobile app, delegates were able to vote on what course of action they believed best, to get to the root of it all. The first ‘customer complaint’ to tackle was the doors not opening/vehicle not responding – confirming a battery fault by use of a jump pack (courtesy of Scantec, cheers guys and gal!) Many faces in the room looked unsure about their decisions to begin with, wary of the unfamiliar EV technology, but James was keen to point out that the diagnostic process remains the same and a non-start due to a dud battery plays out the same, whether its an EV or ICE vehicle.

Discussion soon moved on to whether people knew if they were legally allowed to work on hybrids and EVs without training. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a vote split the room in half. To confirm, you need to prove you are competent at dealing with electric vehicles if things go wrong (you’re a workshop owner and a member of your staff has just been zapped by 650 volts of direct current). Although you are not legally bound to have a formal certificate to work on them, having a training certificate is the easiest way to prove competence. More importantly, it’s the only way to keep yourself, and the team around you, out of harm’s way.

The car had 50 fault codes stored at the outset and the trainers used the BMW dealer tool to formulate a test plan and prioritise DTCs. It turned out there were four things that were not communicating, so they began by investigating what they had in common. Throughout the sessions, James, Andy and David provided guidance on interpreting waveforms, the psychology of fault-finding and how to avoid the pitfalls. James also provided advice on the business of charging for diagnostics and ultimately, your expertise, as the trade moves away from selling mechanical labour. 

 

 

 

“It was an enjoyable day. The time flew past, which is always the sign of a successful event.” 

Steve Rothwell, Technical Editor, Car Mechanics 

“The training was excellent, I gained loads of knowledge and information from all the trainers on the day. A well-presented day out with good organisation and timing from professional people with loads of information and fun in the mix. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and cannot wait for the next one to learn more and enjoy myself.” 

Des Davies, Top Gear Motor Services 

“The schedule for the day was perfect and the price of the ticket was a bargain.” 

Edward Grigg, Swanley Garage 

JOIN US FOR THE FINAL EVENT OF 2019! 

Our next Big Day Out will take place on Saturday 5th October at a venue in the Midlands. Email nicola@autotechnician.co.uk for details or call 01634 816 165. 

Training special analysis – Pro-Moto’s Hybrid/EV Level 2 & 3

Whether you are a Hybrid/EV ‘liker’ or ‘hater’, Rob Marshall attended the IMI-accredited course in March and argues that it is beneficial not only for technicians’ safety but also for garage management’s duty-of-care obligations. 

Indeed, while there was a degree of scepticism surrounding the ownership experience of hybrids and EVs in the classroom, everybody concurred that they will be required to service, diagnose and repair them now, if not in the very near future. Even experienced delegates from EV service centres and battery suppliers agreed that they were looking to soak-up fresh insights about the functions and diagnoses of both hybrid and EV systems, as well as learning new safe working practices. Their admissions that the course was beneficial to them proves its worth. 

Despite around 65% of the course being ‘classroom’ based, attendees are not lectured. Active debate, sharing experiences, humour and asking questions is actively encouraged. Starting with the theory of Hybrid vehicle layouts, from looking at the differences between parallel, series, power-split and dual types, with practical examples of each design, through to detailed descriptions of the separate low and high voltage systems, provided the basic knowledge. Naturally, when discussing how the high voltage system works, a degree of elementary electrical knowledge is required but this did not extend beyond Ohms’ Law and the difference between AC/ DC. Yet, when technicians needed to brush-up on their basic knowledge, they felt comfortable enough to ask. At no point did anyone comment that they felt trapped in a two-days-long physics lesson. 

WITH SAFETY AT ITS CORE

Aside from the practical experience of testing the high voltage Hybrid/EV electrical system and making it safe, you are also briefed on the test procedures required every time you use the required safety equipment.

As 40-50 volts is sufficient to overcome human skin’s resistance with 0.08 amps being sufficient to cause cardiac arrest, it is unsurprising that many technicians treat hybrid/EVs with trepidation, considering the typical 100 to 600 operating voltages, and up to 150 DC currents being expected within the high voltage system. While the course emphasises these risks continually, it succeeds in making attendees more confident without encouraging carelessness. Detailed explanations impart knowledge about how a car powers itself down, followed by practical demonstrations of how to check that the high voltage circuit is safe and, if not, how to make it so, in order for subsequent diagnosis and repairs to be conducted safely. 

Explanations about why capacitors are needed to supplement the high voltage battery in high demand situations, such as during move-off and rapid acceleration conditions, highlighted the different discharging procedures. On the third-generation Toyota Prius demonstration car, the capacitors discharge within ten seconds via the motor/generator windings but technicians need to be aware that this can take up to five minutes on some other makes. 

Interestingly, the course supplements model-specific data that workshops can glean, because not all manufacturer procedures include crucial health and safety material. The importance of using, checking and renewing Class Zero rated gloves that offer a minimum of 1,000 volts protection, choosing, testing and handling multimeters (not forgetting the leads) of at least Category Three insulation, plus using insulated tools that comply with IEC/EN 60900 are all emphasised. While
the technician working on a hybrid/EV is responsible for the health and safety aspects, the course also gives the knowledge about how to protect other people in the workshop from potential harm. This includes how to use emergency safety equipment, as well as how to deal with potential chemical and fire hazards that the different battery types present, as well as being respectful of the strong magnetic fields within the motor/generator unit. Aside from technicians, workshop managers and garage owners would find attending the course useful as well, especially with due regard to Corporate Manslaughter as a result of breached duty-of-care. 

PRACTICAL EXAMPLES

The second day of the course sees more advanced operations, from taking voltage readings at various points of the high voltage battery pack, to removing it completely and safely from the car.

Unlike the major components of a conventional ICE car, certain parts of a high voltage system can be sited in various locations. Therefore, the high voltage battery control unit, the AC/DC semiconductor inverter, the DC-DC converter and capacitors are not positioned in the same places. On the 2009 demo Prius, they are situated within the main inverter, identified by orange DC cables entering it
and three-phase AC cables exiting to the motor/generator and air conditioning compressor. Everybody had an opportunity to use the safety equipment and go through the theoretical seven-step safety procedure, by removing the invertor’s access cover and checking the DC connections for voltage, to determine whether, or not, the vehicle was safe. 

Several written exercises take place, with a final online assessment (more of a quiz than a formal examination) ending the course. Nobody failed to attain the 60% required pass rate, during our visit.

The following day, everybody refreshed the practical skills of the previous day, prior to learning how to test-probe the high voltage battery, prior to disconnecting it safely from the car and removing the entire unit and placing it on a work bench. Naturally, with the emphasis firmly on safety, everybody learns how to remove the battery covers and make visual inspections of the air cooling ducts, terminals and wiring for corrosion, as well as measuring the voltages both on the battery itself and on its relays. Considering that most attendees started the course with virtually zero confidence with working on high voltage systems, the fact that they could perform such a major operation safely and with confidence by the end, highlights its effectiveness and value. 

GARAGE OWNER GIVES HIS VERDICT 

“I previously took a Level Two Hybrid/EV course with Eliot and enrolled on this combined Level 2 and 3 module as a pathway to Level 4’s more advanced problem-solving techniques. Eliot has a knack of engaging with everyone present, regardless of ability and I cannot recommend the course more highly. Yet, when deciding on training, a variety of factors influence the decision. The costs of travel, subsistence and being away from the workshop have to be weighed against the value of the knowledge gained. With Eliot taking his show on the road (and Matt of Cleevely Electric Vehicles providing a venue fairly local to me) my decision was easy to make.” 

Peter Greenow, Director, Dinedor Cross Garage, Herefordshire. 

COSTS

On-site training:

IMI Level 1 Hybrid/EV Awareness – 0.5 Day – 425.00 + VAT & IMI Registration of £34.00 per person (VAT exempt) – Max 6 delegates per course.

IMI Level 2 Hybrid/EV Routine Maintenance – 1 Day – £852.50 + VAT & IMI Registration of £34.00 per person (VAT exempt) – Max 6 delegates per course.

IMI Level 2/3 – Hybrid/EV Repair & Replacement – 2 Days – £1705.00 + VAT & IMI Registration of £34.00 per person (VAT exempt) – Max 6 delegates per course.

IMI Awards Level 4 – Hybrid/EV Test Repair & Diagnosis – 2 Days – £1705.00m + VAT + IMI Registration of £34.00 per person (VAT exempt) – Max 6 delegates per course.

Training at Farnborough:

IMI Level 1 Hybrid/EV Awareness – 0.5 Day – £125.00 + VAT, IMI Registration included.

IMI Level 2 Hybrid/EV Routine Maintenance – 1 Day – £275.00 + VAT, IMI Registration included.

IMI Level 2/3 – Hybrid/EV Repair & Replacement – 2 Days – £495.00 & VAT, IMI Registration included.

IMI Awards Level 4 – Hybrid/EV Test Repair & Diagnosis – 2 Days – £495.00 + VAT, IMI Registration included.

Book Levels 2/3 and 4 – save £150.00 + VAT.

Autotechnician attended the two-day training course that was held at Cleevely Electric Vehicles’ site in Cheltenham. The demonstration vehicle, course book, written/practical exercises and final online quiz is provided by Pro-Moto, a technical training exponent that specialises in Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Training, levels 1-4. The courses can be conducted anywhere in the UK – even on your own premises, if desired. For more information about the range of courses, the schedule and how to book, visit: www.pro-moto.co.uk

 

 

Danger: High Voltage!

A change in mindset is needed to become a high-voltage expert – Wayne McCluskey of ZF Aftermarket discusses electric vehicle systems training.

ZF Aftermarket delivers technical training to independent workshops through its ZF [pro]Tech garage workshop concept and is experiencing a growing demand for its hybrid and electric vehicle training. It has added extra dates for its six-day intensive ‘Advanced Status’ course at its training centre in Crick, Northampton – remaining courses for 2019 take place June 18- 28, July 22 to August 2nd and November 26th – December 6th. 

Technical Training Manager, Wayne McCluskey, explains why training in this field is so important: “You wouldn’t expect an automotive technician lacking the necessary training and experience to attempt repairs to an industrial three-phase high voltage installation. A modern electric car is effectively the same thing – a high voltage machine – but presented in a mobile platform.”With passenger car systems operating at around 600V and 400A, there is a very real risk for those unskilled in high voltage working to cause serious injury or death. These hazards are only likely to increase with the next generation of electric vehicles, making the need for training all the more vital. 

THE NEED FOR TRAINING AND LEGISLATION 

There is currently no legal framework in the UK governing the duty of care that should be undertaken by businesses and individuals when working on electric vehicles. ZF Aftermarket, together with a number of industry partners, such as the IMI, is working to change this. The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill became law in July 2018 and there are currently amendments to the Bill on the table which, if accepted, would require those repairing and maintaining electric vehicles to be licensed to carry out the work safely. Until such time as UK law catches up with industry requirements, ZF Aftermarket training references German electric vehicle legislation, along with the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act. 

ELECTRICALLY INFORMED PERSONS

“For those who have been used to 12, 24 or 48V automotive electrical systems, a change in mindset and a higher level of awareness is needed to work safely with high voltage electric vehicles,” explains Wayne. “For example, where electrical cables in a conventional vehicle are routinely removed and reinstalled multiple times and connections probably tightened by feel, high voltage cables are only rated for a certain number of connection cycles and terminations must be accurately tightened to the specified torque. This is because any abrasion of the contact areas or incorrect tensioning can have a dramatic effect on electrical resistance, possibly leading to localised heating and subsequent fire risk.” 

ZF provides two levels of training for those seeking proficiency in hybrid and electric vehicle systems. Blending theory and practical instruction, the more basic course delivers enough knowledge to take a delegate to the ‘Electrically Informed Person’ (EIP) level of competence. Attendees learn fundamental safety procedures such as following vehicle manufacturers’ protocols for powering down a vehicle and applying the correct barrier techniques to ensure electrical isolation so the vehicle cannot restart unintentionally. Each EIP course is one (admittedly long) day in duration and ideally has only eight delegates attending, allowing each person sufficient time to complete the practical exercises included. 

HIGH VOLTAGE EXPERTS

“While someone who achieves EIP status is well on the way to working safely with electric vehicles, they are not yet qualified to work on the high voltage parts of the system,” explains Wayne. “To date, around a third of Electrically Informed Persons have returned to tackle the advanced stage of ZF’s Aftermarket’s training offer: The ‘High Voltage Expert’ (HVE) level of competence.” Before gaining access to HVE training, applicants must pre-qualify by successfully completing six online e-learning modules during the six weeks prior to training. 

The intensive six-day HVE course incorporates a further three e-learning modules – each with its own test – plus two, one-hour written examinations and a one-hour practical assessment. The electric vehicle systems training is the same as that provided to ZF research and development staff and to certain vehicle manufacturers’ production line technicians.

PHONE: 03332 401 123

IMPORTANCE OF POWERING DOWN AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE SAFELY 

Correctly and safely powering down an electric vehicle is vitally important. There are many things to consider from the use of Personal Protection Equipment, to the 1,000V rated specialist test equipment required. 

To ensure the system is safe to work on, it is essential that voltage readings are taken to verify zero potential. It’s paramount to always follow the specific vehicle manufacturer’s protocols as shut down procedures and the number of steps taken vary – though all usually involve allowing at least 10 minutes to pass once the correct stages have been completed, so that the capacitors in the system can discharge. Learning how to correctly power down a vehicle and verify the vehicle is safely discharged is covered in detail on ZF’s HVE IMI course level 3. 

 

Hyundai Ioniq Electric (AE-EV) (2016-Present)

Introduced in 2016, the Hyundai Ioniq is available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric variants. Because the electric version has a much larger battery than its hybrid stablemates, it does away with the usual independent rear suspension in favour of a simpler beam axle. The Ioniq Electric uses a 88kW electric motor and a 28kWh battery. The Ioniq EV’s superb aerodynamics, thermal management and electric drivetrain helped it to become the most energy-efficient car ever tested by the US EPA, with the hybrid and plug-in versions also offering impressive economy figures. This article only covers the electric version which is distinguished by a smooth grey front end.

Battery

The electric version of the Ioniq has a 360V Lithium-Polymer battery pack. The useable battery capacity is 78 Ah/28kWh. There are six 6-cell modules (numbered 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12), and six 10-cell modules (numbered 4-9).

Thirteen voltage protection devices (VPD) are located around the battery pack. These are physical switches that are disconnected if a battery module physically expands due to overcharging. In this case, the high voltage system will be switched off and the car undriveable.

The high voltage contactors are located within a Power Relay Assembly- one for the negative and a main and pre-charge relay on the positive side. Pre-charge resistor spec is 40 Ohms. The PRA also contains the two relays for rapid charging (QRA) and for battery heating.

The battery pack is air-cooled. A fan in the offside rear of the vehicle pulls air through the pack from air vents under the rear seats.

The driving power will reduce as the battery state of charge gets low to prevent high current draw at low SOC damaging the battery pack. As with all EV batteries, the full capacity is not used- 28kWh is the useable figure, with the whole capacity being a little larger. Some capacity is also kept back and is used to mask degradation.

Battery charging

The Type 2 CCS charging connector is located on the nearside rear wing. The liquid- cooled OBC (On board charger) is located under the bonnet, sandwiched between the EPCU and the motor.

A Charge Control Module is located under the front passenger seat. It converts the PLC communication from the external charging post into CAN that can be understood by the rest of the car. Charging speed is 6.6kW on AC, and 100kW on DC CCS, although there are not currently many charging stations in the UK that can supply more than 50kW.

Three blue charging indicator lights are fitted on top of the dashboard. The operation of these is similar to that of the Nissan Leaf but not quite the same. During charging, the first light will flash until the battery reaches approximately 1/3 full, at which point the first

light will be on solid and the second light flash, and so on. All three lights on means the car has just finished charging. All three lights flashing means a charging error has occurred. The centre light flashing means a charging timer is set. The end light flashing means the 12v battery is charging, either for a top up, or because remote climate control is on.

The red dashboard warning light indicates charging in progress, and turns green when complete but still plugged in.

Motor

A 88kW permanent magnet three-phase AC electric motor is used, with inverter built into the EPCU. When replacing the motor or EPCU, it is necessary to carry out Initialisation of Automatic Resolver Offset calibration. The cooling system is bled via diagnostic equipment.

Cabin heating and cooling

An electric compressor is used, and a heat pump in addition to a PTC heater. The PTC heater runs from the high voltage system. The PTC heater has a high-voltage interlock circuit which appears to be joined to the HVAC ECU, and then sent over CAN. This would suggest a fault in the HVAC ECU or its network would cause a non-start, although we have not been able to verify this at the time of writing.

The refrigerant circuit is as follows. The system can collect waste heat from the high- voltage cooling system, making it more efficient.

When in cooling mode, the system operates like this. With the various valves in these positions, the system operates the same as any other air-conditioning system. Flaps in the car (not shown) divert the air away from the internal condenser. The internal condenser therefore effectively just acts as part of the pipework. The heat is given up at the front of the car, and passed through an expansion valve to cool the evaporator.

When in heating mode, the valve positions change. The valve shown at the top of the diagram is now closed. There is now a pressure change in the internal condenser, causing the heat to be “dropped” here. The now-cool refrigerant then goes on to collect heat from outside air, and from the heat exchanger (which Hyundai calls the Chiller). The evaporator is now out of the circuit.

For demisting, it is advantageous to operate the heating and air conditioning at the same time. The Ioniq has another trick up its sleeve here. The valves are operated as follows:

This arrangement allows heat to be collected in the car, and dropped in the car. This can demist the vehicle with minimal operation of the PTC heater.

You will notice there is a condenser bypass valve that is in the same position in all the diagrams. This is opened if excess refrigerant is accumulated in the condenser.

Electrical system

A DC-DC converter (known as LDC) is built into the EPCU (inverter). The 12v battery is charged when the vehicle is in ready mode, when charging, and when pre-heating/cooling.

There is an option in the menu for Aux Battery Saver+ (under User Settings > Other features). When enabled, this will automatically charge the 12v from the high voltage battery as required, preventing a flat 12v battery albeit losing a little from the main battery. Aux Battery Saver+ operates for a maximum of 20 minutes at a time, and if the car is unplugged, will check on the battery every 72 hours. If it operates for ten times in a row, the system is disabled as there is either a parasitic drain or the 12v battery is faulty. A dashboard message will tell the driver the battery saver has been used since last parked.

A synthesised noise is created by the car, known as VESS. The Ioniq features various driver assistance systems. These are not covered by this guide or by HEVRA Support at this time.

Braking system

The braking system consists of a Pressure Source Unit (PSU), and a Integrated Brake Actuator Unit (IBAU) on the master cylinder.

The PSU generates and stores hydraulic pressure at approximately 180 bar, and feeds it to the IABU. The IABU can send this to the calipers when regenerative braking cannot provide the necessary brake force. The IABU also handles ABS and ESP functions, emergency backup (hydraulic link to pedal), and simulated pedal feel. A stroke sensor on the pedal measures driver demand- this must be recalibrated whenever it or the IABU is replaced.

If it is necessary to release the pipework between the PSU and IABU, use diagnostic equipment to release the hydraulic pressure. Stroke sensor calibration should be carried out on refitting. In the event of a total failure, a valve within the IABU connects the pedal to the wheels to provide braking on all four wheels with no servo assistance.

Noises from the brake pump when opening the driver’s door, repeatedly pressing the brake pedal, or pressing the pedal particularly hard are all normal. Brake bleeding is quite an involved procedure- see Hyundai factory brake manual.

Further information

Warranty information:

Standard vehicle warranty: 5 years/unlimited miles

EV battery warranty: 8 years/124k miles

Theoretical Layout

Note: Procedures described are for guidance only. Refer to vehicle manufacturer’s technical information for up-to-date procedures. HEVRA cannot take responsibility for injury, malfunction or accident.

 

More focus on electric vehicle training is essential says motor industry body

This week Government has published its response to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee report ‘Electric vehicles: driving the transition’, and the professional body for automotive, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), is supporting calls for further development of Electric Vehicle (EV) skills to protect the safety of technicians.

The IMI has announced today (21st January) that they will be hosting an Electric Vehicle Advisory Group meeting on 5th February at the Head Office in Hertfordshire. Attendees from across the industry will be working together to develop a Professional Standard that will safeguard the UK’s workforce of technicians by ensuring they are well trained and have the skills they need to repair electrified vehicles  safely.

Sales of electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles have seen a sharp increase of 21% since 20171, and with only around 3.5% of the UK’s 188,500 vehicle technicians currently qualified with the skills to service and repair the high voltage components of this technology – the IMI is backing the BEIS Committee’s recommendations to grow EV-specific qualifications for motoring technicians across the sector.

Steve Nash, Chief Executive at the IMI, said:

“The response to the BEIS Committee report is confirmation that Government must work with businesses to help workers develop their skills when it comes to new vehicle technology. There must be more focus on the skills needed if the UK is to become a world-leader in the manufacturing and repairing of electrified vehicles.

“As the professional body for the automotive industry, the IMI is well placed to help Government understand the challenge of making sure that vehicle maintenance and repair is carried out in a professional and safe manner for both technicians and drivers. It’s essential that Government and business work better together to embrace the opportunities that come with new technology; however an appropriately skilled workforce must be regarded as a prerequisite to achieving those opportunities.

“By bringing together a committee of experts from across the motor industry to discuss, agree and develop Electric Vehicle Professional Standards, we can then provide the appropriate benchmarks and recognition for individuals to work towards, supported by the appropriate quality of training. In doing so we can create the expert, skilled workforce needed to support the next generation of vehicles.”

Inside the curious world of electric classic car conversions – By Thomas Harrison-Lord

Deep in the Welsh countryside, something quite unique is brewing, but you won’t be able to hear it. Welcome to the intriguing and developing world of electric classic car conversions. Yes, you read that correctly, electric classic car conversions. But, before you sharpen up your pitchfork in defense of petrol or diesel, it is worth investigating a growing business.

The company Electric Classic Cars takes a humble Fiat 500, Volkswagen Beetle or retro Range Rover and turns it into a fully electric vehicle for the 21st century. In fact, they can convert any classic car, pre-1990s, to run purely on electricity. The process itself started life when Richard Morgan — founder of Electric Classic Cars — decided to play around with a derelict Beetle he had knocking about in a barn. During the restoration, he tried something a little different and fitted an electric motor, inverter and batteries. This has now spawned into a full-blown company, providing electric conversions by request.

Richard and the team’s next project is a Jensen Interceptor, one of the most beautiful designs from the 1960-70s, but the process is far from easy. Before they get to work, the first task is to try and find a similar vehicle in the UK — preferably one that has its engine out. Even for more ubiquitous vehicles, this can be a challenge.

GETTING STARTED

As Richard enthusiastically explains, once a vehicle has been sourced, the measuring begins. “Someone will come to us with a type of car they would like and a list of demands such as charging time, range and performance. With an electric conversion, this is determined by how much space there is for batteries, which means we have to find a vehicle to measure and calculate how many battery packs we can install. Only then can we go back to the customer with what is achievable. Even then, once we begin, we may come across something structural that can’t be moved, and we have to re-align expectations.”

There is no doubt that the biggest technical challenge is the packaging. Customers will always want greater range, but Richard needs to make sure there are no major changes to the chassis or bodywork to keep within the original homologation. The cars will be treated by the government in the same way as their original petrol variant.

SOURCING PARTS

The biggest query I had was who manufactures the parts. The answer is Tesla. Which is strange, as Tesla is famously at odds with the aftermarket. They don’t provide parts, diagnostic access or allow third party part production. Everything has to be done through them directly.

“The batteries and motors are sourced from damaged Tesla cars, then we use various new controllers, chargers and cooling system elements. These vehicles are going to be scrapped or are sat there not getting repaired, so we purchase all the parts we need. We constantly stockpile things like the batteries and then sell any excess parts on our website. When Tesla produces a new car, the drive units have a lifetime, infinite mileage, warranty. The elements we use to do a conversion are extremely reliable,” explains Richard.

We were able to take a close look at their conversions at the recent Fully Charged Live event, held at Silverstone. On display was a recently completed first generation Range Rover from the 1980s. The first thing that stands out isn’t the electrification, but the quality of workmanship. These vehicles aren’t just converted in the process, some are fully restored inside and out too.

Of course, the second thing that stands out is the massive pack of batteries almost bulging out of the bonnet area, with a second set beneath the boot floor. Under the petrol cap is a Type-2 charging port and otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was an EV.

“Many people love the iconic looks of classic cars. Modern vehicles can look a bit homogeneous, making classic cars stand out more than ever, but many do not want to deal with the mollycoddling they require. With an electric conversion, once we’ve done the hard work they are effectively maintenance-free. A classic car generally isn’t a daily driver. Our customers want to use something on a sunny weekend, and they want to do it with peace of mind. Suddenly, an electric Fiat 500 starts to make more sense”.

There is a certain joy to be had from changing gears in a classic car, but Richard has even thought of that too: “In our Fiat 500 conversion we still have the gearbox and you still change gears. Okay, you can just leave it in third and it will work in that one gear, but we modify the drivetrain so that if you really want to get a move on, you can change into second and experience the instant torque.

I can hear you asking two very important questions which I have avoided so far. How much and how long? A definitive answer is hard to say at this point. The whole process is in its infancy, and each conversion is custom made for each individual client. Expect around £15,000 for a Fiat 500, and up to £45,000 for a Range Rover. But nothing is off limits so far. A Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud or a Citroen 2CV, the possibilities are endless, just so long as your wallet is too. From start to finish, it took around a year for their latest BMW E9 CS project, including a thorough restoration, but each project varies.

One of the biggest challenges with electric vehicles is the relative lack of upkeep compared to an internal combustion car, and how the aftermarket will evolve and survive in the long term around this. I wonder if conversions will offer a potential revenue stream for businesses in the future, as more customers espouse EV ownership.

We’ve seen recently BMW themselves converting a classic Mini and Jaguar creating the now famous EV E-Type used during the recent Royal wedding, but both are one-off proofs of concept. Richard and Electric Classic Cars are actually hand producing cars for sale, and I applaud the audacity. It may only be in tiny numbers for now, but as batteries reduce in price and emission regulations tighten, in forty years from now, would you rather see electric MG Midgets on the roads or no MG Midgets at all?

Stand out from the crowd and invite hybrid repair into your workshop

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.”

EMAIL: membership@hevra.org.uk

WEB: www.hevra.org.uk

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/HEVRAofficial

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.

Lack of charging points prevents switch to electric vehicles

According to new research commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), 82% of drivers feel they don’t know enough about electric vehicles to wave goodbye to their petrol/diesel vehicle. Two thirds (66%) said they wouldn’t know where to find a charging point and nearly a third say they will never change to electric.

The IMI research also identified the lack of knowledge about the expertise and training required to service and maintain electric vehicles. The body found that 9 in 10 drivers are not aware of the current training necessary for technicians to safely work on an electrified vehicle. Worryingly, over half (59%) of respondents said they would be confident to perform basic maintenance tasks on an electric vehicle themselves.

Steve Nash, Chief Executive at the IMI, told Autotechnician:

“The IMI is currently lobbying for a Licence to Practise for vehicle technicians working on Electric and Hybrid vehicles. Without regulation and a minimum training standard, there are significant safety risks for technicians who may not have any form of training before coming into contact with high- voltage vehicles. We have a handful of significant meetings in the coming months between the IMI and key members of Parliament, and we hope to gather further momentum this year.

“The motor industry deserves recognition for their individual training and skills when it comes to working on such advanced technology. The licensing scheme would provide that credibility, as well as offering other benefits to the individual technician who are trained and qualified to work on low-emission vehicles. Benefits to the individual include the fact that businesses would be keen to recruit them to allow the business to service and maintain these vehicles. We’ve seen lately that the appetite for electric and hybrid vehicles shows no sign of slowing down – there has been an increase of 35% in sales this year.”

High Amperage Ampera – By James Dillon of Technical Topics

The market is moving towards a point that borders ‘beyond doubt’ regarding the medium-term electrification of light vehicle transport. The impact of this for repair garages and workshops is that they will absolutely have to get hands-on with the service, diagnosis and repair of electric vehicles. Uniquely, alongside the business opportunities that electric vehicles present, there are significant safety risks, which shouldn’t be underestimated. These risks can be mitigated with appropriate education and training, using the correct equipment and implementing the correct procedures and processes.

The diagnostic case reported here has been carried out following the correct processes and procedures by a hybrid and EV trained technician. This article will indicate the types of processes, techniques and procedures that may be necessary. In all cases, the vehicle manufacturers’ procedures should be followed by a suitably qualified EV technician.

Here at the Technical Topics workshop, I have been involved in the diagnosis and repair of hybrid and electric vehicles for the past 10 years. Being an early adopter, I’ve had the chance to get hands on with some interesting diagnostic cases. Once such case, which is currently ongoing, is that of a Vauxhall Ampera, a type of extended range electric vehicle.

Initially, the Ampera uses energy from a 16.5 kWh battery pack to drive an 110kW electric propulsion motor. The batteries are charged from the main’s electrical infrastructure as well as from a 55kW on-board motor/generator. This motor/generator is driven by the kinetic energy of the vehicle during regenerative braking (KERS). The Ampera also has a 60 kW 1.4 l internal combustion engine, which is used primarily as a supplementary drive source for the motor/generator. This energy is delivered directly to the propulsion motor with any excess being stored in the battery pack. The three drive sources (main motor, generator motor and internal combustion engine) can blend two of the three sources depending on the operating mode.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 19.52.37We recently had a poorly Ampera in the workshop that would not drive. It would power up on the ignition switch, but it was unable to move under its own power. This could be considered as the equivalent of a crank – no start condition of an internal combustion engine vehicle, (see left) Dash Panel warning. An additional issue was that the vehicle would not charge from its mains charging lead. The battery was in a low state of charge due to the fault. I hoped this would recover, but it was an unknown factor and this was communicated to the customer.

The problem occurred whilst the owner was driving the vehicle. The warning came on the dash and the vehicle soon lost power and it had to be recovered back to their house. Unfortunately, they had real trouble finding a repairer locally to investigate the source of the problem, including the franchised dealer. There appears to be real business opportunity here for early adopter garages to position themselves as local market leaders in the diagnosis and repair of this type of vehicle.

The suggested diagnostic process for hybrid and EV is to assess diagnostic trouble codes early on in the process to assess the type of failure and to see that the failure mode doesn’t represent a safety issue for the technician. A scan of the problem-child showed a DTC for drive motor high current (see below, DTC capture). At this point, the technician should be able to develop a test and measurement plan, and ascertain whether or not the vehicle should be made safe prior to testing.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 19.52.55Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 19.53.08

In this case, we assessed the GM technical info for the specific DTC. The guidance was to make the system safe and then commence testing. The test specified guided the technician (me) towards a system-off insulation/isolation test. The DTC information stated that the motor generator current exceeded the fail threshold during system initialisation; consequentially, as a safety feature, the vehicle enters a form of motive suspended animation. The external charging port is also isolated after the self-test failure is tripped. This has implications for the main battery state of charge.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 19.53.53The isolation test is performed using a high voltage insulation tester (see right) under the correct conditions, whilst wearing the correct safety gear. I ran the test, which the system passed. The vehicle manufacturer’s trouble code diagnostic tree suggested as a next step to replace the inverter and if this didn’t cure the issue, to replace the motor generator. Wow! Better get a big parts canon, as this method required the firing of some very hefty and pricey ‘try-some’ parts. I chose to resort to some alternative testing methods to better establish a root cause.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 19.54.12Using the PicoScope and a 3-phase induction current clamp set, I attempted to test the system’s function (see left). The clamps were placed in line between the inverter and the motor generator, half way along the potential problem.

The system was re-initialised and the appropriate safety gear was donned. The system was turned off and back on and the code reset whilst the current was monitored.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 19.55.06The waveform (see right) shows that one of the motor phases was pulling a peak current of 350 amps during start-up. This looks like what was tripping the system and setting the code. This form of testing enabled me to observe the symptom directly. However, the next challenge is to try to diagnose the root cause: Is it the motor, the cables, the inverter or something else? I’m awaiting customer authorisation to proceed with the next level of testing and if I get the go-ahead, I’ll detail the next steps in a subsequent issue.

If you’d like to build your knowledge and experience, and gain a nationally recognised Hybrid and EV qualification, get in touch with Technical Topics. They are running a Hybrid and EV Diagnostic Bootcamp, which will equip technicians with the skills and knowledge to make money from diagnosing the next big thing in automotive transportation.

You can also catch James Dillon at Reading College on Saturday 30th June, see page 8 for details, call 01634 816 165 to book a place.