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New challenges lay ahead as there is growth in demand for electric and hybrid vehicles (EHV’s) in the UK.

This has led the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) to commission a report into the availability of motor vehicle technicians. Technicians who are equipped, and qualified, to carry out servicing and maintenance work.

According to the report, the Government has set aside £600m to promote the uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles. And, in the installation of charging infrastructure.

So What’s Next?

This is all very well and aligned to long term goals of reducing our carbon footprint. But, as always, the devil is in the detail.

Unsurprisingly, the maintenance and repair of EHV’s is a very different task from conventional, fossil fuel burning cars.

The large battery packs used in the vehicles present significant risk of serious electric shock. Sufficient enough to kill. The unwary motor technician could unwittingly be electrocuted. Simply, by undertaking even the simplest under-bonnet task.

Interestingly, the study indicates that 90% of independent garages say they would need to retrain their technicians. This would be in order to undertake work on these vehicles.

Furthermore. the report’s Author, Professor Jim Saker, suggests the Government introduce a license to practice. Making it illegal for untrained technicians to work on these vehicles. Something similar to the Gas Safe Register used for gas heating installations.

No Warning For Technicians…

As new models of EHV hit the streets, manufacturers strive to redesign these cars. Design them so that are not instantly distinguishable from their fuel burning siblings. Case in point, the hybrid derivatives of Ford Mondeo and Kia Soul as just two examples.

Anecdotal tales from the industry indicate that service personnel and technicians might not be aware they are working on a hybrid until the bonnet is opened.

Understandably, all this goes to illustrate significant investment required in retraining of vehicle technicians.

Thankfully, training programs dedicated to EHV’s are now available around the country. Such as those run by Auto-Assess. The IMI have tailored a series of technical qualifications which give attendees the new skills they require.

And as with any new safe working procedure comes the need for good quality. Also, certified safety products to protect technicians as they go about their work.

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