Recently published studies from the UK’s Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) revealed that as many as 97% of active auto mechanics aren’t qualified to work on electric cars. Worse, of that 3% that is qualified, the vast majority of them are employed at manufacturer’s dealerships, presenting prospective EV buyers with very limited service options.
In addition to limiting the options for electric car buyers, the lack of qualified techs is also posing a problem for regulators. Simply put: if you don’t have anyone to work on EVs, how will you keep them running once they’re all that’s allowed?
Sure, there’s a long time between now and the proposed 2040 ICE cutoff date– and plenty of time for techs to get ready. Even so, London’s bus fleet is almost fully electric by now, and other major cities around the world are similarly electrifying their transportation fleets. What will municipalities have to do to attract talent away from the dealers?
And, lest you think this is strictly a European concern, there are plenty of American repair shops that are asking the same questions. “People are freaking out,” auto mechanic Craig Van Batenburg told the Chicago Tribune last year, noting that some of the resistance to electric car training is strongest in the American Midwest. Resistance that, he believes, was propelled by early rumors of technicians being electrocuted by electric vehicles. “Ninety percent of our industry has done nothing — absolutely nothing to prepare. They just turn the hybrids and EVs away and say, ‘We don’t work on those cars, go back to Ford or Toyota.’ The fear factor is huge.”
That fear isn’t just training-related. The independent business model is threatened. According to the same Tribune article, “Independent auto shops — of which there are more than 160,000 in the United States — have always relied on minor repairs, such as oil changes and new tires, to get customers in the front door. To many a car owner’s surprise, one minor repair often leads to a series of others, giving auto shops a chance to make more money and establish a rapport with customers that can serve them for years.” Without those frequent oil changes, well … you can already kind of see the problem, right?
Case in point: the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt. The Bolt’s maintenance schedule asks its owners to rotate their tires every 7,500 miles, replace the cabin air filter every 22,500 miles and have the coolant flushed every 150,000. That’s according to the Bolt’s owner’s manual– a far cray from the old “change your oil every 3,000 miles”, isn’t it!?
What do you guys think? Is the coming electric revolution going to crush the automotive repair business, or will those guys figure out a way to keep making money well into the next few decades? Let us know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Assembling an Electric VW