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AS the electric vehicle market expands, those who are geared up for the new era are already benefitting.

The ‘Skills Standards for New and Emerging Technologies’ talk at November’s AM Live, chaired by Steve Nash, Chief Eecutive of the IMI, offered some very interesting and encouraging insights for dealers on this topic.

Quentin Le Hetet, General Manager of GiPA Group UK, the Automotive Data and Research provider, unveiled at AM Live his company’s latest estimates on the speed of adoption of pure electric and hybrid vehicles.

His figures, together with numbers from the SMMT, showed that electric adoption is accelerating in the UK:

  • In 2019, 9.1% of new UK registrations were hybrid vehicle sales.
  • 1.4% were battery EVs. 
  • This means over 10% of new vehicles being sold in the UK are already ‘electrified’.

But it was GiPA’s analysis of the number of trips to a workshop by type of vehicle, that offered fresh, positive insight.

They found that, given the average age of a hybrid or BEV vehicle across the entire EU5 car parc was 3.3 years old at the end of 2018, each of these electrified cars had been into a service centre an average of 1.32 times in its short life.

That figure is intriguingly higher than a typical ICE (internal combustion engine) which, in the first 3.3 years of its life, only goes in for servicing 1.27 times. 

GiPA’s research revealed 3 key factors should drive up visits to franchise dealer workshops over the next few years:

  1. Independent workshops and fast fit operations are tending to turn away hybrid and electric vehicles even for routine tyre, brake and normal car battery replacements because they have a fear of dealing with these types of vehicles.
  2. Customer research of BEVs and hybrid owners has revealed them to be more loyal to franchise dealers than ICE vehicle owners. 
  3. The ICE vehicle car parc itself is getting older – today the average ICE vehicle is 9.5 years old and by 2025 it will be 11.2 years old. So more work will be coming the way of independents from this ageing unless scrappage schemes are introduced.

Service centres which are actively promoting capabilities in servicing electric vehicles are seeing as much as 60% growth in business, GiPA found. Those who are ready for the electrification wave are already reaping rewards. While those servicing ICE vehicles, should see steady growth in demand if they maintain ICE technician skills in-house. 

During the talk Nash also unveiled that the IMI is now driving through professional standards, working with the Department for Transport and Office for Low Emission Vehicles, for selling and servicing electrified vehicles – all under its campaign banner ‘TechSafe’. This means:

Senior management must ensure that all staff working on electric vehicles are operating within the requirements of the Electricity at Work Act, which is rigorously enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.  

Only 5% of technicians are currently qualified to work on high voltage systems seen within electric vehicles and yet we now know that more than one in every 10 new cars sold in the UK are electric or hybrid variants, that’s about 220,000 electric cars sold this year so far – more than 100% growth on 2018’s numbers. More than 11m electrified vehicles will be on our roads by 2030.

The IMI has developed qualifications and accreditations, supported by e-learning resources and deliverable through more than 600 IMI Approved Centres, which will provide individuals with the means to achieve TechSafe registration on the IMI’s Professional Register.   

The IMI is also developing professional standards for working on vehicles using Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). 

Calibrating ADAS features on vehicles, particularly following accidents, has been identified as a major issue by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre (MIRRC) at Thatcham, which is now working with the IMI to establish an industry Code of Practice which will set minimum repair standards, undertaken by appropriately trained and qualified individuals.

According to Nash: “Nearly every new car has some level of driver assistance on it, yet the level of knowledge out there to set those systems up after repairs, even after a windscreen replacement, is really poor. Many don’t have the knowledge or the equipment to do that work.” 

The IMI, working with Thatcham and others hopes to change that.

All in all, this is a great insight for those running dealerships and service centres. It’s clear that there are as many opportunities as challenges presented by OEMs’ accelerating deployment of both electric vehicles and self-driving capabilities.



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