In the moments after a car crash, the petrol that spews from the wreckage can cause disaster — but the battery of an electric vehicle (EV) can also be deadly.
- Dealers typically generate significant profits from car-servicing contracts, however, that revenue is under threat because electric vehicles need a lot less
- Tyres, wipers and fluids still need to be checked, but EVs do not have radiators or fuel lines to maintain nor spark plugs to replace
- Programs are being run to help mechanics and dealers upskill to handle the new wave of electric vehicle customers
It is just one of many challenges facing the auto industry as it adapts to the insatiable demand for electric vehicles.
Tasmanian Automotive Chamber of Commerce state manager Bruce McIntosh said it was “imperative” that everyone who worked on electric vehicles knew how to get the job done safely.
“We’re dealing with systems that are upwards of … 800 volts. So serious injury and, in some cases, electrocution are realities,” he said.
To help the industry prepare for the transition to EVs, the chamber designed a nationally accredited safety training program with TasTAFE.
Trainer Chris Whyte has taught a range of professionals who deal with cars, from panel beaters to mechanics.
“And tow truck operators. Usually they are first on the scene to pull cars out of an accident,” he said.
“It’s also legislated that you do need to hold this unit of competency now to be able to work on the high-voltage systems of an electric vehicle at a dealership.”
Tough choices in embracing change
Apprentice mechanic Brodie Vock has been learning how to disengage an electric vehicle battery so he can safely commence maintenance.
“I’m still learning all the mechanical stuff, so throwing in this stuff is definitely not easier,” he said.
“But it’s really interesting, really fun.”
While there is huge demand for electric vehicles from consumers, the transition puts car dealerships in a difficult situation.
Traditionally, dealers generate significant profits from car servicing contracts, however, that revenue is under threat because EVs need a lot less work than do petrol-powered vehicles.
Tyres, wipers and fluids still need to be checked but EVs do not have radiators — nor some even fuel lines — to maintain nor spark plugs to replace.
Buckby Motors dealer principal Lewis Crichton has been considering how his business can adapt to the impending servicing shortfall.
“We’re going to have to be more flexible, we’re going to have to look at other parts of the business,” he said.
“User cars, parts, finance, just try [to] find other streams, because electric cars are going to be cheaper to run.”
In the meantime, he is upskilling his staff to ensure they are ready to handle the new wave of electric vehicle customers.
“We’re going to have to if we want to stay in business,” he said.
“Electric cars are coming. It’s the way of the future and we’re going to have to adapt to it and pretty quickly.”
Servicing for imported vehicles
While some sections of the auto industry are embracing change, Clive Attwater from the Tasmanian branch of the Australia Electric Vehicle Association has seen some reluctance.
“Many of the mechanics that I’ve spoken to said, ‘Hey, I’m in my 50s. Why would I bother to learn that new stuff now? I got enough to keep me busy till I retire’,” he said.
“There’s a degree of reticence just to change and that’s understandable. But I would say I’ve met some young mechanics who are keen, they really want to get into them.
“They see a future.”