Knowledge bottleneck will curb electric fleet growth

Dec 05, 2020

Charging an electric vehicle in the car service. Future of the automobile. Red colors

IN THE bid to decarbonise road transport, the government is turbocharging its commitment to improving air quality by driving down emissions and banning the sale of new cars and vans powered wholly by petrol and diesel from 2030.

This announcement, as part of the ten-point climate plan, will not only accelerate sales of electric and hybrid cars but local authorities and organisations also will be expected to set the standard for this revolution by electrifying vehicle fleets.

By 2025, the UK fleet vehicle industry will account for 75% of all electric cars on the road and local authorities in particular have a significant part to play in helping motorists’ transition to ultra-low emission vehicles.

Taking advantage of the government’s Road to Zero Strategy funding, they can become important drivers of change while organisations can tap into business grants and benefit from tax incentives when switching their fleet to electric vehicles.

However, currently, around a mere 5% of vehicle technicians in the UK are adequately trained to work on electric vehicles. That means the training plan for all those who are likely to work on EVs – from service and repair technicians to fleet or transport managers – needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

In fact, the high voltage nature of EVs introduces safety considerations and hazards to all users. Every employee who comes into contact with these vehicles during their day-to day duties requires training, enabling them to safely operate and work alongside them.

In accordance with the Electricity at Work regulations enforced by the Health & Safety Executive, all employers have a responsibility to ensure employees are adequately trained otherwise they may find themselves liable.

As a result of the lack of knowledge and training channels filtered down to local authorities and organisations, many employees claim that they have received only very basic training through a PowerPoint presentation.

This knowledge bottleneck may thwart employee usage of EV vehicles so fleet electrification may just become a ‘tick the box’ exercise.

Mandla Ndhlovu, head of Milton Keynes-based Autotech Training, says that many organisations that are purchasing electric vehicles for their fleets do not always have the resources to carry out basic maintenance and repairs on EVs.

Many fleet managers admit that, while they have the electric vehicles, their workshops do not have adequately trained technicians to carry out even the most basic repairs or servicing.

Mandla Ndhlovu

The adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles is accelerating. Enquiries for EVs rose by 500% in the week following the government’s announcement of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel vehicle sales. Sufficient training is readily available to make vehicle technicians electric and hybrid safe, it is not regulated by the government.

“The automotive industry has been beset by a widespread skills shortage for years and there is now a serious shortfall in the number of vehicle technicians sufficiently trained to service electric and hybrid vehicles,” says Mr Ndhlovu.

“Therefore it is paramount that technicians and any employee expected to work around electric vehicles are correctly trained to not only instil confidence but also to guarantee their safety.”

Auto Tech to open dedicated EV training centre at its HQ

To demystify electric vehicles and offer training, from basic awareness to a Level 3 IMI accredited course, Autotech Training is to open a dedicated EV Training Suite within its Linford Wood Business Park headquarters this month, complete with an electric car to deliver hands-on learning.

Available to any company or local authority electrifying its fleet, the EV Training Suite will also complement Autotech Training’s current on-site EV training programme which can be delivered on the premises of any garage or business looking to equip their employees with the relevant knowledge, while keeping their time away from business to a minimum.

Autotech Training is a dedicated division of Autotech Recruit, the UK’s largest employment and training solutions provider for the automotive aftermarket.

Visit www.autotechrecruit.co.uk/training/

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