The Challenges of Servicing Electric Vehicles

 

The internal combustion engine has dominated the automotive landscape for over a century.

However, with the rise of electric vehicles (EVs), a new era of transportation is dawning. While EVs offer significant environmental benefits, servicing these cutting-edge machines presents a unique set of challenges for technicians compared to traditional vehicles. From mastering high-voltage safety protocols to adapting to an evolving technology landscape, let's explore the top 5 hurdles technicians face in the world of EV repair.

1 - High-Voltage Safety

Working with high-voltage electrical systems in EVs poses a significant risk of electrical shock and requires specialized safety protocols and training for technicians.

The  high-voltage environment of EVs demands not just initial training but also  ongoing education  to stay updated on  evolving safety protocols  and best practices.  Technicians must  possess a  heightened sense of  awareness  and  vigilance  throughout the repair process to ensure their own safety and the safety of those around them.

Technicians must be trained on safely disconnecting and isolating the high-voltage battery pack before performing any maintenance or repair work.

 

2 - Using Specialised Diagnostics In The EV World

Diagnosing problems in traditional petrol vehicles often relies on a combination of experience, mechanical knowledge, and readily available diagnostic tools. However, the world of EVs presents a unique challenge – the need for specialized diagnostic equipment and software.

The complex nature of EV technology, particularly the high-voltage electrical systems and sophisticated battery management systems, necessitates a different approach to diagnostics. Traditional code readers often lack the capability to communicate with the intricate control modules and sensors found in EVs.

However, as the EV market continues to grow, the availability and accessibility of specialized diagnostic equipment  are  expected to improve. Investment in training programs will also be crucial in equipping a  new generation of  technicians with the skills needed  to  effectively  diagnose  and  repair  electric vehicles.  By  embracing  these  specialized  diagnostic  tools  and  software,  repair shops can ensure  they're  well-equipped  to  service  the  future  of  transportation.

 

3 - Limited Technician Availability

The EV industry is still relatively young, and the pool of qualified technicians trained to service these vehicles is  growing, but not yet at par with the increasing number of EVs on the road.

Addressing this technician shortage requires  a collaborative  effort from  training institutions, the automotive  industry,  and  government  agencies.  Initiatives  such as  developing  accessible  and  comprehensive  training  programs,  incentivizing  existing  technicians  to  upskill,  and  encouraging  younger  generations  to  pursue  careers  in  EV  technology  are  all crucial  steps  in  bridging  this  gap.

By  ensuring  a  sufficient  workforce  of  qualified  technicians, we can ensure the  smooth  maintenance  and  repair  of  EVs,  supporting  the  continued  growth  and  success  of  the  electric  vehicle  revolution.

Thankfully, AWARE Series by Network Training Partnership is at the forefront of tackling the EV technician shortage by offering a diverse range of Electric Vehicle training courses, from the our EV & HybridAWARE DCPC module, to the IMI-accredited Electric Vehicle structured training programmes

 

4 - Battery Degradation

Electric vehicles rely on lithium-ion batteries, a marvel of modern technology, to store and deliver the energy that powers them. However, these batteries are not immune to the passage of time. They degrade over their lifespan,  gradually losing capacity and impacting the vehicle's range and overall performance. As an EV technician, understanding battery degradation and its potential service implications is crucial.

Several factors contribute to battery degradation in EVs:

Charge Cycles: With each charging and discharging cycle, the battery experiences a small amount of wear and tear. Over time, this gradual decrease in capacity becomes noticeable, reducing the maximum range the vehicle can achieve on a single charge.

 

Depth of Discharge: The depth of discharge refers to how much energy is depleted from the battery during use. Frequent deep discharges (using a significant portion of the battery's capacity) can accelerate degradation compared to shallower discharges and frequent recharging.

 

Temperature Extremes: Extreme hot or cold temperatures can negatively impact battery health. High temperatures can accelerate chemical reactions within the battery, leading to faster degradation. Conversely, very low temperatures can reduce the battery's ability to deliver its full power, impacting performance.

✔ Understanding battery degradation and its potential service implications highlights the importance of EV training for technicians.  Training programs equip technicians with the knowledge and skills to:

✔ Diagnose battery issues accurately using specialized tools and software

✔ Recommend appropriate service solutions based on the severity of degradation

✔ Safely handle and potentially service high-voltage battery packs, adhering to strict safety protocols.

✔ Educate customers about battery degradation and best practices for maximizing battery life.

By staying ahead of the curve through comprehensive EV training, technicians can ensure they  possess the necessary expertise to address the unique challenges presented by battery degradation in electric vehicles.

5 - Waste Disposal

The environmental benefits of electric vehicles are undeniable. However, with this new technology comes a new responsibility: the proper disposal of used batteries and other high-voltage components at the end of their lifespans. Unlike traditional car batteries, which contain lead and other toxic materials, EV batteries utilize lithium-ion technology. While offering significant advantages, these batteries still require careful handling and responsible disposal to minimize  environmental impact.

 

Understanding Regulations:

 

Staying informed about current and evolving regulations governing EV battery disposal is essential. Regulations can vary by region, so technicians need to be aware of specific requirements in their area.

 

Safe Handling Procedures:

 

Used batteries must be handled with care to prevent damage that could lead to leakage of hazardous materials. Technicians should be trained on proper handling protocols and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

 

Working with Certified Recyclers:

 

EV batteries should not be disposed of in traditional landfills. Instead, they need to be sent to authorized recycling facilities equipped to safely extract valuable materials and dispose of remaining components in an environmentally sound manner. Technicians should establish relationships with certified recyclers in their area to ensure proper disposal of used batteries.

 

As the EV revolution continues to gain momentum, a skilled and qualified workforce is essential to ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of these vehicles. By investing in comprehensive EV training programs, technicians can bridge the knowledge gap, navigate the unique challenges of EV repair, and become valuable assets in the evolving automotive landscape.

The AWARE Series bundle of courses are ready to equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the EV industry. Our industry-leading courses, taught by expert instructors, provide a comprehensive foundation for a rewarding career servicing the future of transportation.

Gary Tucker, Managing Director of Network Training Partnership

Awarded the 'Outstanding Contribution to the Motor Industry' by the Institute of the Motor Industry at their 2020 Centenary Awards and a finalist in the Talent in Logistics Industry Ambassador Awards 2020.

A dynamic, entrepreneurial personality and strategic leader with a proactive attitude and history of proven success within the Military and Commercial sectors. Can be relied upon to always produce outstanding results in exceptionally high-pressure situations.