It is just one of many challenges around the auto industry as it adapts to the EV demand.
Tasmanian Automotive Chamber of Commerce state manager, Bruce McIntosh, said it was “imperative” that people who worked on EVs 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,” said McIntosh.
To help the industry prepare for the EV transition, the chamber designed a nationally accredited safety training program with TasTAFE (Skills and Training Business).
Trainer Chris Whyte taught various 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,” says Whyte.
“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 studying how to disengage an EV battery to start maintenance safely.
“I’m still learning all the mechanical stuff, so throwing in this stuff is definitely not easier,” Vock said.
“But it’s really interesting, really fun.”
While there is huge EV demand from consumers, the shift puts car dealerships in a complex situation.
Traditionally, dealers produce significant profits from car servicing contracts. However, that revenue is under threat due to EVs needing less work than gasoline-powered vehicles.
Fluids, tyres, and wipers still need to be checked, but EVs have different systems and requirements than internal combustion engines (ICE).
Buckby Motors dealer principal Lewis Crichton has been thinking about how his business can adapt to the upcoming servicing shortfall.
Crichton says, “We’re going to have to be more flexible, we’re going to have to look at other parts of the business,”
“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 teaching his staff to ensure they’re prepared to handle the new wave of electric vehicle consumers.
“We’re going to have to if we want to stay in business,” Crichton 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 the auto industry sections are embracing change, Clive Attwater from the Tasmanian branch of the Australia Electric Vehicle Association has seen some hesitance.
“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’,” said Attwater.
“There’s a degree of reluctance 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.”