It was recently announced that the Plug In Car Grant is set to be extended until early next year. With a £5,000 financial incentive to buy an electric car, we’ve taken a look at what this could mean for mechanics in the UK.
Electric cars and other ultra low emission vehicles are becomingly increasingly common on UK roads. The main attraction of such cars for consumers, is the opportunity to save a lot of money on gas and maintenance. However an electric car is still an automobile with parts that inevitably will wear out and need to be replaced.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the demand for ultra-low emission vehicles is currently exceeding 10,000, almost four times higher than in 2014. There are currently around 35,705 ultra low emission vehicles registered in the UK, with experts claiming sales will continue to rise. (1)
When electric vehicles were first brought to market in the UK, the only way to repair the vehicle or conduct any maintenance work, was to take it back to the manufacturer or to a specialist mechanic who would charge a considerable amount for the job, compared to the average garage.
With sales of electric and hybrid cars rising each year, mechanics in the UK might consider developing their skills further to offer services and maintenance such as repairs and MOTs on this cutting edge technology.
In addition, the more mechanics who can offer these services will mean the more competitive the price will become, benefiting the consumer. (2)
Electric cars are more expensive to buy than their petrol and diesel counterparts, however the maintenance cost of the vehicle is said to be considerably lower. Unlike other models, ULEV’s do not have as many parts and fluids which could go wrong and need replacing. Apart from the need to change the battery after a number of years, the car should be able to save the owner a lot of money in the long run.
Like gasoline powered cars, electric cars will still need to undergo an MOT annually once they are over three years old. The test will be very similar to any other MOT and is performed by a qualified MOT tester.
The test will analyse whether the car meets roadworthy requirements and should usually last just over half an hour. The mechanic should check everything from the brakes, suspension and steering to the lights, horn and tyre pressure.(3)
Petrol and diesel engines have over one hundred moving parts which can all cause issues if they breakdown, whereas an electric car only has five or six moving parts within its engine and so the chances of a breakdown are less likely. (4)
The smaller number of parts of an electric engine, also means that if the vehicle needs to be repaired, the maintenance is easier to do and should therefore be cheaper.
As most of the electronic features in the vehicle will be new and modern, the chances of them needing to be replaced are low. If the electronic devices, such as an assisted parking system, do break down, they should be covered by the car’s insurance company and so be easily replaced.
Roadside breakdown is a nightmare for every driver. Having to wait for a recovery vehicle on the road is annoying at the least but for electric car owners, this common driving issue can be a complete disaster.
Unlike other vehicles, if an electric car breaks down, the roadside recovery services might not have the right tools to fix the vehicle immediately or even have the skills to assess what has gone wrong in the first place. Their only option is to simply transport you to the nearest dealership or specialist for a repair. This can cost both time and money.
However as electric vehicles become more widespread, repair, recovery and maintenance services should improve and meet the rising demand. Hopefully with more mechanics and recovery services developing their skill set to accommodate such vehicles the cost should also come down. (5)
As in any business, it is vital to future-proof your business and adapt accordingly. Developing your skills as a specialist in any industry will only benefit you and your company. According to the National Careers Service website, the average UK car mechanic makes approximately £20,000 a year. However those who specialise can earn an extra £5,000 annually. (6)
The job of an electric car technician involves using electric and hybrid technology to diagnose faults, conduct maintenance work and repair such vehicles. (7) Daily tasks include taking readings using a laptop or hand-held device connected to an engine’s electricians control unit, often found in newer vehicles, researching faults, using manufacturers’ circuit diagrams and specification manuals, retesting the system to ensure it is working efficiently and maintaining electronic ignitions, alarms, tracking devices, parking and reverse cameras and any other features in or outside the vehicle.
For mechanics who are interested in developing their skills and specialising in electric car maintenance there are a number of ways of doing so. If you are already working as an automotive technician and want to specialise in electric vehicles, consider additional training to advance in your present job. There are a number of training courses you can take to get your qualified such as a Level 2 Diploma in Auto Electrical and Mobile Electrical Competence or a Level 3 Diploma in Auto Electrical and Mobile Electrical Principles. For more information visit National Careers Service Direct. (8) If you are thinking about starting out as a mechanic consider becoming an electric car technician apprentice.
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