The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) in the U.K. is calling on its government to make a $37 million investment in specialist hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle (EV) training for thousands of maintenance and repair technicians in the independent retail sector.
According to the IMI, this investment is crucial to support the public switch to ultra-low-emission vehicles (ULEVs).
As reported, the IMI says the government will need to spend a proportion of the $815 million set aside to promote the uptake of low-emission vehicles on developing a technical skills infrastructure across the U.K. The institute says the $49 million already allocated to cities to meet air quality and emission targets – and the Chancellor’s goal of every new car and van being a ULEV by 2040 – will not work in isolation.
Research commissioned by the IMI shows that U.K. sales of electrified vehicles have doubled since 2015 – but despite this growth, the number of qualified repairers in the U.K. remains at around 0.4% of the 250,000 mechanics working on cars and vans commercially.
Insurance premiums for electrified vehicles are already 30%-50% higher than diesel cars because of the lack of qualified repairers. Further, over 90% of independent garages say they would need to re-train existing technicians to undertake work on these electrified vehicles. Unless there is a proactive strategy from the government to encourage this training, ordinary working people will be priced out of the ULEV market and the U.K. will not be able to support the growth of future car technology, the organization states.
“There are currently around 1,000 people qualified to work on high-voltage electrics, and they all work for the vehicle manufacturers. Without financial assistance, independent garages that make up 85% of the businesses operating in the service and repair sector will not invest in the training they need without certainty of a financial return,” says Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI.
“That means that their staff will either risk their lives working on unfamiliar systems that carry lethally high voltages or they will simply refer everything back to the franchised dealers, reducing competition in the sector,” he explains. “I cannot imagine that either of those outcomes is likely to be palatable for the government.”
The report summary includes the following:
- The U.K. has 250,000 maintenance and repair technicians and only 1,000 technicians currently qualified at a Level 3 in EV and hybrid car maintenance;
- The overall economic and social benefit of EVs, connected vehicles and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of $63 billion per year by 2030;
- The government should commit to supporting the installation of 1,250 hydrogen refueling stations across the U.K.; and
- The government should make it illegal for unregistered technicians to work initially on EV and fuel cell electric vehicles from 2016, with the scheme being rolled out for all technicians by 2020.
The IMI research, On the Road to Sustainable Growth, has been presented for inclusion in the Modern Transport Bill.