In the past decade electric, hybrid and PHEV cars have exploded in popularity. Pure electric vehicle sales especially have grown continuously and this year is set to be another record, with over 19,000 sold in the UK to date. The thing is, most people won’t have a clue what goes on when it comes to servicing.
Pro-Moto has been following this journey and providing industry-approved training for over ten years. Nearly 4000 professionals have gained the skills and knowledge – and accreditation – to work on EVs and other electrified vehicles (such as hybrids) thanks to the company. Pete Kearney, Strategic Business Exec at Pro-Moto, recognises that from the owner’s point of view, ignorance to the mystery of electric propulsion is natural given the fact we’re still in the early adoption stage.
“Whilst traditional petrol and diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) cars require a large number of engine parts to be checked, maintained or replaced, pure EVs cars only have three main propulsion components; the electric motor, the on-board charger and the inverter. Traditional ICE servicing procedures will require continual or periodic replacement of consumables such as oil filters, spark plugs and engine oil, yet none of these exist in an EV,” Pete points out.
“A simple yet striking example of a comparison between an ICE and equivalent EV is that the ICE drivetrain can contain more than 1000 moving parts, an EV drivetrain contains around 20!”
This wholesale change in the way we think about the oily, noisy bits that make cars move means that many people are in the dark on the subject. The Motor Ombudsman recently conducted a survey of almost 2000 drivers which investigated this. Whilst upwards of two-thirds knew that things like the brakes, suspensions, windscreen wipers and lights needed checking during an EV service, 40 per cent thought the oil filter would need examining, 30 per cent believed an EV would need an oil change and 26 per cent thought the spark plugs might need changing.
Hilariously, 26 per cent of people thought that an EV’s emissions would need to be taken. This could possibly indicate that the almost universal ‘zero emissions’ tagline used in EV advertising needs to be put in bold, all caps and at minimum of 42pt in all marketing.
This lack of mechanical complexity does mean that owners could be in for a pleasant surprise when it comes to total cost of ownership. Pete says: “Servicing an EV will be significantly cheaper, quicker and more straightforward than petrol or diesel counterparts.” And he dropped into conversation that some manufacturers are estimating that the figure could be as much as 80 per cent cheaper when you factor parts and repair into the equation.
The other major point of ignorance among car drivers is knowing whether their local garage is equipped and has the knowledge to even look at their EV, let alone start pulling it apart and replacing bits. This is especially important now the second hand EV market is taking off. The Motor Ombudsman’s research found that 84 per cent of drivers simply wouldn’t know whether a local garage can maintain an EV.
Empowering people with the tools to find out is an important step for the market as a whole. The Ombudsman has now added garages that are EV-approved to its Garage Finder tool, but as a training provider in EV aftersales, Pro-Moto has some pointers and reassurances for those who might be worried about whether there are enough qualified garages out there.
“Pro-Moto is one of a number of progressive companies which decided that a critical ingredient in the success and continuing advancement of the EV industry would be the skills, competencies and insights of the people and organisations working within it,” says Pete.
“About nine years ago Pro-Moto worked closely with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) to create and develop specific hybrid and EV accreditations to establish high and measurable standards of competence, knowledge and professional skills for individuals and organisations working in the electrified vehicle industry.”
Boiled down, they established a set of standards that mean more people within the industry won’t electrocute car owners or themselves if they undertake servicing or repair work. If a garage has an IMI Approved logo on its website or literature, you can be pretty confident they know what they’re doing.
These training and accreditation schemes apply to all types of businesses too, meaning that there’s actually a huge choice for EV owners when it comes to picking a garage. “Businesses we have trained and accredited include vehicle manufacturers (franchised locations), independent servicing and repair companies, recovery and rescue services, technical colleges, crash repairers, insurance companies... The list goes on. In fact, Pro-Moto alone has accredited more than 3600 EV-skilled professionals during the past nine years,” continues Pete.
As well as the Ombudsman’s Garage Finder, there are other online tools which Pete recommends EV owners use to pick a qualified garage to take care of their car. The IMI Professional Register has a database of 23,000 entries that can be searched by location, skill set or name. The Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance (HEVRA) is another trustworthy source of up-to-date information and Pete says that if its logo is displayed, the garage knows what it’s doing. He also mentioned the app that Pro-Moto has developed which, whilst primarily aimed at workshops and technicians, has a lexicon of practical information for EV owners too. Called Pro-assist Hybrid and available for Apple or Android, it can help with simple things like where to position a jack on an electrified car – something that might seem utterly innocuous but could be fatal if done wrong.
Ultimately the industry must take responsibility for better promoting EV servicing and repair. When you talk to companies like Pro-Moto you begin to realise that it’s a massively under-publicised part of the puzzle which has so many positive stories. Whether it’s the fact that there is already a wealth of accredited businesses out there, or the fact that servicing an EV is cheap and easy, prospective buyers shouldn’t fear routine maintenance.