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Independent garages urged to upskill technicians on electric vehicles


As more major automotive manufacturers pledge their future to electric vehicles, independent garages are being urged to upskill technicians or risk losing business to main dealers.

The rallying cry comes from ZF Aftermarket, after the company announced that its forthcoming training courses on electric and hybrid vehicle safety have sold out, days after they were announced. Already ZF is planning further courses for 2018 and training its own team to deliver programmes on these topics. This is part of a wider organisational effort to deliver accessible and comprehensive electric and hybrid vehicle training to the aftermarket, through ZF Services [pro]Tech Plus network.

According to Matt Shakespeare, Technical Sales Manager at ZF Aftermarket, electric and hybrid vehicles will be the future of independent garage businesses, and the trade could see licensing brought in for electric vehicle servicing at some stage.

Shakespeare commented: “Training demand for electric and hybrid vehicles is high but there are still many independent garages shying away from this type of work and passing requests onto main dealerships. With more and more manufacturers pledging to go all electric, and a very real chance that we will see licensing for electric vehicle servicing in the future, it is imperative that independent garages upskill their technicians to cope with this type of work.”

ZF’s action comes at a time when an increasing number of automotive manufacturers have placed electrification at the core of their future business models, with many setting up electric production centres all over the world. Together with the UK, Scotland, France, India, and Norway, China has recently made a statement of intent to ban petrol and diesel cars altogether in the next few years.

For independent garages, it’s not only important that technicians are trained to service and repair electric and hybrid vehicles, but that they also know how to make these systems safe when they are in the workshop.

Matt Shakespeare continued: “If a high voltage vehicle comes in, technicians need to know how to power it down to make it safe. Various capacitators in the system retain charge when the vehicle is switched off, so it is important that they are all powered down in the right sequence, and the vehicle is made safe for everyone in the workshop.

“We are working closely with [pro]Tech Plus members to help them improve their awareness of electric vehicles, and show them how to work on a disconnected system. These are vital skills if the aftermarket is going to be able to sustainably cater for electric and hybrid vehicle customers.”

ZF Aftermarket is currently preparing further electric and hybrid vehicle training courses for [pro]Tech Plus members throughout 2018 and will delivering a snapshot of its course at this year’s AutoInform Live, which takes place on November 25-26 at the GTG Training Centre in Wolverhampton.