The Prime Minister’s decision last month to delay the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035 sparked a mixed response.
While many motorists welcomed the extended suspension of execution of internal combustion engine (ICE) models, manufacturers and industry bodies criticized the move by Rishi Sunak, who had already invested billions of pounds in electric vehicle (EV) projects to meet the original 2030 deadline.
However, one industry expert warns there is a big “elephant in the room” that will continue to be a headache for drivers despite the delay in banning new petrol and diesel cars: the lack of qualified technicians to its maintenance.
Will there be enough qualified mechanics to repair and maintain the huge number of electric vehicles on UK roads by 2035? The current growth of training suggests no
Lawrence Whittaker, chief executive of used car warranty provider Guaranteewise, says there is an urgent need to increase the number of mechanics and workshop technicians to repair electric vehicles. when they go wrong and maintain them for the future.
Their concern is that not increasing the number of qualified mechanics could lead to an increase in warranty premiums and also delays in repairs.
“Despite Rishi Sunak’s recent decision to delay the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles until 2035, a five-year delay from the previous plan, it remains clear that the UK is still likely to face a shortage of EV technicians by then,” said Mr. Whittaker.
‘I have heard arguments from manufacturers, comments from all areas of the automotive and transportation industry about how we need a coherent strategy on the implementation of electric vehicles and the ICE ban.
“However, no one is talking about the fact that regardless of whether the date changes, we don’t have the talent to take care of today’s electric vehicles and we aren’t doing enough to prepare for the future…regardless of whether that’s 2030 or 2035.’
Lawrence Whittaker, chief executive of used car warranty provider Guaranteewise, says there is an urgent need to increase the number of mechanics and workshop technicians to repair electric vehicles when they break down.
The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), a body that represents those working in the sector, has warned for years that the country is falling behind in terms of the number of mechanics qualified to work on electric vehicles.
This point was raised in 2020, shortly after the original 2030 ban on new ICE passenger cars was announced, when the IMI wrote an open letter to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning of the huge skills gap in the aftermarket sector.
Three years ago, the IMI said that only one in twenty technicians had the appropriate qualifications to work on electrified cars.
And training adoption is accelerating at a much slower pace than electric vehicle ownership.
Steve Nash, chief executive of the IMI, said in August: “More electric and hybrid vehicles are entering the UK car fleet every day, but the number of technicians trained to safely maintain, service and repair them is simply not keeping pace. which creates a real zip code lottery.
“Urgent attention is required to address the skills gap, improve training initiatives and ensure an adequate supply of qualified technicians to meet the changing demands of the rapidly growing electric vehicle sector.”
It warns today that there will be a possible shortage of 20,000 ‘TechSafe’ qualified technicians to work on electric vehicles by 2030, rising to a shortage of 36,000 in 2032.
‘What will we need in 2035? “Who knows, but the problem is not going away judging by these numbers,” Whittaker said.
This graph from IMI shows the projected skills gap created by the lack of training of mechanics to work on electric vehicles over the next decade.
The general assumption is that electric vehicles are easier to maintain because they have fewer moving mechanical parts, but problems with their advanced hardware and software require additional training and qualifications.
The Climate Change Committee predicts that the number of electric vehicles in the UK will rise from 1.1 million registered in early 2023 to 28 million in 2035, helped by the recently confirmed zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate that will force automakers to sell a higher proportion of battery vehicles each year from 2024.
While electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than cars that run on gasoline or diesel, only those with a TechSafe rating can work on them.
“It is worth highlighting that electric vehicles are, however, more complex due to the added technology compared to a traditional ICE-powered car, and although they have fewer ‘moving parts’, it is this added hardware and software that makes them “Habits of walking mess up in different ways than their ICE counterparts,” says Whittaker.
‘That’s why they [EVs] You will always require trained and certified technicians to repair and maintain them.
“However, despite pressure from the UK Government, including education regulators such as Ofqual, SQA, CCEA and Qualifications Wales, IMI warns that current economic pressures may result in cuts to funding normally available for education. training, which would lead to fewer companies investing in the necessary qualification of their technicians.’
And the IMI says there has already been a slowdown in the adoption of TechSafe training.
During the first quarter of 2023, it only certified 3,345 qualified technicians, representing a 10 percent drop in EV qualifications compared to the same period in 2022.
The IMI concluded that increasing economic pressures are having an unprecedented impact on businesses, leaving less money to spend on training technicians.
Another reason for this decline could also be due to the vacancy rate in the automotive industry, which currently stands at approximately 26,000 vacant positions.
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