In a letter penned to the Prime Minister, the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has warned of the logistical challenges thrown up by the government plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
The letter states that currently, just one in twenty technicians working in garages and dealerships are certified to maintain and service battery-powered cars. Without the rolling out of training and funding, the IMI worries that the ban will not be possible.
Their concern comes after Boris Johnson last month announced the acceleration of the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars in order to meet his target of cutting emissions by 68% from levels seen in the 1990s. To achieve this, The Climate Change Committee states that ‘46% of UK car fleet must already have electric motors.’ An ambitious target that the IMI believes to be impossible without addressing issues like mechanic re-training.
While ministers strive for this ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, president and CEO of the IMI, Professor Jim Saker and Steve Nash, claim that there will not be enough trained mechanics to work on the increasing volume of electric cars.
They explain that, while Electricity at Work regulations are already in place, ‘to work on any vehicle that includes an electric battery requires a completely different set of skills to those needed to work on a petrol or diesel or vehicle.’ They go on to warn of ‘serious injury or death’ if these skills are not acquired adequately.
The demand for electric cars is rising, and government and industry initiatives like Go Ultra Low are striving to keep consumers informed about the benefits of EVs. With the promise of cheaper running and maintenance costs, fast, easy home charging experiences and cost per mile down by a quarter, consumers and manufacturers alike are keen to push for a quick transition.
However, in what should be a positive move towards reduced emissions, logistical barriers stand in the way. The IMI open letter states that ‘five per cent of the UK automotive workforce – between 13,000 and 20,000 – are working on around 380,000 plug-in cars and vans.’ An already top-heavy statistic that will continue to cause issue as the ban on petrol and diesel cars looms closer.
If the government wants consumers to continue their inspired purchase of electric cars, the motor body suggests, they must know that they can access fully-trained technicians when necessary. Otherwise, concerns such as these will only add to the uncertainty of a future in electric vehicles.
[Source; Shutterstock, December 2020]
Net Zero Target in Jeopardy
Government auditors, too, have warned that ministers have overlooked logistical challenges in converting the nation’s vehicle fleet, claiming that they have no idea how much it will cost to meet Britain’s overall goal of becoming ‘net zero’ and have been too ambitious in their time-frames.
When considering time-frames, we must also consider external factors like Covid-19, the letter implies. Lockdowns have served to slow the process of specialist electric-vehicle training for mechanics. Before disruptions to training, it seems the sector may have been on track to cope with increasing demands. However, with training all over the country halted, ‘Q2 certification numbers were down 85% compared to the same period in 2019’, making it near impossible for the sector to catch up.
‘The automotive workforce is already behind in the skills required for these emerging technologies – through no fault of their own’ the letter says, before going on to state that ’employers need support and incentives to get more of their technicians trained, and to re-ignite recruitment and apprenticeship plans.’
The letter comes just 24 hours before battery-powered cars, new and old, can display number plates with a green panel that distinguishes them from other vehicles, serving as yet another reminder of this rapidly accelerating transition.
Without immediate attention paid to these issues, the IMI warns that ‘the plan will be compromised and – much more important – the UK won’t meet its net-zero target, and we’ll imperil our next generation’s future.’
They conclude by acknowledging that ‘electric is the right choice – for the environment, for jobs and for our children’s futures’ but that important milestones like the 2030 petrol and diesel ban will not be met without efforts to adequately support, fund and train the after-sales industry.
What are your thoughts on a petrol and diesel ban by 2030? How many mechanics need to be trained to repair electric cars to ensure half of all cars can be serviced?
Tell us in the comments below.
I drive an ev and my normal mechanic would love to be trained up to work on them however he says the course would cost him £5k. any help government or are you just going to keep shafting the little guy?
This is just another, but very important and relevant statistic, in the whole of the Government’s desire for us all to drive electric vehicles. The charging infrastructure issue is only just coming onto the main agenda, with Gridserve opening their dedicated EV charging stationing Essex, with spaces for 36 vehicles. They have plans for a further 100 around the country in the next 5 years. A drop in the ocean when you consider how many EV’s there could be on the roads by 2030, that is if the price of them falls significantly from where they are now -out of reach for most motorists on the average wage. Leasing deals offering 6,000 miles per annum is also ridiculous, and the leasing rate only get higher if you want a higher mileage built-in. These are only a few of the issues that should have been tackled years ago so that they were now coming into maturity.
It won’t happen by 2030.
I can see the sense in reducing carbon emissions, “With the promise of cheaper running and maintenance costs, fast, easy home charging experiences and cost per mile down by a quarter,” consumers are not all keen to push ahead.
They conveniently fail to mention the increased upfront cost, reported recently as £10k for an electric VW Golf vs petrol.
They also fail to mention the lack of joined up thinking with the provision of an adequate & efficient compatible nationwide charging infrastructure. At present this is neither adequate, efficient nor compatible.
Electric motors are so simple even I could work on them. The batteries would have to be returned to the factory for recycling anyway, so theyre not an issue. Suspension, brakes, steering etc are no different to an ICE car.
The future ISN’T electric, the only way to go is hydrogen ! It makes no sense to spend billions on infrastructure that will be redundant in 20 years.
It’s too expensive because it requires a lot of energy to make hydrogen
Um do you actually understand that In the hydrogen powered car it is used as a fuel to make electricity, therefore electricity is the future.
It’s only the high voltage system that presents a problem. I have both of my Electric cars serviced by the garage that did my petrol and diesel cars. Ok as long as they don’t touch the High voltage system. There’s a lot less to go wrong than with internal combustion engines.
It is necessary to have specially trained mechanics for the High voltage systems. Up to a year ago Citroen had only one Electric Vehicle qualified engineer for the whole of the north west of England and they coped.
This statistic comes from the IMI. Who has one of their fingers in the ‘training pie’? Yes. the IMI!
So, 5% is 1 in 20. Does anyone have the data with regards as to how many EVs (including Hybrids) are registered with DVLA? I’m sure the proportion is below 5%. As already pointed out, the ‘specialist’ is only required/allowed to work on the high voltage ‘bits’ and these are surely the most reliable parts of the vehicle with minimal, if any, routine maintenance. When a workshop finds it needs to have more of its staff trained to ‘touch’ the EVs then they will have them trained then, not now.