The Prime Minister’s decision last month to delay the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars by five years until 2035 sparked mixed reactions.
While many motorists welcomed the extended suspension of the implementation of internal combustion engine (ICE) models, manufacturers and industry bodies criticized the moving of the goalposts by Rishi Sunak, who had already invested billions of pounds in electric vehicle (EV) projects to meet the original 2030 deadline .
But an industry expert warns that there is one major problem that will still be a headache for motorists despite the delay in banning new petrol and diesel cars: the lack of qualified technicians to carry out servicing.
By 2035, will there be enough qualified mechanics to repair and maintain the large number of electric vehicles on UK roads? The current growth of education suggests this is not the case
Lawrence Whittaker, managing director of used car warranty provider Warrantywise, says there is an urgent need to increase the number of mechanics and workshop technicians available to repair electric vehicles when they go wrong, and to maintain them for the future.
He fears that failure to increase 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 evident that the UK is likely still facing a shortage at this point of electric vehicle technicians will face,” Mr. Whittaker explained.
“I have heard arguments from manufacturers and comments from all sectors of the automotive and transport industries that we need a coherent strategy for the introduction of electric vehicles and the ban on internal combustion engines.”
“However, no one is talking about the fact that regardless of the postponement of this date, we do not have the talent to take care of today’s electric vehicles and that we are not doing enough to prepare for the future… regardless of whether that is 2030 or 2035.’
Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of used car warranty provider Warrantywise, says there is an urgent need to increase the number of mechanics and workshop technicians who repair electric vehicles when they break down
The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) – the body that represents those working in the sector – has warned for years that the country is lagging behind in the number of qualified mechanics to work on electric vehicles.
This point was raised back in 2020, shortly after the original ban on new internal combustion engine passenger cars was announced for 2030, when IMI wrote an open letter to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning of the huge skills shortage in aftersales.
Three years ago, IMI said that only one in 20 technicians had the relevant qualifications to work on electric cars.
And the spread of training is progressing far more slowly than electric vehicle ownership.
Steve Nash, chief executive of IMI, said in August: “More electric and hybrid vehicles are entering the UK car park every day, but the number of technicians trained to safely service, maintain and repair these vehicles simply isn’t keeping up leads to a problem.” real postcode lottery.
“Urgent attention is needed to close the skills gap, improve training initiatives and ensure an adequate supply of qualified technicians to meet the evolving needs of the rapidly growing electric vehicle sector.”
It warns today that there will be a potential shortage of 20,000 qualified “TechSafe” technicians to work on electric vehicles by 2030, rising to 36,000 by 2032.
“What do we need in 2035?” Who knows, but judging by these numbers, the problem isn’t going away,” Whittaker said.
This IMI chart shows the projected skills gap created by the lack of training 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. However, problems with their advanced hardware and software require additional training and qualifications
The Climate Change Committee expects the number of electric vehicles in the UK to rise from 1.1 million at the start of 2023 to 28 million by 2035, with the help of the recently confirmed zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate forcing car manufacturers to do so , to sell a larger proportion of battery vehicles per year from 2024.
While electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than cars that run on petrol or diesel, only people with a TechSafe qualification are allowed to work on them.
“It’s worth highlighting that electric vehicles are, however, more complex than traditional internal combustion engine cars due to the additional technology – and although they have fewer ‘moving parts’, it is this additional hardware and software that causes them to have the habit of driving .” “Wrong in a different way than their ICE counterparts,” Whittaker says.
“That’s why they [EVs] Trained, certified technicians are always required for repairs and maintenance.
“Despite a push from the UK Government, which includes education regulators such as Ofqual, SQA, CCEA and Qualifications Wales, IMI warns that current economic pressures could lead to cuts in funding normally available for training, which could result in Fewer companies are investing in the necessary TechSafe qualification for its technicians.’
And IMI says there has already been a slowdown in the uptake of TechSafe training.
Only 3,345 qualified technicians were certified in the first quarter of 2023 – a 10 percent decrease in EV qualifications compared to the same period in 2022.
The IMI concluded that growing economic pressures are having an unprecedented impact on companies, leaving less money for training technicians.
Another reason for this decline could be the vacancy rate in the automotive industry, which currently stands at around 26,000 unfilled positions.
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