New analysis from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) shows that only 3% of all vehicle technicians are currently qualified to work safely on electric vehicles EVs).
The IMI said the vast majority that are qualified, as would be expected, work in franchised dealerships.
The Government has confirmed that the sale of new vehicles with petrol or diesel internal combustion engines as their only source of propulsion will be banned from 2040, with some MP’s lobbying for an earlier introduction date of 2032 – which has already been mandated by the Scottish Parliament.
Full electric (EV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles, are estimated to exceed one million on UK roads by 2020.
Currently, as demand for electrified vehicles continues to increase, Steve Nash, IMI chief executive, said there is going to be a serious shortfall in trained technicians.
Nash said the IMI is currently working with the Government to establish national standards which comply with HSE requirements and meet the employer’s responsibilities under the Electricity at Work Regulations.
Nash said: “The recently published sales figures for electric and hybrid vehicles demonstrate that drivers are rapidly making the transition away from pure petrol/diesel engines.
“However, it’s vital that government recognises the new skills requirements needed to underpin the successful move to this new technology – which is entirely different to the skills required to service and repair internal combustion engines.”
Nash said that without the appropriate training, technicians could be at risk of serious harm and employers may be in breach of Health & Safety regulations.
He said: “The Government must incentivise and support businesses to invest in the training of their staff if they are to have the knowledge and skills to safely work on or around high voltage vehicle systems and technology.”
Volkswagen is one manufacturer that is focussing on increasing the number of technicians that are qualified to work on plug-in vehicles.
The German brand has recently seen 30 of its first High Voltage Experts (HVEs) from within its dealer network finish training.
The HVE course takes two weeks and was completed at Volkswagen Group UK’s National Learning Centre in Milton Keynes.
Only technicians with the HVE qualification are permitted to work on the decommissioning, repair and re-commissioning of battery packs.
HVEs will work alongside the brand’s existing High Voltage Technicians (HVTs) and Electrically Instructed Persons (EIP) who already operate across the network and are qualified to work on the brand’s existing hybrid and fully electric vehicles.
The newly qualified HVEs will be based at 15 Volkswagen Battery Competence Centres being established in existing Volkswagen dealerships around the UK.
Matthew Barham, service development manager for Volkswagen UK, said: “Our Retailers have invested a significant amount of time into this process and are passionate about training technicians in this key growth area.
“Like us, they see it as the future and we are thrilled to be working with such a motivated and passionate team of now fully-qualified Volkswagen HVE technicians.”