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Motor Ombudsman adds EV servicing register to Garage Finder app

A car technician servicing a BMW i3 electric vehicle (EV)

The Motor Ombudsman has added a new search facility to its Garage Finder to allow owners of electric vehicles (EVs) to more easily find and identify accredited businesses to service and repair their car.

Following in the tracks of the National Franchised Dealers Association’s (NFDA) Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) scheme and the Institute for the Motor Industry’s launch of its TechSafe alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) standards for car technicians, the new search aims to keep consumers informed about the range of potential aftersales providers open to them.

The latest upgrade to The Motor Ombudsman’s online tool also follows the body’s YouGov poll of 1,903 UK driving licence holders which revealed that 84% of people would not know of a local business to get their electric vehicle serviced if they owned one

The study also found that only around one-in-ten respondents (12%) were familiar with how an annual service for a battery-powered vehicle differs from one that has a petrol or diesel engine.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director at The Motor Ombudsman, said: “Sales of electric vehicles are fast gathering pace, and they all need to be serviced and maintained in accordance with recommended manufacturer guidelines.

“Our research showed that there was an inherent need to make it quicker and easier for repairers to make motorists aware that they can service electric vehicles, and for owners to be able to easily find a business where they can take their car in.

“The new facility on our Garage Finder responds to both of these requirements, and therefore we expect it to be an extremely popular addition.”

The NFDA’s Consumer Attitude Survey has revealed evidence that franchised retailers are better placed than their independent counterparts to benefit from AFV servicing thanks to the perception of them having better skilled and more trustworthy staff.

However, the Motor Ombudsman’s study found that, if they were to own an electric vehicle, 84% of people would not know of a local independent garage or franchised car dealership where they could take it for its annual service.

Those living in Northern Ireland, and individuals over the age of 45, would be the least familiar as to where to go, with 94% and 85% of people stating respectively that this would be the case.

Conversely, male drivers (one-in-five), and those aged between 18-to-24 years (17%), were the most conversant as to which local businesses could accommodate this type of car, The Motor Ombudsman said.

In addition, when it came to understanding how an annual service for a battery-powered vehicle differs to the yearly review for a car powered by an engine, only around one-in-ten survey participants (12%) indicated that they would be able to distinguish between the two.

Out of all regions in the UK, licence holders residing in London (16%) and Wales (15%), were the most able to recognise that servicing for zero emission cars had fundamental differences to that for a car running on petrol or diesel fuel.   

The Motor Ombudsman said: “Of the 1,903 adults with a driving licence who took part in the study, two thirds were able to correctly identify that brakes and tyres (67% and 66% of individuals respectively) would be checked during an annual service for an EV.

“Furthermore, over 60% of those polled rightly indicated that the condition of the suspension (61%) and windscreen wipers (63%) would also be looked at.

“In contrast, 40% incorrectly said that the air filter would need to be examined during the routine maintenance of a battery-powered car.

“Similarly, just under a third of those surveyed stated that they thought there would be an oil change (30%), whilst the car’s timing belt (29%), emissions (26%) and spark plugs (26%) would equally be inspected when on the ramp, checks that actually wouldn’t happen during an EV service.”

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