Motor Trade repairs for a new era

Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

The big subject of conversation at the moment is sustainability. And in the Motor Trade sector, the date on everyone’s mind is the year 2040, when the UK will ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars.

That means the Motor Trade sector has just over 20 years to prepare for an all-electric future. These preparations will have to include training for technicians who will be responsible for maintaining, repairing and testing electric and hybrid vehicles, so that they can meet the same high standards currently expected for petrol and diesel vehicles.

With sales of electric cars increasing at a rate of 34% year-on-year (1) and expected to account for 25% of the Motor Trade market by 2025(2), there’s no time like the present to get up to speed with the training required to fix electric vehicles – especially since recent estimates suggest that only 3% of technicians are currently qualified to work on electric vehicles (3).

New types of repairs and maintenance for electric and hybrid vehicles: 

  • In-vehicle technology: Many of the parts needed to service and repair petrol and diesel cars aren’t needed for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). It will become more important to know how to reboot and update in-vehicle computer software and remove battery packs.
  • Sensor calibration: Cars are increasingly being fitted with smart features such as rear-view cameras and autonomous emergency braking. These are collectively known as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS. They rely on a combination of cameras and sensors to work, and if these get knocked out of place, they will need recalibrating.
  • SMART: Small and Medium Area Repair Techniques are changing the way mechanics fix accident damage. The process allows them to repair only the damaged area without having to replace the entire panel or bumper. It’s ideal for fixing paintwork scratches and minor dents.

Key qualifications for Motor Traders

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) and City & Guilds set the core training requirements for Motor Traders, offering nationally recognised vocational qualifications including VCQs and NVQs.

IMI courses include diplomas in light vehicle maintenance and vehicle parts competence. There are also new courses and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) covering ULEVs, including an electric vehicle eLearning course and a Level 3 Award in Electrically Propelled Vehicle Repair and Replacement.

City & Guilds courses provide on-the-job training for repair technicians, from those new to the industry to experienced mechanics. Its courses include VCQs in vehicle maintenance and repair and a Level 3 Award in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Repair and Replacement.

Thatcham Research’s Automotive Academy provides training for body shop technicians, vehicle damage assessors and insurance engineers wanting to keep up to date with emerging technologies. Its CPD courses now include High Voltage Vehicle Preparation and Assessment and High Voltage Vehicle Awareness. It also offers a course on ADAS and Calibration.The BSI Kitemark for Vehicle Damage Repair is BS10125. Those who wish to receive the full three categories of the kitemark must now undergo Level 2 training for electric/hybrid vehicle maintenance.

Keeping training records

It’s important for motor traders to record staff members’ continuous development to ensure they’re not held liable for defective workmanship or safety breaches. Here at NIG, we expect up-to-date records of:

Technical Training

It’s predicted that ADAS technology will have saved more than 2,500 lives and prevented 25,000 serious accidents by 2030 (4). But it will only work if car technicians are equipped with the right skills to calibrate it accurately. For example, if a technician fits a windscreen incorrectly and it’s got autonomous locator sensors on it, they’ll need to recalibrate the sensors. But if they’re not trained to do so, the insured may be held liable.

Health and Safety Training

Electric vehicles can contain circuits running at up to 650V compared with up to 24V for a traditional car. This presents real risks to mechanics and technicians – including roadside repairers – if they’re not properly trained for working with high-voltage electrical vehicles.

The IMI has been campaigning for the Government to invest in training for ULEVs as only 1% of technicians are trained to work safely with high-voltage technology (5).

Employers should carry out a new type of risk assessment as they could be found liable if they don’t comply with safety regulations surrounding working in a technical capacity with electricity.

Assessing new safety standards

New technology means new risks. Make sure you understand how to identify, assess, take action and review these standards by reading our article about the evolving nature of Motor Trade risks.

It’s a good time to be speaking to your Motor Trade clients about keeping up-to-date training records, the types of training available and the changing nature of the Motor Trade market.

NIG’s new Motor Trade One product includes Defective Workmanship and Employers’ Liability as cover options. Defective Workmanship covers new types of vehicle repair processes for electric and hybrid vehicles and those vehicles with advanced technology such as ADAS recalibration.