Navigating the Approach to EV Education
We are existing during a fascinating time in auto repair. We are witnessing innovation that has brought more and more electric vehicles into repair bays, and it is certain that this number will only increase as the years go on.
Electric vehicles are not a trend, even if they are trending. They are, in their greatest sense, a physical representation of the future. With that knowledge in mind, seeing more of these EVs appear at shops may be a cause for uncertainty among technicians and shop owners alike.
It is the sense that yes, there is acknowledgement that this transition is happening, but it begs a few questions along with it: How should this be approached from a repair standpoint? What do shops need to know to best equip themselves for the future?
These are big questions, and they are not easy to answer, either. But a good place to start is by looking inward. Start with a shift in perspective. The world of electric vehicles may be vast, but that is no reason to be intimidated. At least, not according to WorldPac Alternative Fuels Training Manager Isaac Rodell.
“This is a challenge, but this is also an amazing opportunity.” Rodell said in a recent interview with ADAPT. “The technicians that are going to be working on these cars now are the technicians of the future.”
Not only does having the “technicians of the future” on your team sound intriguing, but it is also a rather accessible notion these days. Obtaining these skill sets can be done in a way that is possible for shops of all kinds, thanks in part to many online materials.
For instance, WorldPac offers a virtual training program called the World Professional Automotive Community that centers around vehicle electrification and its subsidiary elements.
Their classes typically run for two days and take place virtually at night, making it easier for those who work during the day to join in. As a shop owner, it is important to find opportunities such as these that align with your team’s schedules, dynamics and overall approaches.
Ideally, the information that is desired in these situations should be accessible to individuals in a way that doesn’t mean putting everything else on hold. Existing knowledge is still extremely critical during the current climate, as there are still plenty of vehicles on the road using internal combustion engines. However, when it is easier to obtain new information, there may be more motivation to complete educational certifications such as the ones offered by WorldPac.
But it doesn’t stop at certifications. When it comes to electric vehicles, it could never be that simple. Part of the challenge with electrification in general is incorporating its information into a shop’s existing atmosphere as well as the day-to-day implementation.
However, this incorporation doesn’t need to be looked at as something entirely new. Keeping up to date on relevant technology is not a foreign concept when it comes to the automotive aftermarket.
“This is really the same challenge as any other new technology that has been added to the automotive industry.” Explained Rodell. “This is really just an expansion on your existing knowledge set. So it really ends up being the same situation every time. Just use every resource that you have available to you.”
A strategic approach is crucial. Get a hold of resources that can help you learn, grow and adjust as a shop. This can be done in many ways, but Rodell recommends seeking out publications, taking electronics classes at a local community college, staying up to date on automotive trends and establishing a community with other shops and automotive industry professionals in order to relay information and hold one another accountable.
In addition to all of this, there is also a tactile approach that can be taken. Rodell is a big proponent of hands-on learning.
“My recommendation is to buy a Gen 2 Toyota Prius with a bad high voltage battery or a stolen catalytic converter.” Rodell suggested. “I would recommend buying this and bringing it into your shop because it highlights every piece of technology that is used in hybrid vehicles and it also highlights every piece of technology that is used in electric vehicles.”
A willingness to seek out EV repair information can already be felt throughout the industry. After all, it is everyday technicians and shops who are making these fixes currently. It is definitely an achievable endeavor as much as it is a necessary one.
It comes off as a bit of a balancing act wherein shops may feel as though they are simultaneously playing catch up and trying to get ahead at the same time. In a sense, that notion is somewhat of the essence of electrification. EVs and all of their components are certainly not going anywhere, and the industry will only continue to evolve. If shops are to act at this time of transition, there is no better time to start than now.
“The future is electric. There is no way around it.” Rodell said. “Shops should be encouraged to get into this and incorporate these levels of certification because it is going to put them ahead of the curve and put their shop in a better position to service the vehicles of the current times and of the future.”