In our previous post, we delved into the optimal timing for independent garages to transition towards servicing electric vehicles. If you haven't had a chance to read that post, you can find it at the following link
In this blog, we'll explore how garages can gear up to service electric vehicles effectively. Significant changes are on the horizon following the announcement by the Canadian government, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to prohibit the sale of new fuel-burning cars and light-duty trucks starting from 2035. This drastic measure is part of their effort to achieve net-zero emissions nationwide by 2050 (Source: Autoserviceworld). These shifts will dramatically impact garages, workshops, and service centres, requiring them to adapt and update their equipment in order to service the next generation of vehicles.
Electric vehicles may still be a relatively novel concept, but they are rapidly gaining traction owing to their environmental advantages and the elimination of the need for gasoline. Rather than traditional fuelling, these vehicles operate on rechargeable power. Undoubtedly, it's crucial to provide engineering training and invest significantly in knowledge, but the expense of upgrading garage equipment to maintain and service the emerging generation of electric vehicles is an equally important factor we cannot overlook. Seizing the opportunity to invest now and embracing the burgeoning electric trend presents a fantastic proposition. In the current political and socio-economic context, the ability to service electric vehicles provides any independent garage, service centre, or auto workshop with a competitive edge, acting as a powerful attraction for business and a future-proof investment. But what exactly do we require, and how does it contrast with the current workshop design?
1. Electric vehicle battery lift
EV battery lift is a portable full-rise scissor lift table which is ideal for replacing an EV battery pack. To raise, lower, and move components like an engine, a transmission, a seat, a fuel tank, an axle, or a high-voltage electric vehicle (EV) battery. The battery is the costliest component in an EV. It typically represents about 30% of the value of the car when new (Source: Economist). There will be a need for a sturdy lift table for managing batteries. A variety of these are available on the market, and their prices can vary considerably depending on whether you opt for manual or electric operation, your load capacity needs, lift speed and height requirements, as well as important considerations regarding health and safety.
2. High voltage Tools and Equipment
Although modern EVs vastly differ from one another, they all have one thing in common: an HV electrical system. HV is defined as having greater than 30 volts AC current or 60 volts DC current. Whenever high-voltage is discussed, it should be mentioned that special protective gear and equipment is required to disable/isolate the battery or to perform work on these systems. An HV digital volt ohm meter (DVOM) is likely the most common tool that will be used with an HV system. As the name implies, this meter is designed for HV applications and typically can handle up to 1,000 volts. Attempting to use a standard DVOM on an HV system will almost undoubtedly have disastrous results. In addition to the risk of deadly electrocution, the DVOM will almost assuredly be destroyed. (Source: Shopownermag ). The use of CAT III or CAT IV is necessary to make sure that the testing tools are both suitable and safe for work on high voltage systems. Hand tools must be fully examined and insulated to the IEC 60900:2012 standards, and display the international symbols denoting High Voltage Tools. Tools commonly required include socket sets, wrenches, screwdrivers, and torque tools, although most vehicle manufacturers tend to use only a few specific sizes of each. All these precautions are taken with the primary goal of ensuring the safety of technicians, employees, and customers. For HV measurement purposes, a minimum of a CAT III meter is required.
3. Workshop lifting equipment for EV’s
Electric vehicles (EVs) are redefining the standards of automotive maintenance. Their heavy battery packs - weighing as much as an entire Honda Civic (Source: GlobalNews) - make them significantly weightier than their gasoline-powered predecessors. This, coupled with the unique under-car access for battery removal, demands new specifications for lifting equipment. Manufacturers are releasing specific requirements for minimum access, weight distribution, and safe handling of their electric models.
As garage owners and mechanics, this requires you to recalibrate your approach and your workspace. The area around your vehicle lift and safety access points needs careful planning and execution. Dealing with EVs isn't just about lifting a car, it's about safely managing a technological powerhouse, with its unique weight distribution and complexities.
Interestingly, most Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) and EV repairs aren't about the battery packs or electric motors. They are usually more 'traditional' issues relating to tires, brakes, and suspension systems. If you're unable to lift these heavier vehicles without causing damage, you're effectively locking yourself out of a huge service opportunity within this burgeoning sector.
Here's where the stakes get even higher: Incorrect lift placement could damage an expensive battery pack, potentially costing upwards of $15,000 to replace. There's also a potential fire hazard if a battery pack gets impacted or punctured (Source: **UnderHoodService** )
This change is undeniably challenging, but it's an essential part of the shift towards a more sustainable future with electric vehicles. To seize the service opportunities presented by this emerging segment, it's crucial to equip your garage to meet these new demands and safety standards. The future of automotive maintenance may be heavy, but with careful preparation, we can not only lift it but leverage it for success. Let's embrace this shift together, ensuring your garage is primed for the EV era, delivering safe and effective services that propel you to the forefront of the industry.
4. Wheel Alignment
The story of the EV and wheel alignment has yet to be fully written but early indications are that correct geometry is even more important than ever before. Bigger wheels, strange tyre sizes and heavier vehicles will put more strain on the average car than we see at the moment. Add in the radical chamber angles that some EVs run and tyre wear will become a rising cost of motoring. What will this mean for the average workshop? A new business opportunity! Consider effect of incorrect alignment on the biggest worry of the EV driver – battery range. A mere 2mm of alignment error is equivalent to dragging your tyres sideways for 24 feet every single mile which wastes power. Precise alignment will be vital for meeting manufacturer quoted figures. Another consideration is the way that an EV delivers its power – hard and fast! EVs have instant torque and can accelerate very fast, putting increased strain through the tyres. Imagine the effect incorrectly aligned suspension would have on road safety with massive torque loads during cornering. The EV is potentially heavier than its ICE-equipped cousin, further stressing the tyres. It has been recommended that EV drivers have four-wheel alignment checks every six months because it is such an important part of their car’s life. Equally, workshops must be prepared for an influx of drivers demanding quick alignment after they’ve hit a pothole or kerb. For workshops, it will finally be time to ditch the lasers which rely on the human eye and at very best are only accurate to 1mm – or 12 feet per mile. Clearly not enough to cope with the extra demands of EVs (Source: AbsoluteAlignment ). An offering wheel alignment will be key in securing EV business.
5. Installation of fire hazardous equipment
Current electric vehicles operate at up to 650 volts (DC) (Source: TFT ). DC voltages exceeding 150 volts are deemed hazardous for mechanics and engineers working on the vehicles, and voltages above 650 volts are likely to be fatal. Therefore, insulation is a crucial part of any modern EV workshop, and in the event of a fire or discharge, immediate access to remove the vehicle from the workshop is critical. This removal may have to be carried out by fire safety professionals or by EV mechanics, depending on the circumstances. Workshops must face the tangible threats posed by stored electrical energy and explosive gases, both of which have the potential to ignite a fire or cause an explosion.
6. Electric vehicle battery fumes extraction system
The era of electric vehicles (EVs) brings a breath of fresh air, literally, as these vehicles produce zero direct exhaust emissions. However, the challenge of safety doesn't disappear; it just shifts to a new front. Now, our attention is pivoted towards extraction, not for engine fumes, but rather for battery fumes and hydrogen.
Battery fumes can be quite harmful; they can irritate the sinuses, cause severe skin burns, and lead to breathing difficulties if inhaled. Worse still, damaged batteries can harm the eyes, potentially resulting in blindness. It's clear that these aren't issues to take lightly.
So, what does this mean for you, our valued garage owners and mechanics?
In essence, it means the future of your workplace safety is set to evolve. Fume extraction systems will remain a vital part of your garages and service centres, but their design and functionality will undergo a significant shift from the traditional fume hoses currently in use.
We're looking at a future where extraction systems are increasingly sophisticated, capable of activating automatically during emergencies to minimize risk. These aren't just tweaks or upgrades to your existing infrastructure but a complete transformation that prioritizes health and safety in a whole new context.
Your business is about to enter a brave new world of automotive service, and while it may seem daunting, it also brings a whole new level of relevance and importance to your work. You are not only maintaining vehicles but ensuring the well-being of your team and customers in this electric era. Your role is about to become even more crucial in paving the road towards a cleaner, safer future. Let's make the journey together.
As we delve further into the era of electric vehicles, it's apparent that garages, service centres, and auto workshops will need to undergo significant transformations. Beyond merely acquiring knowledge and training, the task ahead includes investing in specialized equipment such as EV battery lifts, high-voltage tools, specific lifting equipment, precise wheel alignment tools, and specialized fire safety and fume extraction systems. It's a challenging path, but embracing these changes not only ensures the safety of staff and customers, but also offers a competitive edge and future-proof investment in the fast-evolving world of automotive services. With meticulous preparation and proactive adaptation, these businesses can be fully ready to service the next generation of vehicles, ushering in a new era of eco-friendly and efficient automotive service.