Vehicle servicing in an electric era

Developing skillsets, implementing logistics

Vehicle preparation and servicing considerations

While historically the servicing, maintenance, repair and preparation of electric and hybrid vehicles may have been left to specialist workshops or the manufacturer themselves, the growth in uptake means this is a trend which those operating throughout the supply chain can no longer ignore. Organisations such as HEVRA highlight garages which are specialists in EV and hybrid work, but more often than not, franchise dealers are now being asked to pick up the workload.

When the outcome of mishandling a battery or high voltage system could be electric burns, a heart attack, or worse, it is important to ensure those working on and transporting alternatively fuelled vehicles know what they are dealing with. Several training programmes exist across the industry, such as the IMI Levels 1 to 5 Awards, to equip technicians with the skillset to work on these vehicles; however, access to talent remains an issue.

Although electric cars require little in the way of maintenance and consumables, checks of the tyres, brakes, suspension, lights and so on are still necessary. Additional work is also needed around the charging port and the gearbox, while all vehicles should be checked over for damage to the chassis and general wear and tear. There may also be specific heating and cooling systems which need to be maintained according to manufacturer requirements. Hybrids obviously have requirements of both ICE and electric engines, with added complexity around discharging the high voltage system before undertaking any work.

"Managing electric vehicles requires a different skillset, specific training and investment. At Manheim Vehicle Services, we’ve focused on all three – equipping our people and our sites with the expertise and tools to support electric vehicles from day one through in-life management, de-fleet and disposal."

Pete Bell, Chief Operating Officer,
Cox Automotive Europe

Developing an ecosystem for vehicle batteries

Unfortunately, battery degradation remains part of the ownership experience when it comes to electric and hybrid vehicles, albeit usually not until around 100,000 miles or 12 years. This does, however, provide opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to engage with the customer and provide support and added value throughout the vehicle lifecycle.

In addition, when it comes to disposal of the vehicle, or a second or even third life via the wholesale markets, expertise is required to assess the battery condition, apply that information to the vehicle valuation and determine the next steps.

Organisations such as Manheim Vehicle Services have the capability to maintain, replace and dispose of vehicle batteries safely, securely and in line with relevant legislation and guidance. There is also work being done to develop individual cell replacement capability to extend the life of the individual battery.

Auction, logistics and remarketing impact

When it comes to pushing electric, hybrid or hydrogen vehicles through the wholesale market, many of the same opportunities exist. Organisations such as Manheim Vehicle Services offer complete packages for inspection services, valeting, reconditioning, transport, and channel management to ensure vehicles achieve the expected wholesale or retail values. 

Manheim’s Inspection Services team has extensive experience with alternatively fuelled vehicles and has developed a robust system to highlight areas for work and added value. Professional cleaning and valeting provide a demonstrable uplift in prices achieved, while it is important to understand what cosmetic work should be completed on the vehicle and where you might be investing unnecessary expense without getting a financial return. Whether minor or major body shop repairs, there are subtle differences in the way in which an electric, hybrid or hydrogen vehicle should be handled.

Supporting the growth of electric vehicles, Cox Automotive has recently invested in excess of £100,000 in partnership with Pod Point to install array charging equipment on site at MVS Bruntingthorpe. This is just one element of developing the technical support and expertise for the physical asset, irrespective of the fuel type or ownership model.