Time is ticking. As electric car and hybrid car sales rapidly accelerate we’re heading straight into a problem no one seems to be addressing: there simply aren’t enough qualified technicians to maintain and repair them. And this isn’t just scaremongering - estimates from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) suggest that we need to train about 50,000 techs in the next ten years to comfortably care and repair for our electrified vehicles.
And that, my friends, is a mammoth task. Luckily, electric vehicles need much less maintenance than anything with a traditional internal combustion engine: the brakes generally last longer thanks to regenerative braking, the coolant doesn’t get as hot and degrades more slowly, there are simply less components to wear and tear. But there are still plenty of things that need to be looked after.
Coolant, brake fluid, gearbox oil and the like, all have finite lives, stuff like steering joints and wheel bearings still wear out. It’s still a machine, and machines need maintenance - plus it would be really helpful if your local garage could service the battery pack and replace any cells that start letting the car down, keeping your electric car in tip-top health.
As far as that goes, servicing an electric vehicle (EV) need not be difficult, but there are potentially dangers for the unwary. For instance, your air conditioning system pump will be directly driven by a high voltage motor, so the air con system oil needs to be safe with high voltages. Many EVs have battery packs that are cooled by air drawn from the cabin, and when fast charging the car control system may turn the air conditioning system on to help it draw cool air into the pack.
But the aircon does more than cool the air, it dries it out, something vital to prevent components in the battery pack corroding or arcing (jumping a spark) across damp contacts. As a strange bit of cause-and-effect, that means that if the windscreen seals are damaged when a replacement window is fitted, or the door seals gets damaged and rain water gets in, then there is a danger over time that the battery pack will suffer damage. Batteries don’t like even a little bit of water.