ADDRESSING THE FACTS OF EV ADOPTION
COLUMN BY STEFANO LIESSI
Many variables factor into the fruition of the mass EV assumption of the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). World factors include bureaucratic political agendas, infrastructure, raw material acquisition, verified testing, and range anxiety. Other alternatives are being researched, such as hydrogen and advanced ICE applications, maybe even plutonium and the flux capacitor. This article reflects our industry here in Canada and some of the mitigating factors we will be exposed to now and in the future. I am not here to solve the world’s problems.
Let us address something; we can’t use common sense because we haven’t developed this yet, because EVs are not common (yet). So, a little sense is what we should start with. Now, note that I did not use the phrase “common sense,” as there is no common sense. Your understanding of a situation is only derived from experiencing the event or an adverse effect of a situation; ergo, if you touch the two wires together, you learn that they make a lot of sparks and blow up the battery. After they put the fire out, you now have a “sense” of what can happen. It is common because the same shared result will occur regardless of who does this. So, how do I get common sense without the bad experience? Begin with education. Where? Oh, where? You ask. There are many areas. OEM are a good start; after all, they made the vehicle you are working on. The publication this article is in will
prove a great resource as well. I-CAR has a variety of available materials to begin from, utilizing some “common” basics that can be applied in a general approach. We could spend days on this alone. EV Friendly in BC has a comprehensive application process to become “EV Friendly Certified.” As the industry progresses, and as I write this article, there has been, and will be more information. However, be wary of the less-than-competent YouTube influencer with, shall we say, subjective credibility. As you read this, more and more contributors are developing educational materials. Should you bother? Maybe you should just let the other place do the EVs and stick with what you know, right? WRONG! Now is the time to get on board because if you are not ready, that little lithium-ion battery will quickly give you one upside the head. If you are a collision repair facility, you must step up or step back because it will happen, agree or not.
Do we understand the OE procedures? After all, we need to, as it is not up for debate or negotiation. Understanding the information is a crucial element to the success of the repair, and knowing when and where to apply the skillset required to repair the EV in front of you is essential in today’s climate. Each OE will vary in procedures, and like technicians, engineers move around. Currently, GM has 25,000 engineers on staff in two US locations (as of this year, GM said it had about 20,000 engineers in total at the Warren tech center and another 5,000 engineers at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, MI. https://www.wardsauto.com/industry-news/ gm-hiring-3300-engineers-propulsion-software- development), with plans to hire 3,300 more for EV development; imagine the communication between them at the watercooler. I’ve given you stats on one OEM, but there are plenty more out there. When you have this many contributing to one entity, you can be sure there is built-in confusion.
Now, let’s be realistic, the average lifespan of a vehicle in Canada is 12.88 years, 15.36 in the US (I’ll attribute that to climate and per-capita influences), so let us work with 13 years. 2035 is the date for the mandate of zero-emission light trucks and cars to be sold (new). In 2034, any gas vehicle sold has the potential to remain on the road for a possible 13 years (non-scientifically speaking). Ergo, that brings us up to the possible mass burial around 2048 (round it up to 2050). Thus, mathematically speaking, we are looking at around 27* years until we are possibly full-bore EV. I know I will be a full EV supporter because by then, at my age, I could very well be using a mobility scooter (preferably a golf cart somewhere warm), so in a nutshell, based on outlying factors (climate-fossil fuel sustainability, etc.) and the time allotted this is a real possibility.
Why should you care? It is better to be proactive than reactive. Is this going to happen? We have just stated that it can, so let us look at the facts.
WHY IS IT HAPPENING?
FACT: This is a government mandate.
FACT: Climate change is real. Just ask a dinosaur.
FACT: EVs are a reality; OEs do not dump millions into R&D just because they are bored or trying to get a video onto Tik Tok. They will be in our shops over time; some may require specific OE certifications, and some may not.
HOW WILL IT HAPPEN
FACT: There will be challenges with repairing these vehicles; they differ from traditional or current ICE vehicles. They require extra knowledge and education regarding safety and skill set.
FACT: The possibility of this going away is slim, but the EV becoming a mainstay in our shops is a reality. If you feel 25+ years is soon, then yes, they will be here as soon as it has been implied. Thank you, Mr. Government.
FACT: ADAS, EVs and the repair processes will be huge factors in your business. The “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality is obsolete. This will dictate how your business is run, from billing, to accountability, liabilities, and processes.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
FACT: We will fall behind rapidly if we do not begin to educate and train ourselves on this. We are the collision industry; no one else will do it for us.
FACT: There will be costs involved, spread out over time, and there will be rewards had by many. You need to invest in your staffing with training and education.
FACT: Complacency will not be your friend; you must change and revise the culture. This applies to all involved, shops, vendors, carriers, banners, OEs, etc. If you think the status quo is good enough, think again; how things are being done now is unsustainable.
You will need to re-evaluate your approach because there is no room for shenanigans. In my opinion, and you are entitled to my opinion, change is inevitable; the least you can do is acknowledge it and start now to think about education and training. In 27 years, you will be saying, “Where did the time go.”