DON’T SWEAT BATTERY REPAIR; FOCUS ON HIGH VOLTAGE SAFETY, SAYS EV EXPERT DAVID GILES
BY ALLISON ROGERS
The chances of an automotive technician servicing or repairing a high-voltage battery in a modern vehicle today are very, very low, says electric vehicle expert David Giles. “The elephant in the room with electric vehicles is the high-voltage systems. Everybody is fearful of those words,” said Giles, who has worked with high-voltage technologies since 2004 and currently serves as president of Powered EV Consulting.
“I’ll tell you right now—the likelihood of you fixing a high voltage battery in a modern vehicle, today, is very, very low.” He continued, adding that one of the reasons you won’t have your hands on batteries anytime soon is because battery technology today is “very good.”
“If you’re an AST shop, and you want to get into battery rebuilding, it’s very limited today. These batteries have eight-year warranties; if you’re looking for worn-out batteries so you can offer services to rebuild them…well, it’s going to be a long time.” According to battery cycle time tests conducted at Dalhousie University and other notable organizations, Giles said EV batteries are capable of more than 2,000 charge cycles before end-of-life. “If that vehicle gets a range of 400 kilometres per charge—you’re looking at 800,000 kilometres on that battery pack.
“That car is probably going to wear out before the battery.” Collision repairers shouldn’t be so concerned over battery repair, per se, but rather the required safety measures one must take when working with high-voltage technologies. “If you’re not looking at battery servicing and teardown, [an EV] is nothing more than just another powertrain.” The safety measures required will differ from shop-to-shop, said Giles, depending on what services each offers.
“If you’re going to be doing battery repair, or A/C repairs, or anything where you’ll need to disable a high-voltage system—then, yes, you’ll need the proper PPE to perform those services. But if you’re just performing basic services like detailing, doing tire rotations; you won’t necessarily require the protective equipment you would need if you were to touch that high voltage system.” The question for many collision repairers today, though, is how to know when the required PPE is needed, and for what jobs. “That’s where training and awareness comes in. We need to have the information, and you can learn through online programs, in-person training, et cetera.”
If you’re an automotive facility looking to take the first steps into the electric future, Giles recommends some fairly simple first steps.
“Start by installing chargers. It’s no good taking in EVs if you can’t even charge them.”
Not only that, but it sends a statement to your customer base. “Trust me, I’m part of more than 40 social media groups for EV owners. When a local business puts up EV charges, news travels fast. Somebody in the community will say, ‘Did you see ABC Automotive put up chargers? They must understand EVs, they must be part of our culture!’”