At some point electric vehicles will become the norm, not the exception. This means shops will need to start adapting for future needs. Will your shop be ready?By Dave Giles
With the increase of electric vehicles (EV) on the road, shops are pondering how they will adapt to EV servicing. Traditionally, service and maintenance were a necessity to keep your vehicle running and driving clean and safe. With an electric vehicle many of the traditional components are now eliminated. Some of these include powertrain filters, oil changes, engine filters, transmission fluid and filters and ignition system components as well as the thousands of parts and hundreds of moving parts are now gone.
What about maintenance services such as tire rotations, brake service, alignments, and other vehicle related services? With EVs these services are still required same as traditional gas-powered vehicles. The biggest misconception in capturing new electric vehicle service will be understanding what the customer expects from their electric vehicle.
In the past a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicle customer would be in for regular service because the customer wanted to keep their car running and reliable. EV owners are as much concerned with efficiency and range. Electric vehicle owners are all about how far they can travel and how much energy they are using to get there. So, this means some of the most important services on an EV are about maintaining the items that maximize this and understanding this will make adapting electric vehicles to your work bays easier. This also means it opens new services that are not typically found on gas-powered vehicles. These would include underbelly pan service, battery health report and BMS resets among others.
Electric vehicles also have inherently higher wear on tires due to weight and torque. This means more frequent tire rotations, alignments, and suspension checks. EVs have lots of underbelly pans which can capture rocks and dirt, creating added weight, hanging belly pans and causing corrosion. New services like battery health checks and BMS resets are added services as are specialized rust protection applications and protection services.
So, how do you prepare for these services? The first thing is to ensure you are ready for proper procedures in basic services and maintenance. Ensure you know what depth you want your shop to be involved in repair and service of EVs. I know many shops that don’t do engine rebuilds, transmission rebuilds or even head gasket repairs on gas- powered vehicles. So, like engine rebuilding if you want to specialize than your level of equipment will have to be more than just doing tire rotations. Electric vehicles are no different. How many battery rebuilds will you do on a three-or four-year-old EV? How many electronics or drive units will need replacing in the next five,10 years and so on?.
Show that you’re ready and your technicians understand how the cars work and are confident in doing maintenance and servicing. Familiarize them with different brands and the OE requirements for services they need. Some of this includes starting and driving the cars, component locations, safety and lifting cars. Make sure you have good information on the vehicles you service. Then advertise these services. Social media and local radio are great outlets to help get the word out. Having something new and unique is always a good news story for local news media. Consider installing charging stations on the outside of your building. A customer getting a top-up after their service is always a positive note.
Today’s customers are different. They buy cars online, they shop online and have remote access through their smart phone to communicate every minute of their day with the world. This means a shop needs to change as well to adopt and embrace electric vehicles into their bays. Many shops that have already integrated EV services have seen an increase with new customers on gas-powered vehicles commenting. “if you can work on electric vehicles you definitely know about working on my gas car and my next car will definitely be electric””