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IMI calls on government to back training of technicians on electric vehicles

IMI calls on government to back training of technicians on electric vehicles

The government must incentivise and support businesses to invest in the training of technicians to work on electric vehicles, according to the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

Only around 3% of all vehicle technicians were currently qualified to work safely on electrified vehicles - the vast majority of whom worked in manufacturers’ franchised dealerships.

What’s more, according to the IMI’s new analysis, Clean Air Zones were failing to deliver on electric car targets, with a national average of eight electric cars per charging point across the UK. London, it said, was the only UK city on target for electric vehicle adoption.

The IMI says it has found “serious gaps” in the infrastructure to support the government’s target of ending the sale of new vehicles with petrol or diesel internal combustion engines as their only source of propulsion from 2040, with some MPs lobbying for an earlier introduction date of 2032 - which has already been mandated by the Scottish Parliament.

Disappointingly, said the IMI, the UK’s ultra-low emission cities were in a race to catch up with demand after failing so far to deliver a sustainable infrastructure.

Sales of electrified vehicles, including full electric and plug-in hybrid, are estimated to exceed one million on UK roads by 2020. But there were currently only 18,000 charging points across 6,500 locations. As a result, the IMI has called on government to invest more money on a reliable and accessible infrastructure.

In a statement, the IMI said that it believed government must also focus its attention on the sustainability of the businesses who were servicing and repairing plug-in vehicles.

The statement said: “Currently, as demand for electrified vehicles continues to increase, there is going to be a serious short-fall in adequately trained technicians - especially as some of the Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles already on the UK’s roads start to change hands and the owners look beyond the franchised dealer networks to find cost effective service and maintenance solutions.

“With so few technicians in the independent service and repair sector qualified or equipped to work safely on the high-voltage systems of electrified vehicles, the IMI is working with government to establish national standards which comply with Health and Safety Executive requirements and meet the employer’s responsibilities under the Electricity at Work Regulations.

Steve Nash, chief executive at the IMI, said: “The recently published sales figures for electric and hybrid vehicles demonstrate that drivers are rapidly making the transition away from pure petrol/diesel engines. However it’s vital that government recognises the new skills requirements needed to underpin the successful move to this new technology - which is entirely different to the skills required to service and repair internal combustion engines.

“Without appropriate training vehicle technicians are at risk of serious harm or even death and employers may be in breach of health and safety regulations. Government must incentivise and support businesses to invest in the training of their staff if they are to have the knowledge and skills to safely work on or around high voltage vehicle systems and technology.”