When we look at recent reports, it’s clear to see that electric vehicles are gaining popularity. No longer are they seen as a ‘passing fad’ that will fizzle out. Whether it’s our addiction to technology, the need for something a little cleaner than fossil fuels or emission targets set by the government, electric vehicles are the future of modern transport. But what does this mean for the modern mechanic? Will there still be a role to play? Will they have to retrain?
A rise in EV car usage in the UK and Worldwide
The electric car market is certainly growing. As of September 2020, there are more than 164,100 electric cars on UK roads. This figure from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows that in the UK alone, growth in the market since 2019 was a staggering 184%. So what about the rest of the world? According to IEA, sales of electric cars topped to 2.1 million globally in 2019, making it a record year for EV.
Will there still be enough work to do on electric cars?
Over the years, we’ve witnessed the complete overhaul of many industries with advancements in technology. Cameras turned from large items mainly purchased by the rich, to tiny gadgets that can be found in the pockets of all smartphone users. We saw tape and cassette players switch to CD’s and then eventually MP3’s. In both these industries, there are companies that have fallen by the wayside, and companies that have moved with the times. It’s no different in the EV market.
One thing that can be said for the human race is that we’ve always adapted to the changing world that we live in, so perhaps we’ll see the role of a mechanic change and move with the times. Remember, whilst there are cars in production there will always be a need to maintain the car!
Mechanics will have to adapt to a new type of car with new problems which may be more technological than mechanical. Petrol car engines have over 2,000 moving parts, and many are assembled by mechanics. In comparison, an electric car has less than 20. That means there’s a lot less to fix and maintain. However, there will be a need for maintenance, electrical fixes, infrastructure, tyre maintenance and bodywork fixes as there would any other car. Round trip tyres, an online tyre supplier said that “the tyres required by EV’s are slightly different to traditional fossil fuel cards, however, they will still need fitting, replacing and regular maintenance!”
Will the demand for mechanics reduce?
So what does that mean for the future of mechanics? Will they be as in demand as we head into the technological age of car manufacturing?
For those with a love of petrol and diesel, the work is not necessarily something that’s going to disappear tomorrow. There will always be the petrol heads among us that will always prefer to use anything but an electric car. Just like avid readers prefer a paperback book to a kindle and others like their coffee without the frills, the demand for mechanics will reduce but not disappear completely. Instead, what will slowly grow in demand is those who have the knowledge and skills to work on electric vehicles.
It’s also important to note that not every car brand/manufacturer out there is currently producing electric cars. There are still some that are behind in the race when it comes to creating the best electric cars out there, and therefore, we’ll likely see a gradual increase in electric cars, even though statistics say there are big leaps in those purchasing and using them. The % of electric cars on the road is still small in comparison to traditional engine cars.
Is retraining the way forward? If so, how can mechanics retrain?
The need for training will likely become important as the traditional work for mechanics starts to dwindle or become less frequent. According to the Institute of the Motor Industry, 97% of active mechanics aren’t suitably qualified to work on electric vehicles. That means that there’s a lot of opportunities for those mechanics to start retraining in order to get ahead of the game and secure that extra work sooner rather than later. It’s better to get onto the playing field and establish customers before it starts becoming too saturated.
But how can one go about retraining as a mechanic? Thankfully, there’s a lot of new training programs available that can help those get the experience needed in working on electric vehicles. Tesla has already launched its own program called ‘Tesla START’, and there’s likely to be plenty of other training programs popping up in the foreseeable future. The need to retrain though, might not be something that’s needed for those who may only have a decade or so left of their career in mechanics. It’s something that you might want to play by ear until the time is right and warranted to start the retraining process.
So what does the future hold?
Electric vehicles are helping to cut the impact of emissions on the environment. The Road to Zero strategy is a plan that has been laid out by the UK government to hopefully have as many as 70% of new car sales being ultra-low emission. This is a goal that they hope to achieve my 2030. So when it comes to mechanics retraining and finding less work with traditional engines, it’s a matter of when and not if.
There’s also a plan to cease the production of conventional petrol and diesel engines by 2040. This might not be right on the mark, but it should give anyone who works in mechanics an idea of what they should be doing to protect their future job. EVs are gaining more appeal due to their ability to get you to and from your destination in one single charge. There are also already many more public charging points, making EV’s an even more attractive proposition. The cost of fossil fuels is only likely to go up in price, whereas electricity is a much more affordable option, and we all love to save money!
Time will tell, but it’s clear that for now, mechanics can continue as usual. Even after the product of petrol cars may be ceased by 2040, there will still be millions of petrol or diesel cars on the road. However, it’s important for those interested or already within a career in mechanics that the future of electric cars is a lot closer than we first thought. It may only be a matter of decades before mechanics will need to adapt.”
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