Lifting the hood of an electric vehicle (EV) may seem like something is missing.
Electric vehicles have no transmissions, fuel pumps, head gaskets, spark plugs and generally fewer moving parts.
This change is intense enough to shock even the casual observer, and while it can easily baffle home mechanics and panel beaters, it can also challenge trained mechanics.
Motor Trades Association (MTA) New South Wales (NSW) chief executive Stavros Yallouridis warns Australia lags behind the rest of the world in retraining its auto workforce .
With more than 100,000 Australian technicians needing more training as the number of electric vehicles on Australian roads increases by 2030, experts are paying little attention to addressing the issue. It warns that it is not
The automotive group is urging state and federal governments to take urgent action to boost electric vehicle training and avoid “failed EV deployments.”
This is a predicament raised by industry groups following a previous federal budget that included a fringe benefit tax cut to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
Issues such as fuel emission standards and charging infrastructure dominated the debate over the spread of electric vehicles on Australian roads, while the issue of maintaining them was ignored.
“Professional training in electric vehicle and battery maintenance for mechanics is essential to avoid workplace safety hazards and driver risks,” says Yallouridis.
There are over 49,000 licensed automotive technicians in NSW and over 100,000 nationally.
Yallouridis said the association has invested $1 million (US$680,000) to procure specialized electric vehicle equipment from Germany to create short educational courses on safety and maintenance.
But training a workforce across New South Wales will cost more than $100 million and the government will need to work with industry to share costs and develop standards, he said.
“To do less would be reckless and jeopardize our ability to transform, reduce emissions and meet our international obligations,” Yaloridis said.
“No one wants to see an EV deployment fail. It has to scale properly from the start.”
There are over 83,000 electric vehicles on the roads in Australia, with more than 100,000 expected to hit the roads in the coming months.
Hugo Acosta of Kama, a fleet operator, said there was already a shortage of mechanics trained to fix electric cars, albeit a small number.
Acosta said the company, which inspects, repairs and sells used cars online, is having trouble finding mechanics trained to service both petrol and electric vehicles.
“There are delays in certifying and providing training for these technicians,” Acosta told AAP.
Carma was looking for a few apprentices, but new recruits faced limited opportunities and had to choose between completing four years of training in either electric or petrol vehicles.
“Of the registered training institutions, only 7 offer EV training for apprentices to 168 organizations in[internal combustion engine]vehicles,” said Acosta.
“Obviously, it’s a challenge because these new people are coming into the industry and they have to choose.”
Colin Jennings, MTA NSW Head of Government Relations and Advocacy, said the car apprenticeship is also complicated by its practical component.
Each apprentice must be paired with a mechanic trained in servicing electric vehicles, which is not yet a common qualification.
“A lot of what apprentices do is hands-on,” Jennings said.
“The apprenticeship may start today, but the question will be whether the person in the workshop supervising the apprenticeship has the skills[to fix an electric car].”
Workers in related fields will also need further training. For example, handling an electric vehicle damaged in an accident can pose risks to untrained staff.
“Each technician, whether they work in a service center or not, from tow truck drivers to panel beaters to spray painters, needs to be upskilled on how to power down an electric vehicle,” Jennings said. said.
“Batteries in electric vehicles store up to about 800 volts. If they are damaged and not handled properly, they can be dangerous.”
Australia may have just seven years to ramp up training for thousands of new and experienced auto workers.
The ACT has adopted a sales target of 80% electric vehicle sales by 2030, while Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales must achieve 50% market share by then. I am aiming for
Australia’s transport transition could face another speed bump if the government does not work swiftly with industry.
“In five years, we don’t want three-quarters of our workforce not knowing how to use an electric vehicle,” says Jennings.