Electric Vehicles & Training

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Sylvain Séguin held a number of important roles in the industry before becoming President of Fix Network Canada. Photo Sylvain Séguin

Fasten your seatbelts, the technological shift in the automotive sector has not finished making us experience strong emotions.

At our National Conference last fall, we were fortunate to have Ryan Mandell from Mitchell as our guest speaker. I wanted to talk about it here, in my column, because what he explained in front of us will impact the entire auto body industry.

First, we need to talk about the current state of the automotive market. As we can all see, the scarcity of new and used vehicles for over a year has had the effect of increasing their value. This in itself is good news for our sector. This justifies repairing vehicles that previously would have been declared a total loss. By the way, this is true for the bodywork, but also for the mechanical part. Because in this context, entrepreneurs will have to learn to diversify their service offering to maximize their revenues.

The increasing complexity of the light vehicles entrusted to us also tends to increase the cost of repairs. The multiplication of parts, sometimes difficult to find at this time, and the repair processes contribute to this situation. A look at the electronic diagnosis of vehicles, which is essential today, before undertaking the repair, shows us the rich collection of anomaly codes that are available to us. In fact, the number of electronic chips is multiplying exponentially in today’s cars.

Electric vehicles

Canadians are demonstrating their intention to go electric when replacing the vehicle they are currently using. Even though Quebec and Western Canada stand out in this respect, more than half of consumers are now considering the acquisition of an electric or hybrid vehicle as a replacement for their gasoline car.

And that, Mandell confirms, will directly impact our industry. This will obviously require an update of the body shops. Specialized equipment and proper training are inevitable. These workshops need to know that training is available for them. What’s more, finding time to train technicians to work on these new structures where innovative materials are proliferating adds value to their position and contributes to their retention.

That being said, shops that have always demonstrated their ability to adapt to all the new automotive technologies coming from the manufacturers will be well positioned to seize new opportunities.

Indeed, electric and hybrid vehicles are still more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. The average cost of repairing an EV is 33% higher than that of a conventional vehicle. In the case of the category leader, Tesla, we are talking about a 44% increase in the bill. The components and structure are different, the processes are more complex and the cycle time is extended by security constraints. For example, removing a battery from an EV, a mass of nearly 2000 pounds, requires know-how and adapted equipment. Of course, this electric shift is gradual, but you have to be prepared for it. We can always evaluate the investment costs, but in this case, we must also understand the impact on our shops of not investing.

We are constantly confronted with new things, it is part of our job. The question is to stop seeing it as an obstacle, but rather to see it as an opening to new opportunities.