EV Repair Considerations

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Stu Klein is Senior Director, Collision at AIA Canada. You can reach him at [email protected]. Photo Stu Klein

For many collision centres, there are still a lot of questions surrounding electric vehicles.

To begin with, a collision centre needs to determine whether it wants to be in the EV repair business or not. That in turn will help them decide the investments they make in terms of staff, training and equipment, as well as the facility. For example, will you be able to incorporate EV repairs into your existing shop, or will you have to create a separate space or even a location that’s dedicated exclusively to electric vehicles?

On the tools and training side, there’s no question that many full EVs (battery electric vehicles) are engineered and constructed differently from their internal combustion engine counterparts. They require special tools, including specific types of vehicle lifts, as well as battery tables and battery removal tools.

Staff safety

There’s also the safety aspect to consider when working on high voltage systems, such as ensuring your technicians and staff are equipped with the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including insulated gloves, boots and specially insulated hand and power tools.

And before you even begin to start repairing EVs, you’ll need to make sure your staff are properly trained to handle them and properly utilize the tools required. Shops will also need to establish a safe intake process when repairing EVs and have access to the right OEM repair information.

When it comes to training, it’s imperative that the programs your employees take meet some standard to ensure their safety when working on EVs. While currently, there is no Canadian or even North American standard for training and safety for EVs, I-CAR Canada has followed the European ECE-R-100 when developing its own EV training requirements.

Multi-step program

Also, following a multi-step program, where there is a general safety and proper vehicle intake process, followed by understanding electronics and EV systems, diagnostics, and how to manage the vehicle throughout repairs, and finally, vehicle-specific OE training will be essential to ensure consistent, quality, and safe repairs for EVs.

Some key considerations to help ensure this will include having technicians take in-depth training (such as I-CAR’s 5-day hands-on course) and following the vehicle OEM requirements when it comes to the necessary equipment (ranging from special PPE and safety items to meters, battery testing and diagnostic equipment, as well as the previously mentioned lifts and battery tables). Additionally, OEMs may require specific tools for working on certain EV models.

Collision centres will also need to consider that EVs tend to be more costly to repair than their ICE counterparts (16-32% more based on data from Mitchell International) and react differently in a crash, with airbags more likely to go off, plus parts composition and replacement is often very different compared with ICE vehicles. Besides the higher cost, EV repairs often take longer since more operations tend to be required. It is therefore essential that collision centres on DRP programs properly communicate with insurers and make sure they break out EV repairs from ICE vehicles when looking at average severity, length of rental and other KPIs to ensure fair and proper performance assessment.

Charging considerations

There is also the question that once the EV is repaired, should it be fully charged before being delivered to the customer to help alleviate range anxiety? And then, how that cost can be recouped by the shop.

While different collision centres in different markets will also see different levels of EV repairs, which in turn will impact the amount they are willing to invest in order to fix these vehicles properly, the future is coming, and if your shop is not prepared, I see this as an opportunity for your competition.


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