Gearing up for EVs

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Diane Freeman. Photo Diane Freeman

They are coming but are you ready for them?

Did you know that by 2030, the federal government wants 40% of new vehicles to be electric?  When we heard these numbers, we knew it would require a very significant commitment by vehicle OEMs in addition to the Government of Canada’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP). This is a $680 million initiative ending in 2027 whose objective is to address the lack of charging and refueling stations in Canada. At present, this remains one of the key barriers to ZEV adoption. ZEVIP aims to address this by increasing the availability of localized charging and hydrogen refueling opportunities where Canadians live, work and play.

Investing in the business

Business owners who want to stay ahead of the curve know that in order to grow their business, they need to invest in it. This begs the question—who is the most important person in your business? Is it your staff that you rely on everyday to keep your doors open and bring your customers back? If it is, are you investing in your staff by sending them for training and if not, why not? Too many times we hear “I can’t afford to lose my technician off the floor for the day, or, it costs me too much money.” Well, consider this: If you send your technician to training for 1-2 days, you might not have them working in the shop during that time. But what you gain by sending them away for training tends to far outweigh a couple of days being absent from the business. Let’s say you send a technician to training in order to keep up with advancing vehicle technology and they come back with new skills that allow them to diagnose, service and repair Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. This investment in training often translates to more dollars in your pocket. If the shop around the corner doesn’t have the tools, equipment or technicians to be able to work on EVs, this gives you the opportunity to market yourself by advertising that you are EV certified and that your technicians have the training and skills to work on these vehicles.

Already purchasing EVs

Remember, 40% of new vehicles are planned to be EVs by 2030 and that’s only eight years away. Consumers are already purchasing these vehicles today and the waiting list is not a deterrent to buying one, even if they have to wait a year to receive their new vehicle.

Gas prices are increasing, food prices are increasing, so that brings me to my next question “Why are you not increasing your door rate?”  If you’ve invested in your equipment, tools, staff, training and IT infrastructure, why are you afraid to raise the door rate to a level where it should be?  Dealerships door rates tend to be much higher than independent Automotive Service Providers, yet independent shops have the same knowledge, if not more and yet we don’t value our worth the same as the big guys.  It is time we realized that we are professionals and should be charging for our time accordingly.

What do you think will happen if the consumer goes to the shop down the street instead of to your business because your technicians aren’t qualified to properly service their vehicle? When you invest in equipment and tools, you must also invest in the knowledge so that your technicians can utilize them to full advantage and repair today’s advanced vehicles.

When a consumer spends up to $120,000 on a vehicle, they don’t want just anybody looking after it and this applies whether it’s a traditional ICE vehicle or an EV.

There are signs that we are on a major growth trajectory for EVs and these vehicles still require maintenance, including brakes, tires, suspension and air cabin filters.  Additionally, by investing in charging systems, both inside the bays and also outside the shop, we can properly accommodate EV customers as well as have the opportunity to earn extra revenue by offering charging at the repair facility after hours and on weekends.

The age of the vehicle fleet continues to advance and with more and new types of vehicles joining it, the OEMs and their dealers can’t service them all. Which is why aftermarket service providers have a huge opportunity to not only grow their traditional service business; but capture a big slice of the EV pie as well.

Diane Freeman is President of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO). You can reach her at [email protected].



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