Thorough plans are essential to ensure shops are ready for electric vehicles.
Speedy Auto Service is an iconic Canadian brand that’s celebrating 66 years in business in 2022. Acquired by Fix Network in 2016 Speedy has been undergoing a major transformation, taking this storied franchise into the 21st century and the leading edge of the automotive service repair industry.
As automotive technology continues to evolve rapidly, Speedy has kept up with the times, reinventing its operations while being fiercely proud of its heritage. Amid this march toward the future, has been an emphasis on equipping Speedy’s network of franchise partners with the tools, training and investment for effectively servicing electric vehicles or EVs
Sales of EVs have been steadily growing in Canada, aided by ramped-up media visibility and a range of incentives through both federal and provincial governments, yet many service providers are still in the process of learning what’s required to maintain and repair these vehicles.
Bert Gregory, Director of Operations, Speedy Auto Service, explains that service centres need to look at the fundamentals of EVs in the same manner as they’ve done with change and new technology in the past. “It’s nothing to be afraid of,” he states. “We’ve seen it before many times, from transitioning from carburetors to fuel injection, the introduction of anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control systems, advanced onboard diagnostics and hybrid powertrains.”
Gregory says it’s important for Speedy shop owners, managers and their staff to see this change as positive—an opportunity to learn and develop new skills, cultivate new customers and add new revenues to the business.
“Start with a plan and involve your employees so they’re aware you’re looking at providing service and maintenance on EVs with the future in mind,” he explains.
Additionally, it’s important that shops map out training requirements for properly servicing and repairing EVs. This includes developing effective safety procedures when working on high-voltage electrical systems and related components, as well as ensuring that everybody in the shop— not just the technicians—understands the safety requirements and PPE needed for these vehicles.
While training is a key aspect of preparing to service EVs, so are equipment investments. “Apply the same process with your equipment as you do your staff,” says Gregory. “Evaluate your current equipment and if any of it is nearing the end of its useful life, replaced it with equipment that can handle EV requirements.” A good example is installing new hoists that are designed to lift EVs and can handle their unique battery pack and weight requirements.
Gregory also says such times are a good opportunity to review staffing and look for those who buy-in into the shop’s EV strategy and/or replace those that don’t.
While in theory, creating a separate building or workshop area dedicated to electric vehicles would be the ideal scenario, the reality is that many service centres don’t have the space or resources available to develop a stand-alone EV repair facility.
As a result, in many cases, they will be servicing EVs and conventional internal combustion engine vehicles side-by-side, which requires careful planning and consideration in order to avoid multiple issues, not to mention any potential disasters.
“You must think about all the possibilities that can take place in the workplace environment,” explains Gregory. “Think about the day-to-day activity in a shop and how it changes during the day or during the course of the week. You don’t want untrained technicians or staff sharing work on vehicles they aren’t trained for.” Not only does this apply to the employees and technicians themselves, but also the tools they’re using.
“You don’t want a technician that services ICE vehicles using uninsulated tools on an EV.” To prevent any such workplace accidents, Gregory advises that all staff should be trained, and all tools upgraded to EV standards to avoid any potential pitfalls.
Marketing EV services
Besides ensuring your shop is equipped to handle EVs, there’s also the issue of bringing electric vehicle business to your location.
Gregory notes that one effective way of doing this is by marketing EV services to your existing customers. “They’re already your clients, he says “and they could very well drive EVs in the future.” As a result, why not get them prepared by advertising your EV services now? By doing so, Speedy service centres can make their clients aware of the electric vehicle services they offer, so when clients make the switch to an EV they have confidence that their friendly neighbourhood repair shop will continue to provide for all of their car care needs, regardless of the propulsion system their vehicle has.
Additionally, as EVs become more mainstream, there will need to be specific certification standards to ensure technical proficiency when working on them, Gregory states. And service centres like those in the Speedy Auto Service network can benefit greatly from advertising the certification and proficiency of their technicians that work on EVs. “Doing so will boost confidence in existing customers, in addition to attracting new clients. Ultimately, sound investments in training, tools and procedures for EV maintenance and repair will ensure Speedy locations enjoy a healthy business and robust client base for years, if not decades,” he adds.
There’s a lot riding on electric vehicles and, sooner or later, shops will have to boost their infrastructure to be able to service these complex machines, instead of adopting a wait-and-watch attitude. Here’s to the future!