Car Dealers, Mechanics Grapple with New Challenges as Electrification Intensifies

As the demand for electric vehicles grows in different regions around the world, car dealerships and mechanics are coming face-to-face with new challenges as the changes brought by electric cars filter through to them.

Given that electric vehicles can have very high-power electric systems, to the tune of 800 volts in some cases, mechanics need to acquaint themselves with these systems in order to stay safe while doing their work. For example, one would imagine that a panel beater may not need to know much about the current running through an EV, but this specialist is required to learn how to disengage an EV’s battery before getting to work on the body of the vehicle.

Additionally, electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and therefore require minimal maintenance. This means that some mechanics, including those specializing in repairing engines, gearboxes and other mechanical systems in EVs, will have to reskill in order to fit into the new reality brought by the proliferation of electric vehicles at the expense of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

As is the case with human nature, not everyone is thrilled about having to learn how electric vehicles work. Older mechanics are exhibiting this inertia the most, with many saying that they see no reason to study electric vehicles when they are close to retirement and currently have ample work on ICE cars to keep them busy until they retire.

In contrast, younger mechanics are exhibiting an eagerness to learn and understand the systems in electric vehicles. Some admit that it is challenging to learn about the peculiarities of electric vehicles while also learning how to repair conventional gas-powered vehicles. However, EVs are exciting to learn about and these younger people look set to move with the times.

Car dealerships also have their own set of challenges. For starters, dealerships are finding it hard to obtain inventory since supply chain disruptions as well as reduced production due to COVID-19 restrictions in some regions have made it difficult for manufacturers to ramp up production in tandem with growing demand. Dealers survive on commissions, and with stocks woefully low, livelihoods are being threatened.

Additionally, a significant portion of income for dealerships comes from the service contracts they sign with their customers. EVs require minimal maintenance, and that means that income from service contracts is expected to plummet over the coming years as more people switch to EVs. Dealerships will therefore have to be innovative and find new revenue streams as startups such as Workhorse Group Inc. (NASDAQ: WKHS) avail more electric vehicles to customers in different markets.

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