Year-end figures from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) show that over 14,800 dedicated technicians undertook the training and qualifications required to obtain IMI TechSafe professional recognition in 2022. This boosted the total number of qualified technicians able to safely work on electric vehicles in the UK to 39,000 by the end of last year.

The IMI welcomes the effort demonstrated by employers and individuals to upskill for decarbonisation, however, it is calling for an acceleration of training to avoid the potential shortfall of 16,000 qualified technicians currently predicted by 2032. In particular, the IMI is highlighting that previous market expectations of electric vehicles requiring less time for servicing may be misplaced, increasing pressure on a workforce already dealing with an ageing UK car parc.

“Despite a long-held belief that EVs – with less moving parts – will be quicker to service than their ICE counterparts, in-depth analysis conducted by the IMI for our response to the MOT Consultation suggests otherwise”, explained Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry.

“In particular tyre wear on electric vehicles is heavier than on ICE models; according to Garage Industry Trends analysis of 2021 MOT test data, EVs had a failure rate of 11.43% for 2018 registered vehicles compared to 10.45% for petrol vehicles and the weak point was identified as tyres. 

“The assumption that more EVs can be serviced by a single technician compared to non-EVs therefore no longer rings true.  Garages and workshops can’t simply assume they will need fewer technicians to service EVs. Add to this the fact that the UK car parc is ageing rapidly, increasing the need for maintenance and adding to the already sizeable workload of technicians, and it is easy to see how the training and deployment of technicians qualified to work on EVs needs to shift up a gear.”

The IMI’s latest analysis predicts that by 2030, 103,000 IMI TechSafe-qualified technicians will be needed to work with electric vehicles, increasing to 124,000 by 2032. However, the adjusted forecast warns of a potential shortfall of 4,500 qualified technicians by 2029, increasing to a massive skills gap of 16,000 by 2032.

While Auto Trader Insights data previously outlined a decline in demand for electric vehicles due to the cost-of-living crisis, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports an 18% increase in new registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEV) in the first two months of 2023 compared to the previous year.

While the SMMT figures might not signify an end to overall dampened demand for EVs, they do demonstrate the presence of a continued appetite for the new drivetrain from UK motorists before the ban on the sale of new ICE vehicles in 2030. 

“Whether it is the carrot of lower fuel costs, the stick of the 2030 ban, or simply the fact that the environmental message is hitting home to motorists, it seems the desire for EV remains”, said Nash. “We cannot afford to dampen this by eroding customer confidence in the ability of garages to service, maintain, and repair electric vehicles. 

“Despite good take-up of qualifications in 2022, economic pressures are putting a squeeze on training budgets for new EV technicians and for those who are already IMI TechSafe qualified yet need continuous professional development (CPD) to keep up with technological advancements.

“Coupled with the high employment churn, this is putting more pressure on the sector. If the Government does not step up soon with training support, EV-trained technicians will not be available and so it risks scoring an embarrassing own-goal on its decarbonisation target.”

Technicians who have met the IMI TechSafe standards – endorsed by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) – can showcase their credentials by joining the IMI’s industry-wide Professional Register. The Register lists individual members – and their place of work – who have been recognised for their achievements, experience, professionalism and commitment to a Professional Standard of behaviours, and for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Drivers of EVs can access the Register online for free, to find local qualified EV technicians and garages

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