Skills shortage driving up cost of owning electric vehicles

A lack of skilled technicians specialising in repairing electric or hybrid cars is pushing up the cost of owning one, claims the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI).

The IMI is calling upon the government to increase the funding available for training in the industry to ensure that there are more mechanics qualified to work on these vehicles.

This latest request from the IMI follows the publication of research conducted on the IMI’s behalf, which found few drivers are considering buying electric vehicles, despite being concerned about air pollution.

Insurers currently charge around 50 per cent more to insure hybrid or electric vehicles partly due to the higher costs involved with repairing them. As a result, drivers claim to be unwilling or unable to pay these extra premiums despite the fact that 40 per cent claim to have serious concerns about the impact of their cars on air pollution levels.

Startlingly, only one per cent of UK mechanics are qualified to work on the high-voltage systems within ultra low emission vehicles, and the vast majority of these are working within franchised dealerships.

Independent dealers and garages could potentially attract hoards of customers if they invest in training mechanics to work on these vehicles, while also investing in increasing their presence on their forecourts and in their showrooms. However, it is vital for dealers and garage owners to update their traders combined insurance to include these investments and changes to stock.

In an attempt to improve the situation, the IMI has asked the government to use some £30 million of the £600 million it has put aside to promote these vehicles, to boost training in the field and end the skills gap. However, discussions on the topic have stalled recently, according to the IMI.

The Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rachael Maskall MP, said she supported the IMI on the topic. She stated: “Members of the public are rightly concerned about air pollution, and many drivers clearly want to do their bit for the environment. But it’s up to the government to make sure the right incentives are there.

“The reality at the moment is that motorists are effectively penalised for choosing greener options. For that to change the government needs to step up and invest more in clean fuel vehicles, as well as the infrastructure and skills needed to support, service and maintain them.”