The rising number of electric vehicles could be hampered by a shortage of EV-certified motor technicians, says the boss of one of the UK’s top warranty suppliers.
Lawrence Whittaker, the chief executive of Warrantywise, says the UK is ‘heading head-first into a skills gap’ as the uptake of EVs continues to soar.
Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that registrations of battery-electric vehicles rose by 154.2 per cent between February 2021 and February 2022.
But there’s still a shortfall in technicians qualified to maintain and service electric vehicles, and Whittaker believes the government should invest to eradicate the ‘ever-widening skills gap’.
He said: ‘The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) agrees and is calling for a £15m funding injection from the government to help address the skills gap.
‘The organisation currently reports that of a total workforce of 238,000 motor technicians in the UK, only 15,500 are IMI Techsafe-registered and qualified to work on EVs.
‘That’s just 6.5 per cent of the UK’s total motor technician workforce.’
He added that the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance, which provides technical backing and training for the electric and hybrid vehicle industry, had just over 180 specialist member garages to help diagnose and fix EV problems and needed another 120 in 2022 alone to keep up with demand.
‘While this year they are on track, with 17 new garages opened already in 2022, by 2025 they will need to open a new EV specialist garage every day to keep up.
‘That is also only based on existing cars which are under warranty, not possible future numbers. For us at Warrantywise, that’s a concern.’
Although EVs have fewer moving parts compared with a traditional combustion-engined vehicle, their complex powertrains and high-voltage battery systems mean technicians need specific training to work on them.
Sales of new petrol and diesel cars are to be banned from 2030, and Whittaker said: ‘With the government looking to entice motorists into swapping to EVs via grants, I’m calling for the same politicians to invest in halting the ever-widening skills gap.
‘This problem isn’t going to go away and it needs to be tackled now, not in 2030,’ said Whittaker.