ULEZ Sparks a Surge in EV Maintenance Demand, Are Repairers Ready?

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London has been instrumental in reducing air pollution and encouraging cleaner forms of transportation. And now, with its expansion, the impact on independent garages and end consumers is undeniable.

For garages, the ULEZ expansion brings forth a new wave of opportunities and challenges. As the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) increases, garages will have to adapt and cater to this growing market. With more consumers opting for EVs to avoid emission charges and restrictions, garages will see a surge in the need for EV-related repairs, maintenance, and servicing. To meet this demand, it will be essential for garages to invest in specialised equipment and training to effectively service EVs. This presents an opportunity for garages to diversify their offerings and tap into the expanding market of EV owners.

Whilst workshops see an influx of EV repairs, they will also have to consider and put in place safe working practices. Tony Gill, Customer Support Manager, Opus IVS explains “We do provide garages with step-by-step guidance on EV repairs via our IVS 360 TM live diagnostic repair service. However, we recognise the risks associated with repairing and maintaining electric and hybrid electric vehicles, and so only provide technical support on these vehicles to technicians who have completed the appropriate training.”

To safely provide technicians with remote assistance on electric vehicles Opus IVS ask that IVS 360 TM
users have had the same level of electric vehicle training as their own technicians. Having an IMI Level 2, 3, or 4 award in electric vehicle repair (or equivalent) means they can continue to support users safely and efficiently when working on electric vehicles.

With the emission charges and restrictions becoming more stringent, owning a non-compliant vehicle within the expanded ULEZ zone may result in heavy financial implications. As a result, consumers will be more incentivised to purchase EVs as an alternative. The expansion of the ULEZ zone serves as a strong motivation for individuals to embrace cleaner forms of transportation, ensuring a more sustainable future.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the transition to EVs may not be an easy one for some consumers. Concerns such as range anxiety, access to charging infrastructure, and the higher initial cost of EVs need to be addressed. The government and various organisations have been working tirelessly to address these concerns and promote the adoption of EVs. By providing financial incentives, expanding charging infrastructure, and offering grants, they aim to make the transition to EVs more accessible and appealing.

Technicians working on EVs need to possess specialised tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their safety during maintenance and repair tasks. Due to the unique electrical system of EVs, mechanics require specific diagnostic and repair tools that are designed to handle high voltages and complex electronic components. These tools enable mechanics to accurately diagnose and fix issues, ensuring the safety and performance of the EV. Additionally, working on EVs poses certain risks related to electricity and battery systems, making it crucial for mechanics to wear appropriate PPE such as insulated gloves, safety glasses, and arc flash-resistant clothing. “By equipping themselves with the necessary tools and PPE, mechanics can work with confidence and ensure the safety of both themselves and the EVs they service.” Says Tony.

Garages do not require any special insurances however, under the Electricity at Work Regulation 1989 it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure employees have the necessary training and knowledge to work on electrical equipment on vehicles if this equipment may give rise to danger. “If a garage is seeing a rise is demand and as a result is looking to open its doors to electric vehicles, I would recommend they check out joining HEVRA – the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance. They can provide information on EV component repair which keeps more work in independent garages and provides affordable EV repairs to car owners.” Explains Tony

HEVRA (Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance) represents close to 300 Hybrid and Electric vehicle repairers in the UK and Ireland. These repairers carry out general servicing on these vehicles and up to and including diagnosing and repairing of High Voltage (HV) components including HV batteries. HEVRA also carry out Research and Development to continually support their network.

HEVRA estimates that the number of service and repair outlets required to support the growing EV car parc by 2030, would need to increase by circa 800 additional approved repairers between 2023 and 2026. Clearly, this is a significant increase compared to current numbers, however, if the network continues to follow the current trend, this is achievable.

Tony Gill concludes, “Opus IVS fully endorses the IMI TechSafe campaign to ensure independent garages meet the growing demand for electric vehicle maintenance and repair. This essential campaign is bringing automotive workshops together to ensure that technicians are appropriately trained to service, maintain, and repair electric vehicles safely. We highly recommend that technicians and garage owners check out the IMI Techsafe details and ensure that they are ready for even further growth with EV repair works.”

The ULEZ expansion in London will have a significant impact on independent garages and end consumers alike. Workshops will need to adapt to the growing demand for EV-related services, while consumers will be motivated to embrace EVs to avoid emission charges and restrictions. With a proactive approach and the right support, this transition can not only create lucrative opportunities for workshops but also contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

And now, with the petrol and Diesel ban delayed to 2035, this may give independent garages more time and opportunity to develop knowledge and safe working practices to be able to manage the level of EV repairs due to come.

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