IMI on emission

by Steve Nash
03 Sep 2018
IMI on emission

The Department for Transport (DfT) recently published a paper entitled ‘Reducing emissions from road transport: The Road to Zero Strategy’. I am delighted to report that this document includes a commitment to “work with the Institute of the Motor Industry to ensure the UK’s workforce of mechanics are well trained and have the skills they need to repair these vehicles safely, delivering for consumers.” It also contains the critical statement: “We are reviewing whether current regulations are sufficient to protect mechanics working on electric and hybrid vehicles. We are working with the Institute of the Motor Industry to ensure the UK’s workforce of mechanics are well trained and have the skills they need to repair these vehicles safely.”

This marks a significant milestone in the IMI’s lobbying campaign to achieve the regulation of those working with the high voltage systems of electrified vehicles, and we have already begun working with the DfT’s advisers to establish what the delivery of these commitments will look like.

Of course, the implications of working with the new and emerging technologies go beyond just electrification. The combination of electrified powertrains with autonomous systems – including advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) – and ever increasing levels of connectivity, means that a wide range of new skills and capabilities will be required to look after the vehicles we will be seeing in the near future.

Whether battery-powered plug-in vehicles or hydrogen fuel cells will reign supreme in 10 years’ time is a matter of opinion and only time will tell. But there seems little doubt now that electrified vehicles are the future.

Research shows that, over time, the demand for EVs and PHEVs will become less regulation led and more demand led, with the next generation of drivers saying they expect to be driving electrified vehicles. This will be helped by cost efficiencies. Currently the cost of a full EV battery pack alone is up to five times the cost of an internal combustion engine (ICE) and represents more than 50% of the real vehicle value; but this cost is coming down rapidly, while the efficiency of the batteries is increasing and cheaper alternatives – such as sodium-ion in place of lithium and copper – are under development.

Greater connectivity and more integrated transport solutions will also have an impact. An EV with a real world range of 100 miles would satisfy 98% of driving needs for most people, whereas a 200+ mile battery pack adds at least £10k to the cost. So for many the best solution would be to take the cheaper vehicle and use connected and shared transport solutions for longer journeys. In these circumstances it makes more sense to realise efficiency improvements through cheaper, lighter and more compact batteries than to simply concentrate on range alone (starting on page 45, Tech Talk contains a 'Road to Zero – The Technology' special in which battery technology is explored).

At the current rate it will take around 15 years for the car parc to change profoundly, and so it may not be practical or necessary for every technician to be qualified to work with these electric and hybrid technologies in the short to medium term. However, it is envisaged that anybody who does is likely to have to meet a regulatory standard. Failure to meet this standard would not just breach regulations but, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), would render the employer’s liability insurance invalid too!

Whichever way you look at it, the impact on our future skills requirements will be significant and I am delighted that our lobbying of the government has put us in a prime position to influence the policies which will drive and support the development of an appropriately skilled workforce.

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