Mechanics across the UK have warned that electric vehicles will put them out of business – while the rich automakers make money and customers pay the price.
Mechanics have criticized the government’s plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, saying it would decimate independent repairers due to a lack of specialized equipment and training to work on electric cars.
Currently, less than one in five mechanics is trained to work on electric vehicles and many cannot afford retraining.
Some claim that manufacturers even refuse to share vital data about repairing new cars, putting them out of business and leaving customers with no choice but to turn to expensive dealerships.
Bilal Khan, who has been a mechanic for 14 years, told The Sun on Sunday: “I was thinking about doing an apprenticeship in 2018 and it cost around £8,000.
“I have two staff working for me so it would cost more than £20,000 to qualify everyone.
“Not only is the staff training outrageous, you also need specialized equipment that is insanely expensive.
“You can’t put an electric car on a normal ramp, you need a special elevator.
“You must have insulated tools as there is a risk of electrocution, which is dangerous. There is a bigger security issue.
“You also need more space because an electric car is a major fire hazard. The costs are exponential.
“The general public will also suffer. Electric vehicles require less maintenance than petrol or diesel cars, but when they break down, they are very expensive to repair.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to move. There are also hardly any charging stations.
“Unless you want to get a really expensive car like a Tesla and drive a long distance like Glasgow to London, you’re not going to make it.”
Bilal, 33, owner of Billy’s Auto & Body Shop in Newcastle upon Tyne, added: “If I were to speak to a politician I would say, ‘Before you push the green agenda, make sure the infrastructure is in place’ .”
Shocking statistics from IMI, the automotive industry institute, show that just 18 per cent of UK mechanics – 42,400 – are trained to work on electric vehicles.
The organization estimates that the country will need an additional 107,000 skilled technicians by 2030 to meet rising demand.
Eric Smith, 48, who works at Almondbury Garage in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, started his apprenticeship 30 years ago and is scared of the future.
He told The Sun on Sunday: “Many independent garages will close. I bet by 2030 half of them will be closed.
“I hope there is a turnaround. It’s stupid. Mechanics will retire early or give up the job.
“To work on electric cars, you need degrees. The guys who are good with their hands don’t get a glimpse.
“Customers will be forced to go back to the main dealer and they will be able to ask for whatever they want as they are the only ones who can fix it.”
“Even if small dealers learn how to work on the cars, they are all under warranty, so customers will be afraid to come to us if their warranty expires.
“These companies don’t even share the blueprints or dates for repairing these cars.
“I’ve seen the transition from petrol to diesel to hybrid, but nothing has rocked the industry quite like the transition to electric.”
Hayley Pells, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at IMI, said: “MOT data shows that more electric vehicles have failed their MOT than internal combustion engine cars, but they failed the tyres.”
“Technicians who don’t have EV training can still work on the cars and change tires, but still need basic hazard training to protect personnel.”
Larger companies like Halfords Autocentres have the opportunity to train mechanics.
Andy Turbefield, the company’s quality manager, said: “We train our mechanics to the relevant electric vehicle standard and enable them to use electric cars.”
“In the independent industry and in independent workshops, this is not necessarily always the case.
“Independent owners may not always be able to invest in this training, so these mechanics may be left behind or have to pay for their training themselves.
“It’s also about training existing colleagues. Technicians are getting older and the older they get, the less attractive the training is.
“It’s not stable”
“Unfortunately, there will be some losers and those will be the ones who choose not to invest and choose not to train.
“Combustion engines will still be on the road for 10 to 20 years and we still need skilled workers to work on them.
“It is a big challenge to find 100,000 technicians. It will be a tall order, but it is not impossible.
“It’s about transitioning with your customer base. We have to do this for the benefit of the consumer.”
Peter Johnson says that at just 40 he will be one of those forced to retire if the green initiative is implemented.
The owner of Hayes Auto in Hayes, Middlesex said: “It’s not feasible for us. It will no doubt decimate local workshops.
“I was an engineer by training and gave that up for my love of cars, but now I’m like, ‘Why did I do that?'”
“I would have to retrain to become an electrician and I have no interest in that. Nobody cares.
“If there are changes, I will give up my job. When I started being a mechanic was a job for life, but now it’s not a permanent job.
“To work on electric cars, I would have to order new equipment.
“I just spent £10,000 upgrading my MOT kit last year – and it will soon be redundant.”
Some in the industry are calling on the government to provide grants for mechanics to learn new skills.
A report released in December by think tank The Social Market Foundation indicated that many mechanics receive informal on-the-job training, which would be inappropriate or dangerous with high-voltage electric vehicles.
Stuart James of the Independent Garage Association said the government “needs to help the sector fill the shortage of skilled technicians and invest in infrastructure”.
Tory MP Craig Mackinlay has been vocal about the government’s plan to ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030.
Concerns have also been raised about the ethics of importing electric vehicles from China.
He told The Sun on Sunday: “The rushed transition to electric vehicles is likely to leave many auto industry workers behind.”
“They don’t understand why they should retrain late in their careers to support a product riddled with child labor concerns and terrifying consumers.”