A shock to the system and how to avoid it

EVs and hybrids represent a real opportunity, but training is vital for businesses looking to stake their claim on the future

Published:  24 April, 2018

Hybrid and electric vehicles (H/EVs) are an ever-day reality, and are becoming more popular with drivers and carmakers.
“Electrified powertrains are emerging as manufacturers’ preferred means of meeting stringent future emissions legislation,“ says Jonathan Levett, technical trainer for Delphi Technologies Aftermarket.

At the same time, early hybrid and electric vehicles are transitioning into the aftermarket and out of dealer servicing networks. Just like traditional internal combustion engine (ICE)  powered vehicles, H/EVs must adhere to strict servicing schedules and undergo timely, efficient repairs.

“This represents an enormous business opportunity for the aftermarket, “ comments Jonathan,” but the industry is in for a shock if it does not prepare its professionals for the potentially deadly nuances of H/EV powertrains.

“A lack of understanding on the common dangers of handling high voltage systems can have devastating ramifications for H/EV owners and service professionals. Fortunately Delphi Technologies Aftermarket provides a range of training options suitable for personnel working with H/EV technologies.”

Massive opportunity Understanding the basic dangers posed by working on electrified powertrains and the processes required to overcome these can offer service personnel
the confidence required to tackle them safely.

“We have seen garages sidestep working on these vehicles, “ laments Jonathan, “which is a massive opportunity missed. The technology is becoming commonplace and these vehicles are in the aftermarket – the first Prius is now over two decades old!
“Servicing and repair of H/EVs requires a different mindset as you are working with extremely high voltages. Understanding the dangers and best practice protocols offers an inherent safety net that reduces risk, and which is backed up by provision of correct PPE. Traditional PPE is essential but complemented by CAT 0 1000V-rated insulated gloves and either insulated boots or matting
to protect against electrocution. Systematic maintenance of equipment is even more vital
when working in a high-voltage service environment.“

Safety advantage
“Knowledge provides the greatest safety advantage,” continues Jonathan. “Basics, for instance, such as never working on live voltage systems where you feel inadequately qualified, never assuming that a live circuit is discharged and recognising that orange cabling normally signifies voltage levels in excess of 60V – unless proven otherwise. Delphi Technologies offer a wide range of training that has been developed to provide the aftermarket with everything from an introduction to electrified technology to advanced best practice when handling a variety of latest-generation H/EVs.

“Physical and environmental threats can come from H/EVs in the form of electrocution, arc flash, arc blast, fire, magnetism, corrosion or contamination. It is clear that advanced training is not only a vital business opportunity for the aftermarket, it’s a common sense next-step for any workforce likely to come into contact with H/EVs.”  

Potential
Delphi Technologies’ training evolves to reflect the rapidly changing H/EV architecture, such as the company’s latest 48V mild hybrid technology. “The number of service professionals attending our H/EV training suggests that the aftermarket is opening its eyes to the potential of this emerging technology,” says Jonathan. “The flexible courses, such as the Hybrid Technology Components & Operation course, which has been developed using our own industry knowledge, are regularly attended by senior trainers from garage groups – seeking latest guidelines and best practice to pass on to their own technicians.”

Courses provide theory and practical hands-on learning through the dismantling and repair of vehicles such as the Prius. “Familiarity nurtures confidence in being able to work on these vehicles safely and efficiently,” concludes Jonathan.  

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  • Electric future shock  

    The need to adapt to changing vehicle technology is one of the main challenges of our time in the sector. Increasing connectivity and a vastly more complicated conventional vehicle provide a whole raft of obstacles on their own, before you even get to the rise of electric vehicles and hybrids.

    Add to that a more uncertain legislative environment resulting from rules not quite keeping up with the technology coming in, and you’ve got yourself a whole host of issues that the entire industry needs to stay on top of if it is going to continue to offer a sterling service to customers.

    Let’s look at electric vehicles. For Tom Harrison Lord from Fox Agency, the b2b marketing company specialising in the automotive sector,  Automechanika Birmingham offered a troubling glimpse into the future:  “This summer’s Automechanika Birmingham was entertaining and enjoyable as ever, but it also exemplified a worrying trend in the motor industry today. With the advancement of electric vehicles, there are going to be some rapid and stark changes ahead. The automotive aftermarket, however, seems to be burying its head in the sand.”


    Access
    The key, as it has been in the past, is access. In this case, the right to be able to repair vehicles. Think that’s all sorted? Perhaps not:  “The rise of the electric cars and vehicles is something that could hit the automotive aftermarket hard – in particular, independent garages.

    “Many, if not all, electric vehicles invalidate their manufacturer warranty if essential work is carried out on the electrical systems by someone other than the main dealer. What’s more, many cars with batteries, such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, have warranties on the electrical components lasting up to ten years.

    “Having no choice but to use the main dealer for a full decade shows just why independent workshops will have fewer vehicles coming through the doors in the years ahead.”

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