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EVs Head for Junkyard as Mechanic Shortage Inflates Repair Costs

Electric car sales already are in a funk in key markets around the globe. Challenges finding enough repair technicians threatens to further stifle demand in the U.K., where consumer uptake has stagnated for the better part of two years.

A dearth of mechanics trained to handle the most advanced EV fixes is helping to drive up repair costs, according to insurers and repair companies like the AA, which provides roadside assistance across the U.K. Add in expenses like long wait times for replacement parts, and underwriters are opting to total cars with relatively benign damage — prematurely consigning electric models to the junk heap.

A seemingly simple crash that damages the battery or the compartment housing it “can cause a complete write-off of the vehicle,” said Marco Distefano, managing director of insurer Axa SA’s U.K. retail division. “Ultimately, that pushes up the price of insurance.”

Fewer than 10% of the U.K.’s 236,000 auto mechanics are qualified to work directly on EV batteries or their cases, according to the Institute of the Motor Industry, which provides training and certification. While many technicians can perform less-demanding tasks, the most challenging repairs require extra training, given the complexity of the circuits and risk of electrocution.

“The ante is risen quite a lot because you are dealing with no mistakes really,” Darren Naughton, an AA trainer, said during a visit in Birmingham. “It’s instant death on these systems.”

Drivers are also concerned that a collision is more likely to lead to an EV writeoff, according to U.K. consultants Thatcham Research. Long lead-times for deliveries and a shortage of functioning charge points are also holding back demand for the environmentally friendly vehicles, it said in a report last year.

With 1 million EVs on the roads already, the crunch is forecast to get worse. Repair shops are starting to train up staff, but the U.K. will still be short by about 30,000 qualified technicians by 2035, when a ban on the sale of new combustion vehicles takes effect, according to IMI estimates.

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Japan Times

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