Through ongoing discussions with our clients, we are seeing the reality of many either switching, or considering switching, all or parts of their fleets to utilise electric vehicles (EVs), moving away from more traditional Internal Combustion Engined (ICE) vehicles.
Although technology continues to develop, fleets are now accepting they need to change their operations to suit the vehicle specifications currently available.
As a key measure of a business’ capabilities going forward, more emphasis on meeting corporate social responsibilities (CSR) and environmental commitments, utilising zero emission vehicles is a positive step towards meeting these objectives.
Additionally, new operational key performance indicators (KPI’s) for fleets need to be defined to reflect the use of EVs. Comparing new KPI’s with the previous use of ICE vehicles may provide limited relevance as an “apples for apples” comparison is no longer possible.
To some degree the operational availability of the present generation of EVs, (considering cars and light commercial vehicles when used in a commercial context), is unknown, as we embrace this new technology and gain operational experience.
As part of our ongoing research to enable us to deliver insight, we have discussed the current environment in relation to the repair of EVs with vehicle dealerships and repairers, including a main dealer representing one of the largest global motor vehicle manufacturers.
In discussion with the main dealership we asked some key questions and following is a review of responses including our thoughts, from a risk-based perspective.
Currently no, but it is expected that numbers will increase significantly in 2021 as EV usage progresses further, embedding this type of vehicle in commercial fleets and company car drivers.
The previous low levels could be due to the demographics of the type of driver who has previously decided to use an EV – this type of driver could have been low risk. This could now change with more drivers of differing risk profiles now able to use an EV for at work activities.
Yes. Any repair work on an EV is made more challenging by safety considerations associated with the vehicles battery pack and electrical system; the major consideration is a process of safe isolation and deactivation of the battery pack.
Vehicle manufacturers are investing heavily, in conjunction with main dealerships, in providing centres of excellence for repairs to EVs and this network will continue to grow.
Most manufacturer supported dealerships have, or will have, the technicians and diagnostic equipment capable of safely undertaking a repair.
This could present the concern that a repair undertaken by an independent repairer needs to be fully verified and details of the repair undertaken should form part of the vehicles service history, providing vital data for future repairs which could relate to safety systems.
We have considered the safety of battery packs on vehicles in previous insight.
Technicians are being retrained and are receiving accreditations to work on EVs as specialists however accreditation can take 9 to 12 months to obtain.
It’s possible but there are processes in place and skill levels should be in place to meet demand.
Manufacturers are investing in training and the independent vehicle repair sector will also need to invest similarly.
Currently for general planned maintenance no, but for unplanned maintenance or accident damage, yes due to:
Additionally, it is quite likely that a vehicle presented for a minor repair may require updates to software to be installed and tested as updates to vehicle software are also becoming available at a high rate.
Presently some vehicle manufacturers are challenged in this area resulting in additional time and cost to transfer vehicles to appropriate facilities which in themselves are running at capacity resulting in a longer wait for work to commence on a given vehicle thus increasing the period of unavailability of the vehicle and subsequently increases in vehicle hire costs.
The time needed to undertake minor repairs regardless of vehicle type is increasing due to the checks that have to be undertaken. Fault finding and diagnostics can be prolonged due to the greater number of tests and complexities of systems on a modern vehicle.
The days of quickly visiting a repairer and having a defect rectified whilst the driver waits may now not be possible as in every case the vehicle will need to be hooked up to a diagnostic system.
This could result in more vehicles being needed in a fleet to cover operations. It is unlikely that manufacturers’ representatives will have more curtesy vehicles available.
Dealerships again by virtue of the volume of EVs seen to date, currently have limited experience of this, but their perception is yes as the salvage industry associated with battery packs is currently evolving.
At some point in the life of the vehicle this additional cost will need to be recovered, possibly seen as a factor affecting the residual value of the vehicle.
Some issues have been experienced with corrosion of components causing unexpected data being presented to control systems requiring prolonged diagnosis.
Problems have also been experienced when unauthorised repairs such as windscreen replacements have been undertaken which can present issues with sensing systems.
The importance of verification of calibration of ADAS systems was covered in our previous paper.
There are still some unknowns in the operation of EVs particularly if major repairs are undertaken and we conclude the following:
Therefore, operators of EVs will need to consider if
When considering the introduction EVs into a fleet, Willis Towers Watson can provide risk support - please contact your account owner or Andrew Millinship for more information.