A SWINDON motor dealer urged motorists not to be put off from making their next car an electric one after hearing concerns about a lack of trained technicians which could service them.

The Institute of the Motor Industry warned of a potential shortfall of 35,700 qualified automotive technicians with the skills to service and maintain electric vehicles by 2030 – the year the government has pledged to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

The institute’s CEO Steve Nash said: “As of 2020, there were 15,400 qualified TechSafe technicians in the UK. That number represents just 6.5 percent of the UK automotive sector and was already giving us cause for concern.

“The pace of EV adoption is accelerating, even while the issues around infrastructure remain a barrier. Once the charging network is fit for purpose, combined with electric vehicles becoming more financially accessible, the next big challenge will be how to ensure we have a workforce qualified to provide the essential servicing, maintenance and repair to keep these vehicles safe on the roads. 

“That’s where we believe government attention and funds should be focused now.”

But the managing director of Hyundai and Suzuki dealership Pebley Beach, Dominic Threlfall, said drivers can be confident that EV owners can get still get their motors maintained and serviced.

He said: “Franchised dealers like us have the training and the staff in place. Because of the growing number of EVs that will be coming through our workshop it’s worth us investing in specialist equipment and staff training.

“Independent garages might not feel the same urgency – so it might be that motorists who are used to taking their car to an independent garage will find themselves using a franchised dealer instead.

“EVs are basically computers on wheels. Increasingly, your car won’t be something you can tinker with in your own garage anymore.”

In 2019, Pebley Beach became the first motor dealer within 50km of Swindon to be accredited by the Electric Vehicle Approved scheme. It is still one of only two EVA accredited motor dealers in the town.

To win accreditation, dealerships must be vetted by independent auditors against a set of standards for electric vehicle retail and after-sales that have been established by the National Franchised Dealers Association.

Accreditation means sales staff are trained to advise motorists on the purchases while technicians are qualified to work on electric vehicles.

Most EVs operate at 650 volts, while anything above 150 volts is considered hazardous to mechanics and 650 volts can be fatal, so insulated tools and equipment is considered essential.