Automotive industry Training | News

With official repair and maintenance qualifications only now emerging as vehicle electrification accelerates in the Australian market, brands that already offer models with high-voltage batteries and drive systems are are supported by internal training to improve technicians.

Although battery electric vehicles (BEVs) accounted for just 1.95% of the Australian new vehicle market (including Tesla which does not report sales figures to the FCAI) last year, that number is expected to increase and sales of hybrid vehicles (HEV) have increased. significantly to represent approximately seven percent of the entire new vehicle market in 2021.

With a myriad of electrified vehicles on the launch pad for 2022 and beyond, take-up of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models is also set to increase, as plans for Australia to become a “hydrogen economy” will generate a market for hydrogen. fuel cell vehicles (FCEV).

GoAuto asked automakers what challenges they anticipate in recruiting – or developing existing staff – based on the growing adoption of hybrid vehicles and the expected proliferation in the number of HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs soon to enter the market. .

A spokesperson for Toyota Australia – the market leader and dominant force in the petrol-electric sector – said the company’s “comprehensive global dealer development programme” ensures that “as new technologies are gradually introduced in the market, technicians receive the appropriate level of training to meet service and repair requirements”.

“We are well positioned to manage the knowledge and skill requirements associated with our growing lineup of electrified vehicles, due to our extensive experience with hybrid vehicles,” the spokesperson said.

“For more than two decades, Toyota Australia and its dealer network have been selling, servicing and repairing critical components for electrified vehicles.”

MG, whose ZS EV was the second best-selling BEV after Tesla’s Model 3 in Australia last year, said: “As a brand experiencing phenomenal growth, there is a concerted focus to ensure that the MG’s service offering – including the development and training of its technician base – matches its sales figures. There is also an emphasis on dual-motor technology for 2022 and beyond, which means MG has to make sure its technicians are ready for the wave of electrification.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) echoed the sentiment of Porsche Australia – its Taycan BEV overtook its iconic 911 sports car in 2021 – saying the biggest challenge was not being able to offer face-to-face training and assessment face to face in a timely manner. manner due to restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To meet business demand last year, we had to use e-learning for some of the training, but face-to-face delivery was essential due to assessment requirements,” an HMCA spokesperson told GoAuto.

“Given the restrictions, we were limited in the amount of training and assessment we could offer.”

Kia Australia, which recently introduced its first autonomous BEV model – the EV6 – to this market, said its dealers “welcome EV products and are committed to our training to ensure the safety of their staff while working with this new technology”.

“The ‘Train the Trainer’ (program) is run by our head office in accordance with the requirements of the vehicle. We incorporate and localize these requirements into our local training along with any applicable rules or laws. »

A spokesperson for BMW Group Australia said the company “has and will continue to emphasize EV training for our dealer network”.

“We see this as a critical element not only to improving the service offering to our customers, but also to improving the skills of people, which has benefits for the industry as a whole as we prepare for the influx of new electrified models,” they told GoAuto.

“One of the key challenges we face is ensuring that our training keeps up with the rapidly changing technological progression in the electric vehicle space.

“Fortunately, we have an exceptional team, local facilities and excellent relationships with our colleagues at our Munich headquarters to ensure that we can…instill a high level of competence in our training programs so that our technicians can only diagnose, service and repair any BMW Group EV.

Volvo Car Australia said its parent company had provided training and development on electrified transmissions and diagnostics as part of its apprentice and technician development programs for several years and had not encountered any specific staffing issues. in this regard.

“Volvo Cars provides a global standard for training and qualifying Volvo technicians to work on its electric vehicles, which is consistently applied by Volvo Car Australia,” a spokesperson told GoAuto.

“We achieve this by integrating this training into various levels of TAFE apprenticeship programs in each state and Volvo Cars technicians and fourth-year apprentices undergo bespoke technical training at Volvo Cars’ new training center in Silverwater. Sidney.

Toyota, Hyundai and BMW were among the local automakers that had consulted PwC over the proposed introduction of a new qualification – Certificate III in Automotive Electric Vehicle Technology (EVT) – in the previous year.

Meanwhile, Hyundai, MG, BMW and Volvo have agreed that, for now, EV servicing and repair will remain a specific area of ​​expertise within the industry’s aftermarket network.

“Volvo Cars has recognized that the technical and safety aspects of working on high voltage systems require well-defined development and qualification pathways, whether or not provided through higher education in each state,” added the Volvo Car Australia spokesperson. .

“Upgrading existing technicians between ICE and electric vehicles is just as important as developing the next generations of technicians.”

BMW Group Australia said working on a BMW HV system requires a certified high voltage technician specific to the generation of the system. However, general maintenance and repair work could be carried out by technicians who have undergone HV induction training.

“It is and will remain a specialized field, but as the electric vehicle industry evolves and grows, so will the training and number of professionals in the field,” the spokesperson added.

That said, with a view to the future of the industry, there were benefits to technicians learning to work on ICE and EV vehicles in the early stages of their training…

“As the volume of electrified vehicles in operation increases, it is important that students (and experienced technicians) can access the required expertise (including formal courses and on-the-job training) to update update their knowledge. We are also developing ICE vehicles that can run on biofuels as well as hydrogen produced from renewable energy,” Toyota Australia said.

Finally, the companies cited in this article described their immediate goals in terms of developing technicians to service and repair electric vehicles within their dealership networks.

As with Toyota Australia, Mercedes-Benz Australia said its HV training is growing year on year to incorporate new electric vehicles as they are introduced to the market.

“Technicians can access training at our Sydney and Melbourne facilities and on-site elsewhere in Australia and New Zealand. The HT modules we supply are centrally supported by our head office and delivered consistently across all markets. This support has included providing a wide range of tools and resources directly from the factory, including special test equipment and necessary PPE,” the spokesperson said.

MG Motor Australia and NZ said the brand’s focus on the future of electrification centered on increased investment in technical training in general and the development of electric vehicles in particular.

The brand will soon open a technical training center in Parramatta, which “will enable the company to engage key dealer service personnel and provide the most up-to-date training in the market,” it says.

“Volvo will continue to provide ongoing training and development. Our new training center in Sydney provides our dealer network with a center of excellence for all of their sales and service personnel. This facility is complete through extensive training at dealerships around Volvo Cars’ new VPS – Volvo Personal Service,” said the Volvo Car Australia spokesperson.

BMW Group Australia was on track to have 100% of its dealership network staffed with certified high voltage technicians and would continue to evolve and improve its offering as technology develops. “The training and certification of HV technicians will continue to play a vital role in 2022 and beyond,” the company spokesperson added.

HMCA, meanwhile, would ensure that all of its customer-facing staff are equipped with sufficient knowledge of hybrid electric, PHEV, EV and fuel cell vehicles “to respond to customer questions or concerns in a professional manner. ” and confidently “explain the basic features and benefits” of these vehicles.

The company’s goal was also to “ensure that all technical personnel will be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform maintenance, service, diagnostics and repair procedures in a safe and efficient manner”, said the spokesperson.

HMCA said it will continue to offer a range of training and assessment initiatives to support its franchise dealers, such as webinars for all frontline staff and hybrid, PHEV, EV, FCEV ( including those who will perform maintenance, diagnostics and repair), as well as “face-to-face training and assessment for all technicians who will perform the full range of maintenance, repair and diagnostics, including power off and initialization”.

Kia Australia, which will offer its EV6 through its entire dealer network, as well as the new small SUV Niro (in hybrid, PHEV and BEV form), said: “We have regular trainings which we offer to our dealers to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and skills to work on our vehicles.

The Road to Recovery Podcast Series