Electromobility: what’s changing for workshops


In the eyes of many experts, vehicles will be battery-powered and autonomous in the future. However, while fully automated cars in our cities are certainly still a long way off, the picture for electromobility is completely different.


Is electromobility inevitable?
The breakthrough of electromobility seems to be unstoppable: by the end of 2018, the global stock of electric cars had risen to 5.6 million. This equates to an increase of 64 percent on the prior year. And in Norway, Stromer achieved a massive market share of 49 percent in 2018! In Germany, too, e-mobility is also gaining momentum: in 2018, a total of around 36,000 new electric cars were registered. The figures look better for hybrid vehicles: in 2018, more than 130,000 hybrid cars were newly registered in Germany. Hybrid and electric cars are thus likely to have achieved a market share of around one percent in Germany.


Electric cars will be “relevant topic” for workshops
Obviously, sales of electric cars are still lagging behind those of conventionally powered vehicles in most countries. Nevertheless, workshops should start thinking about what conclusions they want to draw from the rapid increase in sales figures right now.
Today, most workshop managers are still taking a cautious to critical attitude: according to a survey conducted by the German industry initiative “Quality is Added Value”, around two thirds of respondents fear that more e-mobility will reduce the volume of work in their workshops. At the same time, 75 percent of respondents consider electromobility to be a highly relevant topic for workshops.


Elimination of the mechanical drive train
With their relatively simple drive train, electric cars are known to be much less maintenance-intensive than cars with internal combustion engines. After all, all combustion engine components and the mechanical drive train are eliminated. Electric car pioneer Tesla announced in March 2019 that it wanted to dispense with fixed maintenance cycles. Maintenance should only be carried out when necessary.


Workshops must adapt to electromobility
In a direct comparison with conventionally powered passenger cars, car experts actually expect less work and lower sales for workshops as a result of electromobility. But the losses are likely to be limited.
There are various forecasts for the German market. The German Federation for Motor Trades and Repairs (ZDK), for example, expects a decline in sales of around one percent. Another study estimates that approx. 1.9 to 7.7 percent of jobs in the German after-sales business could be in danger. This would correspond to 0.15 to 0.61 employees per company – a decline that could simply reflect naturally departing employees (such as retired employees).
So much for the bad news. But there is also good news. First of all, it's not too late yet. If workshops do not want to end up left behind, they must, however, act promptly. And they will be compelled to make investments: employees must be trained, the workshop equipment expanded. According to experts, the investment required to create a workshop workplace for repairs to electrified cars with high-voltage technology is within acceptable limits for workshop operations.


Thermal management also plays an important role in electric cars
And if you look at the speed of development in the field of e-mobility, you will see that it is almost impossible to predict which technologies will be used in the future and how complex they will be. It is already clear today that thermal management will play an important role. In addition, workshops can adapt to new tasks – and new sales – for example, checking the power electronics, replacing the dryer cartridge for the battery and, if necessary, replacing coolants in cooling circuits.
Reading tip: it’s worth knowing that you can find helpful tips on working on electric and hybrid vehicles in our special “Thermal management in electric and hybrid vehicles”.