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#1623180 - 21/07/2018 09:39 Working on EVs
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16229
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
The risks of working on Electric Vehicles (including hybrids) has become a bit of a hot topic recently in the mechanical and bodywork repair industry.

Stories - possibly apocryphal - of injuries sustained by people repairing such cars are appearing and the industry is reacting.

We have now been told that we have to complete an IMI approved training course (at a cost per person of £350 + VAT) or we will not be permitted to work on EVs.

This seems a sensible precaution - even if the information on the HSE website seems entirely sufficient and mostly obvious.

However - and this is the bit that bothers me - we are also being asked to purchase "essential" safety equipment specific to EVs at a cost of £750 + VAT or we won't be permitted to work on them.

What might this equipment consist of?

Clearly, the number and complexity of EV's is rising and we have repaired a dozen or so in the last 18 months without incident.

I'm a little concerned that we might be having our pants pulled down...


#1623183 - 21/07/2018 11:50 Re: Working on EVs [Re: Jim_Clennell]
JKD Offline
Forum is my job

Registered: 20/09/2008
Posts: 4395
There appear to be two options here Jim...

A) You let your pants get pulled down but then you get to work on EVs.

B) You don't let your pants get pulled down but then you don't get to work on EVs.

What's more important to you? Your pants or getting to work on EVs, which seem to be rising as you've said yourself, and so one would hope you would make your money back quite soon.

Also, have you heard this? I've not had a chance to properly listen to it myself, but it and the website as a whole seems relevant to your business, so you may have already done so.

#1623185 - 21/07/2018 11:56 Re: Working on EVs [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Nigel Offline
Club member 123
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16896
Loc: Staffordshire
Pay the costs and then charge (sorry) a premium for working on EVs due to the extra kit required

#1623187 - 21/07/2018 13:20 Re: Working on EVs [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16229
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
Thanks, gents. Useful linkage there JKD; although we don't do PDR ourselves, we work with specialists that do. Generally, these would pose a far greater risk of issues with EVs because they a) work with big metal rods and b) stick them inside car body panels where high voltage cables could be lurking.
Our biggest risk is using a welding tip dent puller, but as most EVs use aluminium or plastic panels - at least for the ones we usually work on like bumpers, even this is pretty unlikely.
I suspect the protective safety equipment will be rubber gloves and wellies.


#1623446 - 30/07/2018 14:52 Re: Working on EVs [Re: Jim_Clennell]
JKD Offline
Forum is my job

Registered: 20/09/2008
Posts: 4395
Thought you might be interested to read this Jim...

Are Emergency Services Unprepared To Handle Electric Cars?

#1623461 - 31/07/2018 07:14 Re: Working on EVs [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16229
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
Thanks JKD, it's more or less what is driving the push for us to get trained (that and nervous insurance companies). We're happy to pay for the training, just a little dubious about the "essential safety equipment".


#1623852 - 12/08/2018 16:58 Re: Working on EVs [Re: Jim_Clennell]
Jim_Clennell Offline
Club member 105
Forum veteran

Registered: 16/12/2005
Posts: 16229
Loc: Corridor of Uncertainty
Right, so it seems as though there is slightly more peril to working on electric/hybrid vehicles than I anticipated. Allowing for the fact that there may be a bit of scaremongering in the mix, there actually are some fairly serious risks, including both DC and AC current, arcing, explosion and chemical spillages.

The two biggest problems are 1) knowing where the high voltage elements (including cables) are located and 2) powering the vehicle down.

The problem with 1 is that no two EVs are the same and the problem with 2 is that no two EVs are the same.

Some vehicles (eg. the Renault Zoe) have the charging point at the front, with high voltage cabling running around the front bumper (one of the main areas we work on), some vehicles have the charging point in a location to the conventional refuelling flap and others have them on the rear. The cables run from the charging point to the batteries (which can be *highly* explosive and shouldn't be exposed to temperatures over 60 C) and from the batteries to the drive unit or units. There is also the question of energy recovery on some vehicles, which adds to the potential for risky cables leading back to the batteries.
Apocryphal stories abound, but in addition to the one above about the PDR tech, we were also told about a youth who wanted to fit neons under his Prius and - in his ignorance - tapped into an orange (HV) cable to power them.
To illustrate the bafflingly casual attitude to safety among manufacturers, attendees on the course were invited to feel inside the plastic sills of the trainer's Peugeot to find - you guessed it - the orange high voltage cables held in place with cable ties.

The only way to be sure where the cables and other elements are located, is to source from Thatcham the "methods" that apply to each version/model/model year of each hybrid or EV. These reveal the location of various elements and routing of cables. Manufacturers, we were told, are unable or unwilling to provide these, for reasons best known to themselves.

The procedure is then to shut the vehicle down. This is something that an EV owner will rarely if ever do; it can be a complex procedure, often involving dismantling assemblies - with some delicate, breakable clips, etc., and physically removing some components, waiting for super capacitors to discharge and repeated, careful testing. It can take 2 hours to power a vehicle down fully. And the keys must be kept at a significant distance, as they can cause the car to power up remotely and without warning.

Once this has been done, the vehicle can safely be worked on (whilst still avoiding putting heat into sensitive areas).

Powering up, as Haynes might say (except that there are no Haynes manuals for this), is the reverse of powering down. However, sometimes this can be complicated and if carried out incorrectly, you can effectively "brick" your customer's £20k+ electric vehicle like a duff mobile phone.

All of this raises some issues:
- an extra 2 hours added to a repair could easily push it into a 2 day job - the EV owner is going to be looking at (yet another) premium.
- what owner is going to entrust their pride and joy to someone who is going to carry out a complex technical procedure that could kill their car just to fix a bumper scuff?
- how happy are our insurers going to be to hear about all this?

But, to me, the most important point is this: If we believe what we are being told, surely manufacturers must do a lot more to improve safe access to vehicles for the purposes of service/maintenance and emergency access (as per JKD's article above.

I cannot see why they should not be legally obliged to fit a shut down switch somewhere on the vehicle that allows the EV to be safely and reversibly shut down. Why is this not already happening?

Oh, and the safety equipment?

An arc shield mask, special 1000V gloves, a set of fully insulated tools for removing and refitting parts, an industrial multi-tester and a bunch of plastic chain and posts to put around the vehicle to keep others away.
A grand's worth? I'm not sure.

However, I think we may well go for it, because unless something happens (like a spate of fatalities, etc), there will be more and more EVs and hybrids on our roads. And now that I know a bit more about them, I won't be working on them until I'm sure they are safe.

NB: I should say that I am aware that many similar caveats could be levelled at internal combustion engines and their highly volatile fuel and potentially lethal electrics.


#1623887 - 12/08/2018 21:17 Re: Working on EVs [Re: Jim_Clennell]
barnacle Offline
Club Member 18 - Membership Secretary
Forum Demigod

Registered: 17/12/2005
Posts: 31807
Loc: Hemel in the Hempstead
I wonder if it's worth a word with your local fire brigade regarding their policies/procedures regarding EVs?

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