As the ownership of hybrid and electric vehicles continues to increase, the need for knowledge of how to repair and maintain these vehicles is also on the rise. For all those who work in the repair or roadside recovery business, this knowledge is going to come in very handy as they begin to come across more of these vehicles.
Understanding the processes involved in working with these vehicles is important for safety reasons. There are different hazards and the need to use different equipment to work on them. The voltages present in electric and hybrid vehicles is much higher than that found in traditional cars, 650 direct volts as opposed to 12/24 volts. Direct contact with just 110 volts dc can prove fatal.
Harmful chemicals can be released from the battery systems and due the high content of energy contained inside the battery, could explode if not handled correctly. Each electric and hybrid will differ depending on manufacturer and that will also affect processes to work safely.
These use a large battery with an electric motor which drives the vehicle. An electricity supply is required to charge the battery when not in use. If you’ve had an electric vehicle for a few years now, you’ll be looking for a garage that offers a Gloucester MOT.
These normally have a double source of energy – a battery and a diesel or petrol internal combustion engine. They can use these individual systems simultaneously and automatically. The battery is charged through vehicle braking and the internal combustion engine. A hybrid with a plug-in system can also be charged from an electricity supply.
What are the risks?
In addition to the usual hazards and risks associated with vehicle recovery and maintenance, there are other factors to be considered when dealing with electric and hybrid vehicles. These include:
- Having high voltage cabling and components in the workplace which could be capable of delivering an electric shock.
- Batteries that store large amounts of energy causing a potential fire or explosion hazard.
- Components that could still hold a dangerous level of voltage even when turned off.
- The vehicle or any electric motors could move suddenly down to magnetic forces inside the motors.
- Normal manual handling risks associated with replacement of batteries.
- Explosive gases and hazardous liquids could be released if a battery gets damaged or modified in any way.
Working safely with electric and hybrid vehicles
Anyone working with these vehicles should receive the proper training to develop the right skills to work safely with such vehicles. The level of skills involved will depend greatly on the job requirements. A basic awareness is probably all that’s needed for those in sales and valeting for example. Those engaged in repairs and maintenance however will require a much greater depth of knowledge. Specific qualifications available include the IMI Awards.