Ireland's Publication for the refinishing & associated Industries

Hybrids and EVs are changing the way repair workshops think

The ever growing electric and hybrid vehicle market is having a special impact on garages’ work.

Plug-in hybrids and electric cars come with technology with its own characteristics that require specific training for garage professionals, not only for technicians specialised in mechanics, but also for collision repair specialists.

Therefore, mechanics will need basic safety training and an understanding of how components work in this type of vehicle.

In addition, training is needed regarding how to unplug and work with the high voltage parts present in these vehicles. It is also important to know other details like where some of the components of these vehicles are located (inverter, high voltage battery, service disconnection system, AC and all the wiring).

Each vehicle will have its own repairing procedure and it is necessary to know how it works to perform tasks safely. In the same way, car makers offer garage professionals the safety protocols of each specific vehicle with all the necessary information required to perform safe repairs.

In addition to counting on some basic safety and personal protection measures, garage technicians need specific equipment and tools to work with electric components (category III multimetre with 1,000 volt capacity, non-metallic work benches, equipment to move the car in the garage without pushing it etc.).

Removing batteries, which are often located inside an armored casing, integrated to be protected from vibrations and impacts, for example, requires time and specialised attention. On hybrids, switching off the gasoline or diesel engine does not necessarily dislodge the electric battery, which could pose a danger to non-trained technicians.

In the painting stage, electric vehicles also pose challenges, because many of them cannot be cured in a spray booth at temperatures higher than 48.8 degrees celsius the reason for this being the electric battery.

In a typical garage procedure, the high voltage system, for safety reasons, must be disconnected when working with electric vehicles. This turns off the battery refrigeration system, so the battery is susceptible to overheating and damage.

Since electric vehicles cannot be cured with a normal baking cycle in the painting cabin, technicians often use an extended low-bake cycle. Though effective, it doubles the baking time, which significantly slows the overall garage performance. Garages can also use an air-dry or low bake clear coat, in which case, if not using a quality product, could compromise its shine and durability.

The best solution to cure electric vehicles without causing damage or reducing the garage performance is through short wave infrared electric curing technology. This technology directly penetrates into the substrate surface, be it metal, plastic or other material, to heat it and cure the coating from the inside out.