We recently wrote about the state of the EV market in 2023 – in short, each year electric vehicles make up a larger and larger percentage of total new car sales. While we have a long way to go before we can expect a mass adoption of these cars, it’s imperative that automotive training programs start preparing technicians with EV-specific skills and certifications.
Fortunately, it won’t be a total overhaul for technical training programs, for two key reasons:
It’s a question being argued globally as the outlook seems to sway one way, then the other. The real question that should concern technical education is: what’s the timeline?
In 2021, six major automakers (Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and BYD) and 30 national governments signed a pledge to stop the sale of new gas and diesel vehicles by 2040. It would seem there’s a global unified front for electrification, if not for the fact that three of the most significant car markets (the US, China and Japan) did not join the pledge, nor did automakers like Toyota, Volkswagen, and Nissan.
The news is also riddled with headlines that suggest the transition to EV may have more complications than expected. A battery fire in a Ford F-150 Lightning EV pickup truck stalled production in February 2023. This was after Ford recalled 49,000 Mustang Mach-E EVs over a potential power loss issue. A 2022 J.D. Power study found that Tesla drivers reported 226 problems per 100 vehicles, outpacing the market.
On the other hand, Tesla just announced new process capabilities will cut the cost of their vehicles in half, while GM reported a record 4th quarter for 2022. CFO Paul Jacobson told investors, “We continue to shift resources to EVs, with around 75% of our product-specific capital dedicated to EVs and AVs.”
So the question remains: with all the volatility in the EV market, how long will ICEs be around? In other words, how long do technical education and automotive technician training programs have to update their curriculum and reskill their techs?
The good news is, automotive techs will be working on ICEs for decades to come. Why? Because the turnover of vehicles on the road will be much slower than the rate of new EV sales.
Some analysts predict that by 2035, EVs will make up 25% of new car sales. But at that time, only 13% of total cars on the road will be electric. Even by 2050, new sales may be 60% electric, but our roads will still hold a majority of gas and diesel-powered engines.
All those gas-powered vehicles on the road today and being purchased in the next 15 years will still be on the road for decades after they’ve been sold. All requiring regular service and maintenance. And the older they get, the more repair they’ll need.
To all automotive programs: don’t stop what you’re teaching right now.
The implication of all this data is that automotive programs need to stay current with ASE standards, add hybrid and EV curriculum and training to their programs, and keep an eye on the market. For the next several decades, individuals with dual ICE and EV credentials and skills will be highly valuable.
To all automotive technicians currently working in the field: keep your skills sharp. They’ll continue to be in-demand, but it’s up to you to make sure you’re ready for the EV revolution.
Another piece of good news for automotive programs: there’s enough overlap between gas-powered vehicles and electric vehicles that a number of your technical topic areas for routine maintenance won’t have to entirely change. The key is to provide hands-on examples for each vehicle type so students can train to the nuances of each:
Hybrids have even more overlap than EVs.
This is a rare moment when the future of technology and skills is pretty clear, while the demand is not yet fully upon us. To prepare for the turnover of ICEs to EVs, automotive training programs should be taking action now.
Now is the time to request funding, plan lab space, rearrange curriculum, add courses, and adopt new technology. If education doesn’t embrace EV now, we won’t have the technicians we need to handle the mass adoption of EV in just a few years.
So what’s next for education?
This is our second in a series of articles around how education can embrace hybrid and EV technology. We’ll be laying out the framework step by step in our upcoming articles. Add your email below and you’ll get the next ones sent directly to your inbox!
In the meantime, browse training equipment designed for hybrid & EV education.