As interest in battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) gain momentum in South Africa, bodyshops will want to capitalise on this added stream of income but will have to have their ducks in a row when it comes to being prepared.
Some of the following tips might be common sense, but as the 18th century philosopher Voltaire said “common sense is not so common”.
- From the get-go remember that you will be dealing with electricity and that this is a matter of life and death. There will literally be no room for error.
- Create a designated space for EV repairs that only authorized staff will have access to. Mark these areas with caution tape and warning signs.
- Precautions should not be limited to the interior of your bodyshop but extended to the parking lot with designated spaces for EVs.
- Consider all vehicles “live until verified”. Use the proper diagnostic tools to determine the vehicle’s charge status.
- Use color-coded tags on EVs to alert staff as to the status of a vehicle before the battery has been officially disengaged.
- Once the EV is inside the shop it is critical to engage the parking brake in order to ensure that there is no rotation of the wheels that can create a charge.
- Review the OEM’s emergency response guide and follow it’s repair principles in order to ensure safe and quality repairs.
- Be aware of battery “concussions”. A battery might look like nothing is wrong but never assume that it is ok. Potential unseen trouble could be lurking as chemical reactions take time to develop.
- One of the biggest risks is when a battery is “out of balance”. This is when several cells are holding different voltage levels which can lead to thermal events.
- Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) adds another layer of safety, especially in the event of accidently touching something that is energized.
- Familiarise yourself with the whole vehicle, from understanding all the high voltage system parts to cables and how they are routed.
- Use the correct tools which may include scan tools, digital volt ohm meters, dual pole testers, milliohm meters and megaohm testers. Remember that some brands of EVs might also require tools specific to the brand.
- Training, training, training. Need we say more? Ongoing training of both you and staff is paramount.