How Ford is Training its Service Technicians for an EV Future
The transition to EVs is inevitable. Yet, it's important to remember that gas-powered vehicles will last for decades. Regardless of the powertrain, mechanics will be an important part of making sure all vehicles stay on the road as long as possible.
Currently, the service departments at traditional automaker dealerships see far more ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles than EVs. Those numbers will eventually switch as electric and electrified vehicles dominate vehicle sales in the coming years.
For the ICE mechanics out there, it's a good idea to start gathering the knowledge needed to service the growing number of EVs that will show up at local shops and service centers. Fortunately, automakers like Ford have partnered with local schools to train the next generation of service technicians to ensure they're ready for the electric vehicle revolution.
Ford's Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) is currently launching at select community colleges around the nation and is integrating EV and hybrid courses into curriculums. It's highly targeted training that includes on-the-job experience at local Ford dealerships.
Marcus Liskey, Ford's EV engineering manager for customer service divisions told SAE at a high level, that understanding software and how electricity works is paramount. "When it truly gets into an EV-certified tech, it gets into high-voltage systems."
The automaker also has courses that help get current techs ready to work on EV motors and other electric components specific to battery electric vehicles. The company is also making sure that specially trained technicians can work on battery packs at the modular level.
In all of Ford's current EVs, the pack can be removed and specially trained techs can access and replace individual modules. The mechanics can learn this skill via internal Ford training that's both online and in-person. There's also additional training for the rest of the staff to essentially steer clear of a pack sitting on the service center floor.
One of the biggest messages Liskey has for service centers is to gauge the willingness of everyone in the service crew. "You have to find someone that has the aptitude, the desire, and the interest. Don't just assume that it's your most senior tech." In total, Ford's course is roughly 60 hours of certification training.
Those interested in going into a career as a service mechanic will still need to know the basics of working on a car. EVs may be less complicated than ICE vehicles, but they still have suspension, steering brakes, and other components outside the powertrain that need servicing. Computer experience is helpful, but time under the hood, and tools in hand are essential.
These EV skills when combined with the knowledge of ICE vehicles should give those in service centers job security as electrified vehicles become a larger portion of the transportation market.
ICE vehicles are still the main source of income for shops, but that's going to change at some point. Having the skills necessary for a new sustainable future is a surefire way to make sure that when those EVs show up, you'll be ready.