Plugging In to EV Repairs

CEI, an acci­dent and risk man­age­ment com­pa­ny for com­mer­cial, truck and gov­ern­ment fleets, han­dled its first all-elec­tric acci­dent claim in May 2011, accord­ing to Robert Glose, CEI’s direc­tor of oper­a­tions.  As of the end of Feb­ru­ary this year, he said the num­ber exceed­ed 1,100.

“If the elec­tri­cal sys­tem isn’t involved, a repair on an all-elec­tric vehi­cle can be just like on any oth­er fleet vehi­cle,” Mr. Glose remarked.  “But when the elec­tri­cal sys­tem is involved, it’s a dif­fer­ent mat­ter, both in terms of expense and repair time.”

One of the main issues for all-elec­tric vehi­cles is that before some repairs can be start­ed the vehi­cle must have its elec­tri­cal sys­tem dis­con­nect­ed, which could require the vehi­cle to be moved to a deal­er­ship.  “Unless the elec­tri­cal sys­tem is shut down, a body repair tech­ni­cian runs the risk of a fatal shock,” said Greg Neu­man, CEI’s qual­i­ty con­trol super­vi­sor.

Mr. Glose said that when plug-in vehi­cles first appeared in fleets, many deal­er­ships had yet to receive the train­ing from man­u­fac­tur­ers in how to shut down and eval­u­ate dam­age to the elec­tri­cal sys­tem.  “In some cas­es, the man­u­fac­tur­er had to fly out engi­neers to help the deal­ers,” he said. “That’s real­ly not the case any longer.”

Mr. Glose said the need to take vehi­cles with elec­tri­cal sys­tem dam­age to deal­ers has result­ed in a slight­ly longer aver­age repair cycle time for all all-elec­tric vehi­cle repairs com­pared to con­ven­tion­al vehi­cles. Mean­while, Mr. Neu­man said the prices of replace­ment bat­ter­ies – which ini­tial­ly ran as much as sev­er­al thou­sands of dol­lars, has fall­en sig­nif­i­cant­ly.

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