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.