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Goodbye, auto mechanic

  On the Hockenheim circuit in southwest Germany, Formula One drivers are flying through corners in their high-performance cars. At this time, a disassembled sports car at the Porsche customer center near the track offers a glimpse of the perfect coexistence of speed and quiet. Pointing to the edge of a large black box under the sports car’s chassis, Porsche product engineer Christian Brugger said, “With a utility knife, you can take it apart from here.”
  The black box is a battery pack with a capacity of 93 kWh. The 260 km/h Taycan is the first all-electric sports car from Porsche. Bright orange wiring zigzags and snakes through the various electronic components. Auto mechanics, both professional and amateur, know that a 12-volt internal combustion engine can trigger uncomfortable electric shocks. The power cell at hand is up to 800 volts, and although it is equipped with a safety system, the slightest inadvertence can still be life-threatening.
  Bruegger mentioned the tool knife is a new energy vehicle repair special, can vibrate the blunt blade, somewhat similar to the doctor used to remove the cast but will not hurt the patient kind. After removing about 160 bolts, the tool knife can be inserted into the edge of the battery cover, cutting open the adhesive sealing the battery pack. When the battery cover is removed, 33 lithium battery modules come into view – the most commonly used power cells in new energy vehicles. Now, if a group of batteries fails, it can be replaced.
| Power battery: replacement or repair? | Power Batteries

  The power battery is the most expensive component of a new energy vehicle. In a new car, for example, the cost of the battery accounts for about 30% of the cost of the vehicle. At present, 4S stores are not yet qualified to repair batteries, and once the battery fails, it can only be replaced with a new one. Given that some new energy vehicles cost up to $20,000 for the battery, this is undoubtedly a huge expense. If a new car is not purchased for a long time and the battery is still under warranty (usually eight years), the manufacturer will cover the cost of replacing the battery. However, with the age of the vehicle and the depreciation of the vehicle, if you have to spend money to replace the battery, many owners may prefer to scrap the vehicle early.
  Forty-five percent of the carbon emissions generated by the production of a new energy vehicle originate from the power battery. Therefore, from the perspective of environmental protection, it is quite necessary to repair the battery and extend the life of the car as much as possible. After all, most battery failures are caused by one of the modules or individual cells, and with proper repair, it is possible to extend the life of the entire battery pack. When the battery eventually has to be scrapped, manufacturers can also recycle it and reuse the valuable materials in the production of new batteries.
  For new energy vehicle owners, the serviceability of the battery is undoubtedly good news; but for repair shops, servicing the battery means having to invest in new equipment and training the necessary skilled workers. Admittedly, routine maintenance of new energy vehicles also requires investment, but repairing the battery is not a wrench that can be solved, it requires professionals with a background in electrical engineering, computers and software, and such talent is also very sought after in other industries.
  The shortage of talent in the new energy vehicle industry has caused concern in several countries. The British Automobile Industry Association claims that by 2030, at least 90,000 new skilled workers in the repair and service of new energy vehicles should be added to meet market demand. However, until 2020, only 6.5% of skilled workers in the UK will be able to perform such work. Steve Nash, the association’s director, said that more and more people are buying new energy vehicles, and the government must provide relevant support to promote the training of talents in this field to avoid a large number of job vacancies in the future.

  The car battery repair is not a solution to move a wrench.
| Challenges for auto repair shops |

  Specialized equipment, including high-voltage equipment, computerized diagnostic instruments and safety devices, require huge investments. Cadillac, a GM brand, has reportedly told its dealers across the U.S. that they will need to spend an average of $200,000 on specialized equipment and personnel training if they want to remain competitive given the brand’s transition to pure electrification. Some dealers have given up on this, but others see an opportunity to expand their business, the industry report said.
  Many garages are reluctant to make this investment, especially small repair shops that mainly repair old cars. Compared to fuel cars, the loss of parts in new energy vehicles is minimal, and combined with high reliability, they require less maintenance services and can naturally bring lower profits to the garage. A fuel car’s powertrain (engine, transmission and transfer case) typically uses 2,000 parts, while a new energy car may only need 20.
  This difference in the structure of the car has a huge impact on the revenue of the repair shop. McKinsey & Company believes that new energy vehicles may reduce U.S. dealers’ parts revenue by 40%. At the same time, pure electric cars do not need to change the oil and spark plugs, and daily maintenance costs will certainly be greatly reduced. Porsche Taycan, for example, its maintenance costs are 30% lower than the same type of fuel car. In addition, many upgrade maintenance projects can be completed as long as the network, owners do not even have to make a special trip to the 4S store.
| The crisis of auto mechanics |

  Peter Lake, Porsche’s after-sales manager, said that battery repair may be able to compensate to some extent for the loss of revenue from other service items. He also mentioned that Porsche plans to divide its new energy vehicle repair technicians into three levels: Level 1 technicians are responsible for the daily maintenance of the vehicle; Level 2 technicians are responsible for the loading and unloading of the entire battery; but only Level 3 technicians, who have received the highest level of training, are qualified to disassemble the battery for repair. In Porsche’s view, dealers with three-level technicians can become the local battery repair center, to provide battery repair services to other dealers with only one and two-level technicians. Porsche is also planning to introduce a “walk-in” service, where qualified technicians can provide on-site assistance to multiple workshops.
  As automotive technology evolves, repair shops will face even greater challenges. As with aircraft, the car’s growing number of sensors can more closely monitor the car’s performance, before the failure of the corresponding preventive maintenance appointments for it automatically. While self-driving technology is not yet fully mature, one day new energy vehicles will be able to drive themselves to repair shops to deal with breakdowns.
  Of course, disruptive technology also means new opportunities. When Tesla was founded, Elon Musk was just a layman in the auto industry, and in 2008, Tesla released its first new energy vehicle, the Roadster, after which a host of companies in other fields became interested in electric vehicle repair services.
  Pete Gruber began providing repair services for the Roadster in 2013. Gruber Auto Repair, located in Phoenix, Arizona, has grown to become an independent Tesla service center. With the help of self-developed special tools and test equipment, the company got the right to operate the Tesla electronics and battery repair services. According to Gruber, he was successful because he previously ran a related company for 30 years. That company specializes in repairing high-voltage power systems for data centers, which is arguably closely related to what he is currently doing. In addition, Gruber Automotive Repair has its own research and development lab. Gruber specifically notes, “The average skilled worker can’t do this job.” So, auto mechanics, be careful, you are afraid of unemployment is already a stone’s throw away.

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