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The one constant thing — in any industry — is change. Dealers and other fleet-servicing shops are coming to terms with the growing shift toward electric fleet vehicles. If enough truck dealerships are slow to adopt, “it may slow down the rollout or it may lead to another service model, such as through third parties or national service chains,” said Mike Roeth, executive director for the North American Council for Freight Efficiency.
Tyler Robertson, CEO of Diesel Laptops, which provides diagnostic software and hardware, called the transition an interesting opportunity for his company and independent repair shops.
He said his shop has been approached by more than one company that makes electric trucks — more startup situations versus the traditional OEMs. “They are basically saying, ‘We need a great support network of people who are trained and competent to fix our trucks as they go across the country,’ ” Robertson noted. “They need training on high voltages, the right diagnostic tools.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Healy, founder and CEO of Hyliion Corp., a startup truck maker that is now publicly traded, suggested there may be more of a modular process with servicing the components key to electric vehicles than in-house repairs — such as with Hyliion’s Class 8 Hypertruck ERX model that uses natural gas to power a generator to charge the batteries, along with regenerative braking.
“A couple of years ago we transitioned our model to battery packs that are all fully sealed off and don’t get serviced in the field,” he said. “If there is a battery issue, you do a full battery pack replacement, a component replacement. You don’t try to fix parts, you just replace them. Then we ship them to headquarters here in Texas and we fix them.”
He thinks the whole industry will evolve that way. If an inverter fails, you are not going to ask a technician at a service center to open it up and look at the circuit boards and try to fix it, Healy said. Swapping out parts, he added, is something technicians know how to do already.
“We are just going to have to educate them on, as opposed to swapping out an air filter, you are now going to swap out an inverter, and it is going to have two plugs on it, one high voltage one low voltage,” Healy said. “Then you are going to have nuts and bolts that hold it down on rubber washers, rubber grommets.”
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