Electric vehicles (EVs) are starting to make up a considerable share of the new vehicle market. There are definite performance and environmental advantages to EVs over vehicles powered by fossil fuels. That being said, support and maintenance for EVs or more specifically the service for electric vehicle electronics is still developing into a mature infrastructure. At the center of this infrastructure will be how to care for the unique components found in these vehicles.
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EV electronics service reality check
Many journalists and enthusiasts have the mistaken idea that EVs will not require any maintenance. This often-repeated advantage over internal combustion vehicles is simply not true. EVs still have brakes, suspension, steering, air conditioning and heating systems. If they are involved in a collision, they will still require bodywork and frame alignment. The methods for repairing these items are well established and will vary only slightly from existing vehicles.
However, the cost is a major differentiator. The cost of EV maintenance is similar to or less than gas-powered vehicles, depending on the type of repair. The average cost of repairing and maintaining an EV is $900 a year compared to $1,200 for gas cars.
Another major difference with EVs is that they do not have a complex gas engine, transmission or fuel system to worry about. In their place are extremely simple electric motors and electronic controllers. This means that there will be a need for new EV electronics repair diagnostics and tools to help mechanics fix the electronic components inside the vehicle.
Controllers and their purpose
Electronic controllers are the brains of any electric vehicle. They dictate acceleration rate, torque limits, power consumption and battery thermal management. Electronic controllers are usually dedicated to the motors, batteries and overall vehicle operation. They may be separate sub-systems or part of one overall system, with most tending to be modular in nature. Due to the complex construction of their printed circuit boards, they need to be inspected and tested with the proper diagnostic tools. Fixing them is not as easy as simply replacing a fuse or swapping out a chip.
Electronics reliability rates
The reliability of the electronic controllers inside EVs is theoretically very good in terms of the mean time between failures. However, implementation in a vehicle is a lot different than a bench test. It remains to be seen what exposure to extreme temperatures, shocks and vibration will do to the service life of these components. If the predicted reliability of these controllers is lower than expected, the need for EV electronics repair on a wide scale will be unavoidable.
Service for the cars of the future
Due to the newness of EVs, there is no existing network of repair shops that specialize in service for electric vehicle electronics. This is a definite future business opportunity for repair shops to move from a more mechanical approach to one where electronics repair is more critical. Repair shops in the future may have equal space for physical auto repair as well as electronics testing and diagnostics.
There are many shops that currently specialize in EV and hybrid vehicle repair, but they are not as prevalent as conventional repair facilities. These shops will work on any EV or hybrid even if they are out of warranty. Some of these shops also offer an extended warranty on the parts they replace. Given the anticipated durability of the electronic components of EVs, there is little doubt that these would be placed under a warranty as well.
To learn more about Huntron’s solutions for service of electric vehicle electronics, contact us today.