If you’ve already made the switch to an electric vehicle, you’ve probably got your charging routine down to a T and are already seeing the cost benefits, but you may be thinking about the future of servicing and repairing your vehicle.
At LV= General Insurance (LV= GI), we’ve been thinking about that too. So, in this blog we’ll look at the future of how we service and repair electric vehicles, as well as our own journey to becoming more environmentally friendly.
Green is more than just our colour, it’s our culture.
What does being green look like for us?
At LV= GI, we’re really proud to have a network of 25 branded bodyshops (we call them sole sites) around the UK, which work exclusively on repairs for our customers. As a network, we started introducing the use of ‘green parts’ which are approved recycled parts that come with a repair warranty – and we’ve been talking to customers about the environmental benefits of using them, too.
In April 2021, we decided to move environmental and social responsibility goals up a gear (excuse the pun!) by launching the Green Heart Standard, a first of its kind initiative in the industry which brings together six key principals and commitments:
- Receive PAS 2060 certification (the requirement to achieve and demonstrate carbon neutrality) for all 25 of our sole sites
- Offer our customers an electric courtesy car while theirs is off the road (even if they drive a petrol or diesel car)
- Continue to encourage the use of green parts throughout all our sites
- Promote diversity and equality within the workforce
- Provide mental health awareness and support to all employees
- Support a long-term commitment to apprenticeships
So, let’s get into the detail…
The future is bright… and green
We wanted to set some bold targets for our Green Heart Standard initiative, and achieving carbon neutrality seemed like a good place to start. We’re helping all our branded bodyshops achieve PAS 2060 certification – which is developed by the British Standards Institution. So far, 18 of our branded bodyshops have already received their certification, and we’re working hard to have all sites compliant by the end of 2022. Our site – ABL in Redhill – was the first to achieve its status.
The power is in the people
With the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road having increased by 117.4%1 over the last year, not only do we need the right facilities to service these vehicles, but we need the next generation of EV mechanics too. EVs may look similar to petrol and diesel cars, but beyond their chassis are a number of high-voltage components, including the battery itself, high-voltage cabling and drive units. Although the battery is the most expensive and well-known part of an EV, these other high-voltage components can be incredibly tricky to deal with too, so specific skills are required. However, according to the Institute of the Motor Industry, only 5% of mechanics are qualified to work on EVs, and those that are qualified are largely employed by manufacturers’ franchises and dealerships.
As part of our Green Heart Standard commitments, we’re establishing a set of requirements that outline a clear structure for apprentice training. This includes offering tailored induction programmes, action plans and supporting employees through Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications for EV repairs. To make sure employees are aware of the risks, all employees at the sites also take part in EV awareness training and risk assessments for high voltage vehicles.
It doesn’t stop there though, we’re also working with the Auto Raise scheme which is a charity set up to help the UK vehicle repair industry attract young people into a range of technical apprenticeships. By working together and across all our activities, we hope to address the skills crisis and build on the training needed to service and repair high tech cars, such as electric vehicles.
Keeping you moving on the journey to green
We’ve already talked about the fact that servicing EVs is a completely different task to servicing petrol and diesel cars, so we think insurance and breakdown cover needs to be completely different too. For example, EV drivers may need access to roadside changing, which is why we’ve partnered with AFF the national roadside electric vehicle charging assistance company and have a fleet of vehicles on hand should you run out of charge whilst on the road. Handy, right?
The road ahead
There’s a long road ahead of us to meet the Government’s green targets, and like many things, we’re sure the 2030 ban of new petrol and diesel vehicles will come around sooner than we think. The rise in electric vehicles creates a huge opportunity for the industry and consumers to embrace and adapt for the future. It’s going to be crucial we focus on developing the right skills, knowledge and infrastructure to support it, and for us at LV= GI, our Green Heart Standard is the first of many big steps towards doing do just that.
1 SMMT car registration figures July 2021
About the author
Chris Payne is Head of Networks and Engineering at LV= General Insurance and oversees the motor repair, building contractor and rescue recovery networks as well as the insurers motor engineering function.