Dealerships have been warned against unduly increasing their shop labor rates as electric cars and vans become commonplace or risk losing important customers.

Lorna McAtear, the manager who oversees National Grid’s fleet of 3,000 vehicles, told AM’s sister brand Fleet News that she, while acknowledging that workshops will have to move from servicing ICE vehicles to electric vehicles, with the consequent loss of oil profits, any price increases they might consider must be justifiable.

“Any garage that increases the labor rate on EVs disproportionately over an ICE vehicle, when we all know less labor is needed, then I’m going to walk away,” a- she declared.

McAtear, who in 2021 was named Barbara Cox Woman of the Year in the UK car industry, pointed out that BEVs do not need to be serviced as frequently, allowing fleets to realize additional savings including in terms of downtime.

“Over a period of three or four years you might send it twice, whereas on an ICE vehicle you would send it every year,” she said.

His view was echoed by Ashely Barnett, head of fleet consulting at Lex Autolease, who said electric vehicles can be up to 50% cheaper to maintain than their ICE counterparts.

Fleet Assist data shows that the difference is not that big. It revealed that the average transaction value of a service for a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is currently about 22% lower than that of an equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) car, according to new data. .

Much of this can be attributed to reduced working times which are currently 33% shorter for BEVs than for ICE cars, according to analysis of 850,000 fleet cars and vans using the network of 5,200 Fleet Assist franchise and independent garages.

The parts component of a BEV job is also typically 28% cheaper than an ICE car because they have fewer job parts, with much lower brake wear.

SMR data shows that currently the most commonly replaced BEV parts are pollen filters, bulbs, key fob batteries, windshield wipers and brake fluid.

Fleet Assist indicates that the service, maintenance and repair (SMR) cost gap widens further, when you take into account parts prices which have increased by approximately 10% over the past 12 months.

However, he warns that dealerships are looking to raise SMR costs further to maintain profitability as they begin to feel the pinch of reduced maintenance revenue, drivers driving fewer miles and rapidly rising vehicle costs. operation, in particular the salaries of technicians.

Fleet Assist was contacted recently by a franchise workshop who were considering introducing a specific BEV service labor rate of £125, an 89% increase over the equivalent labor cost maintenance of ICE cars.

Vincent St Claire, Managing Director of Fleet Assist, explained: “Garages are already beginning to understand the impact of electric vehicles on their maintenance revenue and workshop traffic over the longer term.

“We may see more garages looking for ways to address how the BEV aftermarket paradigm shift will challenge their service delivery and the fees they charge.”

Fleet Assist says garages need to consider their future investments and growing overheads.

This includes training technicians, the continued provision of a collection and delivery service and courtesy vehicles and upgrading their workshops to handle BEVs, which includes multiple software updates.

A recent Motor Ombudsman survey confirmed that six in 10 garages plan to raise prices in 2022 to stay profitable amid rising overheads.

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