My company, Automotive Career Development Center (ACDC), is busy. Why? Technical training on electric vehicles (EVs) is what we do.
Last week, I was asked to help a salvage yard with a 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 that needed the removal of a high-voltage battery pack. It is a local yard and one I did business with years before, when I ran my shop. Now we train their disassemblers and technicians.
Tom, the manager, called me as they could not find the orange disconnect plug. Even though I had emails to return, the thought of getting outside on a warm sunny day (I live in Massachusetts) was appealing. I told Tom I would be there in 20 minutes.
I met Jimmy, their tech, and headed out back to see the VW electric car. I showed him where the new-style safety disconnect was and explained some of the changes in the EV world that he needed to be updated on.
Tom came back to say hello and the three of us enjoyed the weather. As we visited the topic of Massachusetts’ new EV mandate, off-shore wind power, battery production and more came up. They were skeptics.
This was familiar territory for me, as most of our classes had similar conversations. No one got excited. There were three mind sets.
Tom did not question the basic idea of EVs, but thought we were moving too fast. Jimmy was laid back and had no opinion he was willing to share, but had a job that required him to take apart any crashed high-voltage vehicle they purchased. I offered some data about EV sales trending upwards, what was coming soon, the latest safety issues and my view of the future. I, of course, love the technology, but still try to remain objective by looking at the downside.
After some back and forth, I asked both of them, “Do you think global warming is changing the weather and creating the extreme droughts, floods and hurricanes?” That one question splits the industry into two camps: those in the industry who agree that there is a looming global climate crisis and that tail pipe emissions of carbon dioxide are the main reason for the rapid expansion to EVs, and those who do not.
The majority of technicians and others in our industry who do not want to be part of this transition have a view that climate change is either completely made-up or that it is a naturally occurring event and we cannot do anything about it. (My informal survey is based on the technicians we teach.)
Carl Sagan from Cornell University spoke to Congress in 1985 about the effect of carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect. That video is about 17 minutes long and is available on the Internet. It is quite educational.
There is a growing number of ACDC students who know the science and the relationship between carbon dioxide and a warming planet.
If you are resisting the EV movement — and many do — there are plenty of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles to work on, so you will be fine for a long time — but not forever. If you are concerned about the climate and are taking care of your customers, no matter what they drive, you will be fine for the rest of your life. Which side are you on?
Resisting change is normal. The only change you will embrace is the one that presents itself as something good for you or those you love. At this point, if you are still reading this, I will assume you are open to change.
Could you imagine a technician who was opposed to gasoline and diesel fuels? That would be ridiculous. If he or she was hired to fix motor vehicles and had such an outlook, that person’s job prospects would be limited, at best. No owner would put up with that.
I interviewed a local car dealership technician last year, as we needed more expertise in evaluating the electric cars we buy for our business to teach with. The dealership’s owner did not like EVs, so they sold very few. This technician was the best they had, but eventually left them to work at ACDC because he saw no future at this dealership. The business kept losing customers, his pay was limited, flat rate times were shrinking and he knew more and more that electric cars and trucks were coming.
His motivation was simple: find a job with a future. He knew that “throwing pizza at a tech to motivate them” was a joke. Motivation comes from a culture that keeps moving forward — one that is not afraid of the next thing.