The 175-hour intensive certification program prepares vehicle technicians with the knowledge they need to repair and maintain electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles
A Quebec-founded EV and plug-in hybrid repair and maintenance training program is being rolled out in two new provinces with support from auto parts and repair provider National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) Canada.
The Conseil provincial des Comités paritaires de l’industrie des services automobiles (CPCPA), an organization that develops and implements qualifications and training standards in the automobile repair and service sector, created the EV Skills repair and maintenance program in Quebec in 2019.
NAPA Canada is licensing the curriculum, which has already been completed by almost 400 auto mechanics in Quebec, and launching it in Ontario and British Columbia.
“We are very proud to partner with NAPA and contribute to the rollout of a national electric vehicle maintenance training program that was developed right here in Quebec and is already recognized as an industry reference,” says Charles Gagnon, executive director of the CPCPA in a press statement.
Manufacturer, vehicle agnostic
“Our program was developed to a very high standard to meet the current and future needs of the industry. It’s not tied to any particular vehicle manufacturer, and it’s updated regularly to keep up with the latest technological developments. No other program offers 175 hours of training and the support of a network of certified EV master trainers.”
Beginning this fall, the program will be offered to all NAPA AUTOPRO and AutoCare member shops in Ontario, as a part of NAPA Canada’s NexDrive certification program. The program will roll out in B.C. in early 2023.
“This [program] has really been driven by our own customers needing a solution to take their knowledge gap of their current technicians and retrain and retool them moving forward,” says Martyn Johns, national director of the NexDrive program at NAPA AUTOPRO, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.
“As an organization, we have a vested interest to understand what our customers can do, what they can buy and how we’re going to be able to repair and maintain all vehicles in the future.”
Filling a knowledge gap
When NAPA began researching the best competency training program for EV repair and maintenance, it became clear there was a knowledge gap in Canada that needed to be filled.
“We need to have a constant base-level of competency training that can take a technician coming out of an apprenticeship or a journeyman of 20 years,” says Johns. “They should feel confident that they are able to understand safely and mechanically how the system operates.”
The CPCPA program is a 22-day, 175-hour intensive certification covering topics on EV and plug-in hybrid maintenance and diagnostic tools as well as the basics of electrical currents and voltage.
Before starting the program, technicians must take a pre-evaluation test to determine their level of familiarity with EVs. Depending on the results of their assessment, they are placed in classes ranging in expertise from levels one to five.
“The technicians that often take these evaluations are some of the industry’s leading diagnostic or mechanical technicians at repair shops in Canada,” explains Johns. “We found that between half and two-thirds of the people that take this assessment started at level one and less than 10 per cent start past level three.”
Supporting the right-to-repair
For many independent technicians and mechanics, accessing information on how to repair parts of EVs is limited. Auto manufacturers may choose whether they want to share their vehicle diagnostics data and information on maintenance and repairs with repair shops.
This is the same for combustion-engine vehicle manufacturers. But the difference, according to the Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada (a national representative of the automotive aftermarket supply and service industry) is that today EVs are digitally linked to the OEM, meaning that in the event of a problem, the information about the issue is sent to the manufacturer, and your local repair shop won’t have access to it.
In many cases EV manufacturers (such as Tesla) choose not to share vehicle data and information on servicing them outside their dealerships, says Johns.
Currently, there is movement in the auto industry toward establishing right-to-repair legislation that will require manufacturers to share how to service their vehicles. In February of this year, the right-to-repair automotive vehicles private member’s bill was introduced in Parliament and is currently being considered by the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology. Earlier this month, AIA appeared before the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology to advocate for amendments to the Copyright Act bill, to make it easier for consumers to repair their vehicles at an affordable price.
In the meantime, the launch of the national NexDrive EV repair and maintenance program is something NAPA Canada hopes will help the industry make progress, while everyone waits for the policy lever.
“The piece on the training is a massive step forward for the industry. It’s a massive step forward for our customers to have access to this type of skill development and competencies understanding,” says Johns.
“The aftermarket needs to come together to support the right-to-repair. And that is why organizations like ours need to continue leading. We owe it to those 25,000 customers in Canada that are buying our parts and services.”