Editor's note: An earlier version of this story omitted a letter in the given name of Ford's George Goddu.
As sales of electric vehicles grow, so do the demands on dealerships to maintain and repair them. Meeting these expectations requires substantial dealer investment in special tools, equipment, processes and technician training.
Dealerships are getting some help from automakers as they prepare to work on ever-increasing numbers of EVs. But many say they are concerned about how providing EV service will affect their fixed ops profits.
Nissan dealerships in the United States have sold the Leaf EV since 2010. To work on the car, service departments must have the right kind of lift. They need a hoist to remove the Leaf's high-voltage battery safely. Some shops also buy a forklift designed to lift heavier EV equipment such as battery packs, says JeSean Hopkins, Nissan North America's senior manager of EV infrastructure and sales operations.
That's just the beginning. Service departments must create dedicated bays in their shops for EV service. EV work requires charging stations. Some service technicians work only on electric vehicles; all techs who deal with EVs require special gloves and eye equipment.
Ted Christiano, general manager of Boulder Nissan, in Colorado, says he has spent about $110,000 to prepare his service department for EV work. The expenditure has been worthwhile, he insists.
"The amount of volume we do more than makes up for the investment," Christiano told Fixed Ops Journal.
He notes that of the 682 new vehicles his university-town dealership sold in 2018, 312 were Leafs.