Investment bank UBS has predicted that 20% of all new cars will be electric by 2025, and 50% by 2030. Many car manufacturers agree. American Honda is committed to having electric vehicles represent 40% of sales by 2030, and 80% of its sales by 2035. Volvo has pledged that 100% of its new vehicles will now be hybrids or fully electric vehicles. But as sales of electrical and hybrid vehicles increase, the need for greater electric vehicle repair safety has increased too.

All electric vehicles, whether they are a hybrid powertrain like a Prius, a plug-in hybrid like the Chevrolet Bolt, or a fully battery-electric car, pose a possibly fatal threat of shock or fire, especially during collision repairs. As a result, it’s important that every facility takes a careful, informed approach to electric vehicle repair safety including detailed record keeping, training and hazard prevention.

Electric Battery Risks During Collision Repair

From a collision or other XOE (extraordinary event), the battery components of HEVs (Hybrid Electric Vehicles) and EVEs (Electric Vehicles), can be punctured, pushed or damaged. This can compromise the battery’s protective case, or high-voltage wiring harness and can lead to shock hazards, explosions and fires at the repair facility unless precautions are taken. When damaged, lithium and NiMH batteries can be extremely hazardous—they are vulnerable to stranded energy (the inability to remove stored and potentially dangerous energy after a collision event), and both are capable of producing dangerously high voltage (from 100 to 800 volts and higher).

As Repairer Driven News reports, “Electric/hybrid vehicles have a number of safety concerns not associated with conventional vehicles including electrocution, explosion, electrolyte spillage, and/or fire … There have been numerous real-world examples of electric vehicles catching on fire after a crash and in the garages where they were being stored.”

Electric Vehicle Repair Safety Risks

While all electrical vehicles contain high-voltage components, their location and design differences mean there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ repair solution. That’s why, for electric vehicle repair safety, it’s critical that repair shops and collision centers reference the documented OEM procedures on the make and model of the cars they are working on before they begin repair work. For example, Ford’s Hybrid Vehicle Operation and Diagnosis Training Manual FCS-21020-REF states: “Most electrical accidents are the result of incorrect or careless action, not faulty equipment. Follow procedures exactly (to avoid injury and damage).”  That’s true for all HEV or EVE repair.

Protect Your Team

Failure to follow electric vehicle repair safety procedures, or not wearing the right PPE, can lead to many different types of injury. These include electrocution, burns from explosions, chemicals and toxic hazards, and secondary accidents to electronic medical life support devices (including internal pain medicine pumps, implanted defibrillators, heart pacemakers, insulin pumps and hearing aids).

Download the Procedure Safety Checklist and PPE Safety Checklist to help ensure your team knows the processes and equipment they need for electric vehicle repair safety.

Stay Safe and Compliant with GMG EnviroSafe

Staying up-to-date on all the safety processes can be nearly impossible. Did you know there are more than 500,000 pages of repair information a collision technician needs to reference today? But one wrong move when repairing electric vehicles can be catastrophic. Fortunately, GMG EnviroSafe can help, with a vast menu of programs, training classes and modules, resources like safety logs and much more. Contact us for more information on proper electric vehicle repair safety procedures and equipment.

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