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How the government can help you move to EVs

Aug. 30, 2023
When government regulation makes changes in an industry, like zero emissions policies, here's a look at what that same government should do to help smooth that transition to EV fleets.

When big business is regulated — for any reason — taxpayers chip in and help out. Employee retraining is often on the list.

Unfortunately, sometimes employees do not want training, so it’s met with resistance. We are in one of those times.

To date, 13 states have adopted a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) program; California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

It makes sense that if a government regulation makes a transition in any industry, that same government should help employees and company owners in the retraining of those who are affected. Why would the motor vehicle repair industry be any different?

In the state of Massachusetts, where I live and work, a motor vehicle technician can be defined as a “fossil fuel worker.” The environmental impact of this type of job can have a negative effect on the health of everyone in a shop that is not careful with air quality, as well as those who work with carbon-based chemicals.

The changeover to electric vehicles (EVs) will automatically make tire dealerships and other auto repair facilities healthier places to work, but first we need to learn the ins and outs of EVs, including EV training.

See also: How fleets can reduce their carbon footprint without EVs

A recent search on the www.energy.gov web site for “automotive mechanic retraining” that I performed netted 668 hits. I initially used the term “technician,” but the old word “mechanic” is more common in government lingo. I discovered there is no retraining for us. The U.S. Department of Labor listed 367 articles, but alas, we were excluded. Looks like the federal government is not there yet.

What can your state do to help you out? I went to the California.gov website and here is what I found; “California continues to lead the nation in the adoption of low- and zero-emission transportation and fuel technologies. To meet the need for a skilled workforce in the state’s growing clean transportation and fuels market, the California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program, formerly known as the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, is investing in manufacturing and workforce training and development, working with a variety of public and private partners.”

Most of what I discovered while researching was that most of that job training is related to the EV charging infrastructure — not EV service or repair.

That dead end brought me to the subject of procuring an EV charger for your shop. Go to https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/recent and you will be able to look up your state. Your state may have a program like Massachusetts does — what I call a “charge at work” incentive.

From the Mass.gov web site, “The Mass EVIP Public Access Charging Program” provides incentives for property owners or managers with publicly accessible parking to acquire and install Level 1 and Level 2 EV charging stations. Non-residential locations with publicly accessible parking are eligible.

The agency funds up to 80% of the hardware and installation costs to a maximum of $50,000 per street address. Level 1 and Level 2 AC (not DC) electric vehicle supply equipment also must be sold and installed in Massachusetts. That’s great for those of us who live in Massachusetts. But what if you don’t live or work here? What can you do?

See also: Breath of fresh air: Majority of trucks on road use clean diesel engine

It only takes a few minutes to get in touch with your representatives in local, state and federal governments. Start with a letter. Yes — one that requires a stamp and envelope to mail, written on your letterhead. If you haven’t written to your elected officials before, now is a good time to learn.

In 1993, Deb Van Batenburg, my wife, and I got together with some other shop owners and created the first Automotive Service Association chapter in Massachusetts. I was the president and Deb the vice president. Lessons learned in working with government were many.

Trips to Washington, D.C. were part of the job. We found some officials were helpful in making our shop — and the entire industry — better. Some were not. In those days, we were preparing for the implementation for a big update in the Clean Air Act, signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. Change was in the air and it’s happening again.

Don’t give up. This is the biggest change we have ever seen to move to EVs and we can do this. And here’s another tip: if you don’t know your local school’s automotive program’s teachers by name, get over there soon and introduce yourself. Use President John F. Kennedy’s line: “Ask not what the country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country”. Your local school board is part of your government and that school is training your next technician. The responsibility does go both ways. 

This article was originally published on ModernTireDealer.com.

Craig Van Batenburg is MTD's monthly EV Intelligence columnist and the owner of Van Batenburg's Garage Inc. dba Automotive Career Development Center, which provides training for facilities that service - or want to service - electric and hybrid vehicles. For more information, see www.fixhybrid.com or email Craig at [email protected].

About the Author

Craig Van Batenburg | Van Batenburg's Garage Inc.

Craig Van Batenburg is MTD's monthly EV Intelligence columnist and the owner of Van Batenburg's Garage Inc. dba Automotive Career Development Center, which provides training for facilities that service - or want to service - electric and hybrid vehicles. For more information, see www.fixhybrid.com or email Craig at [email protected].

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