This article appears courtesy of BodyShop Business
By Dirk Fuchs, director of Technical Programs and Services for I-CAR.
Today’s electric vehicle (EV)/hybrid revolution combined with the lightning-speed proliferation of advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) features has truly made today one of the most head-turning, transformative eras of vehicle innovation. In fact, I-CAR coined the term “technical tsunami” several years ago to describe the rise in advanced vehicle repair. To put things into perspective, there are more than 10 million EVs on the road today. What’s more, from 2020 to 2021, global EV sales doubled. The tide is here, my friends.
Riding the Wave
This revolution is why I-CAR is strengthening its commitment to lead the collision repair industry in timely and relevant EV, hybrid and ADAS educational solutions, expanding its technical capabilities and capacities in pursuit of trusted, proven approaches to the most pressing needs of today and into the future.
Specifically, I-CAR’s technical hubs in Appleton, Wis., and now in Vernon Hills, Ill. (with the recent opening of the Chicago Technical Center), represent a combined powerhouse of world-class working labs and an expanded bench of technical experts all focused on performing this critical, time-sensitive work. This technical reboot couldn’t have come at a more needed time, and we thank the countless individuals from throughout the industry who have provided untold hours of input that helped us in recalibrating our efforts.
Make no mistake, however, that the underlying blueprint for I-CAR’s work rests in its 43-year-old mission and vision guiding each and every step it takes: to deliver increasingly accessible, on-demand and relevant education, knowledge, services and solutions for the collision repair inter-industry. I-CAR’s team of technical experts upholds and translates that mission into leading educational training and solutions, guided by the Automotive Collision Repair Industry Knowledge and Skills Protocol.
I’m part of I-CAR’s team of technical experts who vet and test collision repair methods, best practices and educational programming for emerging technologies as these continue to accelerate and become increasingly complex. We work closely with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), allowing us to address new technologies with greater speed and proficiency. As technical advances emerge, we do not have the luxury of waiting to determine if it is going to become mainstream or not. We must go to it, learn it and be able to educate the industry in a timely manner if needed.
New, Hands-on EV Course
That’s why I-CAR is thrilled to offer two new Hands-On Skills Development courses at the Chicago Technical Center: a three-day Static ADAS Calibration course and a five-day EV course, taught by I-CAR’s bench of EV experts and serving as the capstone to eight prerequisite EV courses for collision repair professionals.
This EV capstone course provides personalized, on-site instruction to help technicians gain the confidence and competence needed to help inspect and repair today’s EV and hybrid vehicles aligned with OEM-specific procedures and high-voltage safety best practices.
The state-of-the-art EV lab at the Chicago Technical Center offers the ideal learning environment, as it is designed to include all of the appropriate tools, equipment and space, along with expert instruction necessary to guide individuals towards safety and proficiency in all aspects of the EV repair process. EV safety instruction includes learning how to safely disconnect high-voltage systems, confirming zero potential and initializing high-voltage systems following repairs and service. I help to personally provide instruction throughout this five-day capstone course, and I couldn’t be more proud of the impact of this work.
Brad Battershell, technical development specialist with Penske Truck Leasing’s collision repair, was one of the first to enroll in this course.
“No one is offering this level of specialized EV training; we hounded [I-CAR] to ensure we were in this class on day one,” said Battershell. “The knowledge was first-rate; nothing was missed. It really opened my eyes to all aspects of EV safety. I left feeling like I completely understand every safety consideration and that not only could I complete a safe repair, but I could actually direct someone to perform this work.
“Safety was foremost, but in the end we learned components, how they interact, the side effects and potential dangers. The number-one learning was how to achieve zero potential of electrical shock. That is job number one.”
In addition to theory, Battershell and his fellow classmates spent plenty of time in practicing — and perfecting — key safety repair troubleshooting considerations.
“It only reinforces how this training is designed for technicians in every single location out there; anyone in any division can benefit from this course,” he said.
I-CAR continues to offer an evolving list of relevant and robust EV courses. For the latest course additions and registration for the new five-day hands-on course, click here.