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£51bn economy benefit, if UK Government supports ULEV sector

Commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry and authored by Professor Jim Saker of Loughborough University, the report will be presented to a cross-party group of MPs on Wednesday, highlighting shortfalls in refuelling and charging infrastructure and a potential skills gap in workshops.

It suggests that, while the UK’s geography makes it ideal for new vehicle technologies, the Government should support a network of 1,250 hydrogen fuelling stations for fuel cell vehicles to help the market grow.

The IMI is advising that it should become illegal to work on high-voltage batteries without a license, beginning with newly-qualified technicians this year, to encourage investment in training and improve workshop safety. There are only 1,000 technicians in the UK who are qualified with a Level 4 in Electric and Hybrid Car Maintenance, it said.

It also highlights that franchised dealers are struggling to attract young people into technical jobs, and that 81% of independent garages are finding it hard to get highly skilled technicians, said to be due to the lack of Government support.

“Without proper regulation a skills gap will emerge with only a limited number of technicians working in the franchised sector being able to service and repair new technology vehicles,” said Saker. “If this trend is found to be true then it is likely that the independent sector of the retail automotive sector will decline. This will mean that the market will fail to open up and develop to the benefit of the UK economy.” 

IMI CEO, Steve Nash, who will co-present the findings on Wenesday, added: “We have seen growth of more than 20% in alternatively fuelled vehicles with Tesla announcing orders of £7bn in only two days for their new model. It's vital we take the appropriate steps now if we want to ensure that the UK has the skilled workforce it needs across the whole industry to support and service these vehicles.”

Alex Grant

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