Neil Joslin, COO at e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management, provides his view on why the vehicle recycling and salvage industry need to collaborate regarding EV and HEV management to be seen as a mature service provider market.
Electrification of road transport is building momentum. New EV sales in Europe account for 25% of worldwide sales, with the UK being one of the four largest European markets, alongside Norway, Germany and France. Demand for battery EVs in the UK grew by 186 per cent throughout 2020 to reach over 108,000 sales, while registrations of plug-in hybrids rose by more than 90 per cent to almost 67,000, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Looking forward to 2021, PwC predicts 1 in 8 newly registered cars in Great Britain are likely to be electric or hybrid.
So what does this evolving environment mean for the salvage and recycling industry? I believe, as an industry, we must work together to design and adopt professional standards related to the management of EVs. The combustion engines we already deal with can be dangerous, but we have well-established skills and safety knowledge. EVs and Hybrids present new risks and require different processes, not just in salvage or recycling but also across the board, from repair networks to emergency services. Given these new risks, and the speed at which they are hitting the industry, rapid upskilling is needed, so why not professionalise that and align it to certifications and qualifications. And, why can’t the salvage and recycling industry lead the way on this one?
Industry collaboration and a united voice regarding EV and Hybrid management will reinforce our professional credibility as a mature service provider market and see us well placed to take advantage of this new environment.
- The lithium-ion batteries that power EVs are recognised as volatile and require specific and careful handling. Consequently, new liability risks are emerging for our businesses which must be judiciously considered and mitigated. Many of us are have already introduced training on the safe management of EVs for our staff, to include recovery drivers and dismantlers. I would propose for consistency and our collective supply chain credibility, we require an EV training programme which is the accepted industry standard and provides associated certification.
- While manufacturers and industry bodies are making guidelines available for the repair of EVs, nothing similar exists related to the dismantling of EVs. I would suggest as an industry, we have it within our gift to generate a best practice guide.
- Research conducted by the Faraday Institution concludes that unless there is significant and immediate investment into UK EV battery production, the opportunity to be a key player in that market will be lost. This would leave the UK dependent on overseas for EV battery supply. I foresee there is a significant opportunity for our industry to recycle EV batteries, which will potentially be in high demand and short supply. However, there are currently no official guidelines or industry standards on what level of damage dictates the battery should be returned to the manufacturer or what makes it suitable for recycling. As an industry, we need to be vocal about this.
- It is equally concerning that currently an appropriate salvage category EV can be sold at auction, with no requirement for a buyer to produce a certificate of competency to work with a vehicle powered by volatile lithium-ion batteries. Guidelines are needed to ensure public safety and avoid potential liability.
These challenges, and others that may emerge, are not insurmountable; they simply reflect new market conditions and with that, new opportunities for our industry and our individual organisations.
At e2e, we have included EV protocols in our Member’s Agreement and Minimum Standards Annual Audit to assist our members and ensure consistency across the network. These cover training & competence; access and adherence to manufacturer information; recovery protocols; use of appropriate PPE; damage inspection; damage recording & seeking expert advice; vehicle shut down requirements; storage and moving the vehicle.
In my recent ATF Pro webinar where I discussed the implications of Brexit, I proposed the formation of a working group, made up of committed representatives from across the market, with a remit to work as a collective to raise a united and consistently professional, environmental and economic profile for salvage and recycling, build influential relationships to help open the right doors and support the great work being done by the VRA. Perhaps the industry’s response to EVs would make a good platform for the working group to cut its teeth?
If you are interested in participating, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org