A new report from Trend Tracker has captured discussions from a recent cross-industry group, setting out the scale of the task for the motor insurance industry as it gears up for the government’s 2030 Road to Zero.
The report: ‘Electric Vehicles (EV), What Happens When Things Go Wrong,’ presents the outcomes from the cross-industry group brought together by Chris Weeks, executive director of the National Body Repair Association, and Kirsty McKno, managing director of Cogent Hire, and who spoke at the recent ATF Professional Conference.
Chris Weeks said:
“We want to collaborate across the industry and build awareness, find solutions, and make recommendations that will hopefully ensure that the Road to Zero is maintained with safety at its core.”
“EV / AFV (alternative fuelled vehicles) are not necessarily any more unsafe than ICE (internal combustion engines), but whereas the industry has had more than 100 years to develop experience and understanding of ICE, EV/AFV are relatively new.”
However, they are the fastest growing part of the vehicle parc and set to replace new vehicles as part of the Road to Zero strategy by 2030. Official figures show that manufacturers are committing at least £10.8 billion to EV and battery R&D and production in the UK while British factories have produced a quarter of a million electric cars, vans, buses and trucks since 2011.
In April alone, more than one-in-four (26.4%) cars produced by UK car makers was electrified, boosted by battery electric vehicle (BEV) output up 38.2%, meaning one-in-10 cars made was powered purely by electricity.
There are now more than 150 models of plug-in cars and vans on sale in Britain and, while globally BEV sales doubled in 2021, the UK had its best ever year with more electric cars registered than over the previous five years combined. BEV registrations have surged more than 70% to 92,512 this year and, by year end, they are expected to take 16.8% of the UK car market, equivalent to one in seven sales.’
Despite this soaring growth, the group discussed how easy it was to set up a recovery business; with no qualifications, being exempt from most regulations- concluding the industry needs greater regulation. They also noted that some organisations are putting large batteries in recovery vans to provide short charge to EVs that have broken down; they are not EVs but need to be handled carefully as a result. Damaged EVs are dangerous goods.
Another concern highlighted was the conversion to EVs from existing ICE vehicles. There is little or no legislation to deal with adding used batteries to convert vehicles. Government needs to legislate; manufacturers need to educate and ensure safety standards and insurers need to understand the risks they cover
“It should really be against the law to work on these vehicles without the required accreditation, methods, and skills. An EV is fine when you are driving it, but when it crashes, it is then a dangerous good.”
Kirsty Mckno said that a number of bodies are exploring commons standards for EV, including the ABI and Thatcham, but at present, there is no single approach through from VM and underwriter, first response, recovery, repair and salvage to end of life. She said:
“EVs may ignite up to 4 weeks post-accident, which means that having a consistent standard is vital to industry and consumer safety.
We support the aim to increase EV/AFV within the parc and we don’t believe EV are any less safe than ICE; it is knowledge of how to deal with an EV/AFV when they go wrong that we lack.
The supply chain processes and rules need to change. This is about asset and customer safety. We also look to the insurers to fundamentally change how they price, underwrite, insure and service these vehicles. Within all areas of claims management there is a need to ensure that FNOL staff are properly trained to manage the specific requirements of EV/AFV post-incident.”
Kirsty said the group shared a concern that unless these issues are addressed, with better education and standards across the entire supply chain it could be detrimental to the Road to Zero ambitions.
“Clearly the industry needs to invest in approvals, tooling, additional space requirements and technical skills. That means alternative fuelled vehicles will cost more to repair, but consumers will not want to pay more for insurance, particularly not in this cost of living crisis.”
Chris Weeks concluded:
“Our aim is to understand what happens when things go wrong and how, as an industry, we can help service the Road to Zero. To be there, safely and educated to help customers in their times of need – to return the vehicle to as safe as it was prior to the accident. By coming together as a group, we can improve awareness now and on a continued basis to deliver this.”
About the report
The report ‘Electric vehicles – What happens when things go wrong’ is free to view via the Trend Tracker website.