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New Course Launched To Help Mechanics Keep Up With EV Demand

More and more electric vehicles (EVs) are cruising Manawatū streets – but just like any other vehicle, they still need to pop into the shop for tune-ups and maintenance. Manawatū’s mechanics are gearing up for the electric vehicle evolution, and UCOL is launching a new programme to help them keep EVs in top shape.

Automotive engineering student David Gooch working on one of UCOL’s hybrid vehicles

The New Zealand Certificate in Electric Vehicle Automotive Engineering (Level 5) is designed to help mechanics build their skills and knowledge for diagnosing, repairing, and maintaining electric and hybrid vehicles.

“The big franchises are able to handle their own, but this programme is about supporting wider industry, especially our local ‘mum and dad’ shops,” says Senior Lecturer – Automotive, Lance Furnell.

“A lot of garages are a bit nervous around EVs – they want to do a great job but the set-up is quite different.

“Otago Polytechnic developed the programme and have had great success with it over the last two years. We chatted to them, and immediately headed out to our stakeholders to see what they’d think of us bringing it here. They loved the idea, so we got things rolling!”

The Ministry of Transport shows more than 1,000 light electric vehicles are registered in the Manawatū and Whanganui region. Registrations have been growing over the last 10 years, with 395 registrations coming in 2021 alone. Across the country there are more than 37,000 EVs registered.

Motivating some of this growth is the Government’s various legislation changes to benefit a cleaner New Zealand – include EV rebates of up to $8,000, and the fact that EVs are exempt from paying road user charges until 2024. It’s expected that EVs will only get more common over the coming years.

Given that the course is designed for auto technicians who are already working full time, the programme will be taught online, so they can develop their skills at home and work. They’ll then only need to attend a couple of two to four day block courses.

Furnell says there will be plenty of great things in the UCOL shop for when learners are on-site.

“We’re thrilled with the backing from our partners – our workshop now has a Nissan Leaf ready as our training car, some of UCOL’s own hybrid fleet vehicles, and a brand new Prius thanks to our long-term relationship with Toyota.

“We’ve had strong interest already - apprentices are telling us that it’s really cool to be able to learn this, and their bosses are just as pleased to get these kinds of skills in their team.”

There are a few places left on the next course intake, which starts on the 14 February.



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