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At TEC Equipment, the west coast’s leading full-service truck dealership, we’ve witnessed the automotive industry change and grow with the continuous evolution of electric vehicle technology. Now that this technology is beginning to arrive in the heavy-duty vehicle sector, it’s time to ask—how can TEC Equipment, and dealerships nationwide, prepare to service and support these advanced vehicles?
As a trusted sales and service partner for fleets, there are seemingly endless factors to take into consideration—comprehensive training requirements, unique safety concerns, infrastructure upgrades, sourcing and ordering new parts, and facility expansions to adequately service electric trucks.
Now that this technology is beginning to arrive in the heavy-duty sector, it’s time to ask—how can dealerships prepare to service and support these advanced vehicles?
One word that consistently comes to mind is transition. Formally defined as, “The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another,” the word transition captures the full extent of what will be required of the transportation industry. Let’s break it down as it relates to preparing for electric vehicle technology.
Timing – Are there policies and incentives in your region that are accelerating electric truck market development and creating a new opportunity for your dealership to tap into? Is your dealership management team ready and willing to take on the new responsibility of offering electric truck sales and service?
Relationships – Have you asked your customers about their plans for the future as it applies to purchasing, implementing, and deploying electric trucks? Do you know what main goals, concerns, and priorities are driving their purchasing decisions? Are your customers thinking about fuel cost savings, concerned with driver retention, or motivated by corporate sustainability goals?
Availability – When are the vehicle models that your dealership sells going to be commercially available as battery electric vehicles? Are there opportunities for your dealership to take part in any early demonstration projects with OEMs? For example, TEC Equipment is participating in the Volvo LIGHTS project, a collaboration to commercialize heavy-duty battery electric trucks. Fleet operators will have the opportunity to lease battery electric trucks from two of our Southern California dealerships for real-world trials.
Nominate – Find out who within your dealership is informed and passionate about electric vehicles and get them involved. There is no time like the present to form a dedicated committee within your dealership to dive into research, talk to key stakeholders including customers, OEMs, your local utility, funding agencies, and formulate a plan.
Form a dedicated committee within your dealership to dive into research, talk to key stakeholders, and formulate a plan.
Set Up – Providing sales and service for electric trucks will require you to make some changes to your physical space. You’ll need to plan for where you will park the trucks to ensure easy and safe access to charging, how you will configure your maintenance bays to accommodate additional equipment, where you will store the necessary service parts, and more.
Incentives – Ensure your staff is knowledgeable about the many federal, state and regional funding opportunities available for deploying zero emission vehicles, including whether fleet operators can “stack” incentives and rebates to reduce the cost of purchasing vehicles and installing infrastructure. Beyond funding from public agencies, ensure you have asked your local utility about the additional incentives they offer.
Training – You can never take safety too seriously, especially with electric drivetrains and charging infrastructure. It may be easy to underestimate the hazards associated with the high voltage systems of electric-powered trucks. Properly training technicians and maintenance staff now will help you better prepare for new and advanced technical and safety requirements in the future. Though the manufacturers may have, or are working on, training curriculum, it is worthwhile to reach out to your local technical trade schools as some of them already have electric vehicle training programs (e.g, Rio Hondo College and San Bernardino Valley College in Los Angeles).
Properly training technicians and maintenance staff now will help you better prepare for new and advanced technical and safety requirements in the future.
Infrastructure – Where to start! You cannot service electric trucks without charging sources—and installation is no simple process. Begin now by working with your local municipality and electric company on the necessary infrastructure upgrades and requirements as we’ve found this process alone can take several months.
Open Mind – As with all major transitions, you will inevitably encounter obstacles, and some will be harder to overcome than others. The key will be for the collective groups within your dealership or committee to maintain an open mind, continue to address challenges head on, and embrace the fact that all changes come with some challenges.
Nothing – Finally, know that maintaining the status quo is an optional response to the arrival of electric trucks in our industry. However, if you choose to do nothing now, you may find it next to impossible to meet the needs of your customers in the very near future. Do you really want to give your competitors this advantage?
These are just a few of the many factors TEC Equipment, and all full-service dealerships, need to take into consideration when preparing for a transition to electric truck technology. Addressing each of the concerns above will help you to better utilize resources and more effectively plan for the future while enabling you to continue providing exceptional service to your customers.