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On the Road

Watch: How electrification changes truck service

David Sickels is the Associate Editor of Tire Review and Fleet Equipment magazines. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

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Electric trucks aren’t yet commonplace on our roads, but it won’t be long for us to reach a time when technicians will need to be prepared with a whole new set of skills to maintain them.

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Click here to watch more of FE’s On the Road video series.

Here is a transcript of the video:

Widespread electrification isn’t…quite…here yet, but even the most skeptical observers would have to agree that it’s about to shake up what we know about trucking.

And when electric trucks do become more commonplace, fleets will need to be ready to shake up what they know about maintenance, too.

That’s because in these vehicles, the largest maintenance item, the engine, has been replaced by motors and inverters that require a different technician skill set. It’s one thing to repair internal combustion engines fueled by diesel, and it’s something entirely different to dive into an electric motor fueled by over 600 volts of traction voltage.

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Today, most technicians have had little to no exposure to the operation of a battery electric vehicle – and that’s not a knock on technicians, either. They simply haven’t needed to know, and are likely focusing on what is making their company money today.

In some ways, maintaining a battery electric vehicle is greatly simplified over a mechanical gas- or diesel-powered system, since the internal combustion engine, aftertreatment, exhaust, fuel systems and filters are no longer present.

But, that doesn’t mean maintenance is easy. Scheduled inspection items for an EV include the electro-hydraulic steering pump; air compressor; cabling; connectors; radiator and hoses; front steer and rear drive axle; and brakes and wheel-ends. All of these components must continue to undergo their regularly scheduled maintenance practices as well.

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In addition to being trained on a new set of skills, technicians will likely need to have access to new tools, including equipment to protect themselves from high voltage that might not have been necessary before. And for safety reasons, the time-honored methods of experimental troubleshooting should not be allowed on high voltage systems.

Whether you’re running your own shop or working with a shop under contract maintenance, the service location will need to be prepared for an electric truck long before one ever enters its bays. Preparing your staff of technicians to tackle this technology is one step you’ll want to be sure to take if you’re thinking about taking the plunge into electrification.

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