What it takes to service battery electric trucks

What it takes to service battery electric trucks

Investing in battery-electric trucks and infrastructure are just the beginning of electrifying your fleet, Volvo has experience taking shops through the rest of the EV journey.

Sponsored by Volvo

Outfitting your fleet with battery-electric trucks and charging infrastructure are only two of the steps in the electrification journey. Those hard-working commercial EVs will also need service to maintain the same level of customer satisfaction and uptime as their internal combustion engine counterparts. Fleets will need a shop that’s prepared to perform planned and unplanned service safely. High-voltage batteries contain large amounts of energy that can cause severe electrical shocks, burns or even death if not properly handled. Proper training, technology and shop structure are necessary to perform the work and to save lives.

So where do you start?

You can look to a shop that already has the EV service know-how. Consider Volvo Trucks North America’s network of over 60 EV-certified dealers in the U.S. and Canada, spanning 31 states and provinces. And Young Trucks in Canton, Ohio, was an early EV service adopter. 

“Everyone in the entire dealership had to go through a safety training on the electric trucks. We had two techs go off site to learn how to commission and decommission trucks,” said Ryan Young, President of Young Trucks, who noted that he wanted to make an investment in EV charging, but weighed his options. “We had 208 (volts???) power, and so we had to upgrade the transformer to get up to 480 volts in order to use the battery charger. We have the smallest one you can charge a truck with as a 50 kW charger.”

The charger is portable, providing early EV days flexibility for Young Trucks that also runs a body shop and could need to move the charger around depending on the type of service work that is being done on the truck.

Speaking of service work, Young’s comment about decommissioning trucks refers to the important procedure of draining the battery of power and disconnecting the battery system from the vehicle to make it safe to work on. Young adds that like diesel trucks, EVs have other systems that need work, such as repairing or replacing motors on small components, like windshield wipers.

Of course, every technician needs tools. In addition to insulated personal protective gear like gloves, jackets and boots, everything from basic tools like screwdrivers, socket sets, and specialty equipment, need to be properly insulated. When working on high-voltage components like batteries, capacitors and other parts of energy storage systems, these insulated tools and gear help to stop powerful electrical currents from reaching the technician.

Another concern to address when shifting your shop to electrification is knowing how to handle an EV battery fire. If a lithium battery pack starts to burn, it can produce oxygen and add fuel to the fire. Not only does this make it difficult to put out, but also means the fire can more easily reignite. Shops should have dedicated EV bays and proper firewalls to keep flames from spreading as long as possible. Fire blankets are another safety tool that is easy to have on hand that can help contain a fire until it can be put out.

As you might imagine, with all of these new tools, techniques and safety measures, come new insurance requirements, as well. Should an issue happen when working on a car, you want to make sure your shop is covered.

A lot to take in, but Volvo has experience helping fleets get ready to take on the uphill climb of electrification. Click here to learn more.

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