The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has been working closely with the Malaysian government to provide training support across a network of community colleges focusing on electric and hybrid vehicles, in line with the country’s aim to be a regional energy-efficient vehicle (EEV) hub.

One of these is the Kepala Batas Community College, which has equipped more than 230 EEV candidates with IMI’s international qualifications to date.

IMI South-East Asia senior manager Matthew Stuart said IMI has identified a skills issue in the EEV industry and believes it is a major obstacle that needs to be looked at urgently.

“Many countries have been actively pursuing the green agenda and encouraging drivers to switch to electric cars.

“In addition to ensuring the infrastructure is ready and available, the country’s government also has the responsibility to make sure that drivers can afford to make that switch,” he said.

Stuart added that there is a lot more to be done as the introduction of such vehicles in the market gains momentum, and that the IMI is committed to bridge the skills gap in the rapidly evolving automotive industry.

Meanwhile, research conducted on behalf of IMI showed while 40% of the public in the United Kingdom (UK) have grave concerns about air pollution and see Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) as a solution, they are unwilling or unable to pay the increased insurance premiums currently levied on these cars.

As a result, they will not consider buying or leasing one in the near future.

Insurers in the UK charge up to 50% more to cover electric and hybrid cars because of the higher purchase price and the current lack of skilled technicians available to repair them.

Currently, only 1% of mechanics have the necessary qualifications to carry out work on the high-voltage systems of ULEVs and they are almost exclusively employed within franchised dealers.

Besides that, the research also said the public is similarly concerned with the lack of charging points available to service electric and hybrid cars.

However, while the UK government is supporting the development of charging infrastructure to promote clean cars, it continues to resist any intervention in the market to deal with the skills gap.

“The government has to recognise that the skills gaps need to be addressed.

“Small businesses are uncertain about future demand for work on electric cars and will not risk investing in skills they need to service these cars if the government does not contribute in this,” said IMI CEO Steve Nash.

He also said high insurance and servicing costs will continue to be a hindrance for drivers, and consequently, car buyers will still be attracted to diesel cars as the most cost effective alternative, keeping a significant number on the roads for decades to come.

The electric car survey was conducted by Vital Research and Statistics, who polled 2,000 UK adults with driving licenses.

Only 17% of respondents thought the extra costs for insurance for ULEVs were a price worth paying for; 18 to 24 year olds were more willing to pay higher insurance costs and only 9% of those over 55 years old would pay the extra cost.


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