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The Queensland Motor Traders Association is training mechanics for the new era of electric vehicles

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Queensland Motor Traders Association (MTAQ) is the peak body representing more than 1500 companies across Queensland. I recently spoke with Chief Executive Officer Rod Camm Group about the challenges and opportunities for Australia, and particularly for automotive workers, during this transition to electric vehicles.

Rod is from the skills industry and comes from leadership experience. With unprecedented skills shortages being felt both here and abroad, rapid change is needed. Industrial training models are necessary to ensure that the system can keep pace with the current significant advances in technology. The automotive industry is perhaps at a revolutionary turning point for the first time, and skills will be key to unlocking our future potential.

MTAQ represents the automotive industry to government and the wider business community. One of the main services is the training of students (up to 2500 per year) and additional training of qualified specialists. In addition to education in established technologies, MTAQ educates people in emerging technologies of the 21st century. As you might expect, electric cars play a big role here. Health and safety in the workplace is paramount.

Additional training is offered in the safe handling of batteries, as well as air conditioning and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). MTAQ operates a “Centre of Excellence” for training and also attends workshops for commercial training.

A typical training group can be made up of a range of demographics – age, experience and professions – but women make up only 4% of technicians. Most of the participants are mechanics, but there are also auto electricians, panelists, and operators.

Those working in dealerships have had some exposure to electrified vehicles (HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs) through OEMs, but independent mechanics don’t see many of them yet. They are preparing. Rod managed to acquire a number of electric cars to show his interns, including Tesla, Hyundai, Toyota and Mitsubishi vehicles. He is looking forward to showing his students the BYD Atto 3 later this year.

Industry sources say that so far they are seeing and repairing mostly hybrids. This is to be expected since they have been on the market for quite some time. I asked if there were any particular problems with the BEV and he pointed out the problems the Tesla had with the ball joints (mine had to be replaced under warranty, I understand). He attributes the problem to additional wear and tear from the vehicle’s weight and torque.

“Australia has been slow to roll out electric vehicles, but I see this as an opportunity for us to both get it right and catch up quickly if we get the national plan right. I keep a close eye on what the UK and leading European countries such as Norway are going through. We have a chance to avoid the mistakes made in other countries, this is our opportunity. The need to homogenise charging and payment options, ensuring that the national grid is built around fast chargers and leveraging the location of modern automotive assets such as service stations are good examples.”

MTAQ is one of the leading associations offering training in such future technologies. It has been appreciated ever since we need our traditions.


 

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