MSOs continue readying, responding as more consumers turn to EVs

June 29, 2021
Most shops have been adapting to hybrid electric vehicles for the past decade, but the shift to battery electric vehicles is right around the corner. So how does an MSO ready everyone for what's to come?
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The way Jeff Brewer sees it, the Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution is marching forward quickly and will have a larger impact on automotive history than most people realize. “It’s probably the most significant change to our industry in decades,” said Brewer, director of OEM certifications, Caliber Collision.

While most shops have been adapting to Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) for the past decade, the accelerated shift to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) is nothing short of extraordinary, even surprising Brewer, a member of Caliber’s EV Task Force who has frequently turned to a BEV as his daily driver over the years.

“When we started analyzing all the data and seeing some of the industry `tipping points’ on EVs such as enhanced affordability and increased charging ranges, Caliber began to realize this was not a trend 20 or 30 years out.

This trend is right around the corner,” he said.

So how does an MSO with 1,200+ locations across the United States ready everyone for this trend?

“It starts with our teammates,” Brewer said. “We have been observing EVs since the 2000’s, however when it really accelerated the last few years, our organization quickly pivoted and developed a dedicated team and strategy to prepare our teammates and centers for BEVs.”

The solution?

“This is a secular event in our industry and Caliber recognized we had to have a unique, individual approach. We provided our teammates with the right training and tools so they were set up for success when the first EV came into one of our centers. Caliber’s purpose is Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life and for every customer we serve, we repair their vehicle back to pre-accident condition as quickly as we can. That is no different with an EV.” 

Safety at the core 

“At the core of EV repairs, or any repair, is safety,” he added. “Caliber has a rigorous repair process to ensure the quality of the work, and each car is inspected by two managers before handing the keys back to the customer. There is no `soft start’, or grace period with EV repairs.” 

At first glance, Minnesota may not appear to be a hotbed of EV repairs, but rest assured pockets of the state are humming, explained Darrell Amberson, president of operations for LaMettry’s and also chair of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC). 

The pace has been steady, beginning several years ago when LaMettry’s became Tesla-Certified. Today, LaMettry’s Eden Prairie location, its busiest EV repair location, will perform approximately 20 to 25 repairs a week. 

“EVs are more and more commonplace, and technicians are not as intimidated by them,” he said. “In many ways, they look forward to these types of repairs.”

Ongoing education 

Safety, equipment and training are just some of the considerations that go into each location’s EV readiness. “The ongoing education is paramount to success,” said Amberson, who also serves on Ford Motor Company’s OE Certification Advisory Board. 

Dallas Clark, director of collision, Hendrick Automotive Group, echoes similar feelings. “We have hundreds of certifications as a Gold Class shop across 23 locations, with many EV certifications and many OEM EV-specific training certifications.

Like many repair organizations, Hendrick Automotive Group has several years of experience with HEVs, so the expansion to BEVs has been a natural extension that continues to grow exponentially. 

Clark has seen the growth first-hand; one of the local gas stations that’s on his route to work recently installed 19 Tesla charging stations. 

“It’s (EV trend) coming – maybe to the large metro areas first – but it’s definitely coming. 

And Hendrick Collision Centers are prepared, he said. “We’re not gonna wait for it [the EV trend] to surpass us; we’re gonna be ready,” he said. 

It’s that philosophy that transcends Hendrick’s business model for success. “We’re always looking forward,” he said. “I-CAR has pushed us to be better; to repair it right, every single time.”

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