Otago Polytechnic

It's all very well buying and driving an electric vehicle, but who's going to fix it when a problem develops?

New Zealanders are increasingly adopting electric vehicles, and there is going to be a corresponding need for technicians who are trained to correctly and safely fix any problems that arise with the vehicles. The change to electric vehicles represents a paradigm shift for automotive technicians, similar to the change when electronics became standard in vehicles.

Kevin O'Neill, a Senior Lecturer in Automotive Engineering, is conducting research into what can go wrong with your electric vehicle, how the cause of a problem can be diagnosed,  and how the problem should then be fixed. Because an electric vehicle's system is high voltage, Kevin is drawing on the experience of our Electrical Engineering department also.  Safety is critical to protect the technicians as well as the users of each repaired vehicle, but repairs also need to be carried out efficiently to minimise the servicing costs for consumers.

Kevin is creating diagnostic strategies for repair of all the various types and makes of electric vehicles in New Zealand and for the New Zealand regulatory environment, including:

  • How to identify a fault without opening up the high voltage system
  • How to go into the system safely if that's necessary, eg to remove a battery pack
  • How to reinstate the system after repair or replacement of a component

Kevin's colleagues are helping implement the results of this research into teaching and assessment curriculum for electric vehicle servicing. They are also working with MITO (the Motor Industry Training Organisation) to create a pilot programme to standardise electric vehicle repair and ensure high standards are maintained in the automotive sector.

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TECHNOLOGY & DESIGN

September 2018