EVfriendly, a new industry-led program addresses the issues of safety, training, and consumer confidence in the transition to zero-emission vehicles in Canada.
by Kara Cunningham
On the July/August edition, Tow Canada introduced the EVfriendly program and the growing need for training designed to give tow and recovery professionals the necessary knowledge and skills to safely handle, store, and manage zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).1
In It’s Time to Become EVfriendly (Part 1)2, Tow Canada explored two incidents involving burning EVs in North America, one that occurred in North Vancouver, B.C., and one that occurred in Sacramento, California. Mitchell Martin, owner of Mitchell’s Towing Ltd., commented on these cases while sharing his extensive experience and expertise. He also credited the EVfriendly program and British Columbia Institute of Technology’s (BCIT’s ) electric vehicle service technician course with providing the training that he and his staff needed to safely handle EVs.
For those who missed Part 1, EVfriendly is an industry-led program (ZEV Alliance3), sponsored by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation and developed by the Automotive Retailers Association (ARA) to help address issues of safety, training, and consumer confidence in the transition to zero-emission vehicles in Canada. At the end of Part 1, Tow Canada promised to deliver more details about this timely and accessible program.
“Educating your operators about the hazards these vehicles pose and enrolling them in EV-specific training will help keep them safe. EVs are safe, and fires and other hazards associated with their recovery are rare, provided the operator observes proper handling and storage procedures,” said Ken Hendricks, senior industry advisor with the ARA and senior EVfriendly project manager.
“The ARA has done a fantastic job of putting their program together,” said Martin. “It is available online, and you don’t have to be from B.C. to take the course.”
"Educating your operators about the hazards these vehicles pose and enrolling them in EV-specific training will help keep them safe.”
The EVfriendly program offers two levels—both the operator and the business can obtain certification. An employee can go online, complete the modules, and receive certification, and an employer can also obtain EVfriendly certification for their business. To do this, every employee must be certified. “Once you obtain certification for your business,” said Hendricks, “you can utilize the EVfriendly brand to assure customers that you and your employees are trained and qualified to tow and store EVs in a responsible and safe manner.”
The EVfriendly program is highly accessible, and it takes about an hour and a half. “The course was developed for online delivery because it needs to be a practical, especially given the high turnover in the industry,” said Hendricks. “When new people come on board, they can’t wait six months for the next class. There is some reading and a lot of video and narration, and there are graphics to illustrate what’s going on. There are also some interviews with towers. You will walk away from the course understanding these vehicles better and knowing how to handle yourself around them.”
About the burning Teslas featured in It’s Time to Become EVfriendly (Part 1), Hendricks stated: “We are going to see more and more of these cases. This incident might seem a bit isolated, but as we transition to a 100% electric vehicle fleet, we are going to see more of this. You have to know how to handle yourself around these vehicles. You have to understand what the high-voltage components are, and you have to know how to properly secure the battery and disconnect it. These batteries are up to 400 volts. We have to start taking precautions now, build a foundation, and get people trained. That’s what EVfriendly is all about.”
The ZEV Alliance
The ZEV Alliance is a group of industry stakeholders that was formed to provide input on the development of the EVfriendly program and to assist with its implementation. Members include:
- Automotive Retailers Association
- Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation
- Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
- Ministry of Environment
- Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness
- Insurance Corporation of British Columbia
- British Columbia Automobile Association
- Industry Training Authority
- Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association
- Victoria Electric Vehicle Club
- The automotive recycling industry
- The automotive service and repair
- The automotive collision repair industry
- The automotive towing industry
- The licensed motor dealer industry 6
“The EVfriendly program provides a database with knowledge and relevant information,” said Martin. “At Mitchell’s Towing, we have been a Tesla service provider since the company’s conception, so we regularly get PDFs from Tesla on towing procedure changes. We get a lot of information packages from different roadside assistance companies and EV manufacturers on how to tow, relocate, and jumpstart the electrical system. But some companies are not a part of this network and don’t have the ability to tap into this information. The EVfriendly program does a really great job of tying all the information together, including best practices.”
According to both the government and the ZEV Alliance, now is the time to get involved. The EVfriendly program is new and innovative, and it is gaining attention from a lot of different organizations. “People are watching now what’s happening in B.C., and they’re using B.C. as that model of what they want to build,” said Hendricks. “We are North American leaders, both in terms of sales per capita and in the measures that we’ve taken as an industry to provide a sustainable market.”
As Hendricks pointed out, EVs aren’t going anywhere, and the writing is on the wall. With fuel prices soaring and a federal mandate requiring that all new passenger vehicles sold be 100% electric by 2035, the future of EVs in Canada has never seemed more secure, and the market is growing fast.4 According to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, “The number of electric vehicles on B.C. roads alone has increased by 1,600% in the past six years as a result of the province’s CleanBC Go Electric programs.”
"With fuel prices soaring and a federal mandate requiring that all new passenger vehicles sold be 100% electric by 2035, the future of EVs in Canada has never seemed more secure.”
Sooner or later all these EVs are going to need attention. Qualified industry professionals will be increasingly needed to sell, service, repair, tow, and recycle zero-emissions electric vehicles in a responsible and safe manner. If you are an automotive service provider, now is the time to invest in the necessary equipment and training to service EVs. The future is now. It’s time to become EVfriendly.
The ARA has also launched EVfriendly On the Go, a podcast hosted by Hendricks himself, where automotive service professionals explore the world of EVs, the electrification of transportation, and what this means for both the automotive industry and consumers over the entire life cycle of a vehicle.5 Guest experts will include auto recyclers, collision repair specialists, mechanical repairers, tow and recovery professionals, and more.
Find EVfriendly On the Go, on the EVfriendly YouTube channel. The audio version is available on Spotify, iTunes, or Google Podcasts. You can also subscribe to the EVfriendly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube channels to receive the latest information about EVs.