UK Group Training Independent Garages to Service Hybrids
One of the lingering concerns with hybrids has been the tricky subject of maintenance. While many owners may have mentally kicked this can down the road, some hybrids will start to enter the used car market nearing, or past their warranty expiration. So what is a hybrid owner to do when service is required? The simple answer would be to bring the vehicle to a dealership, but for a used car, this could prove costly. Early presumptions were that dealers would be the only folks able to work on their own hybrids, and thus could charge whatever they liked. But according to a report out of the UK, more and more independent garages are now qualified to work on these alternative powertrains. PHOTOS: See Photos of the 2005 Honda Insight The UK’s Independent Garage Association has administered hybrid awareness courses for over 1,000 garages. Many of the procedures are considered “routine,” but a key component of the training is understanding the various high-voltage components of a hybrid system.
With 25,000 hybrids on the road, the British car market is the fourth largest in the world, behind Japan, the U.S. and France. UK laws are such that car owners are not obligated to bring their vehicle to a dealer. According to the website TrustMyGarage, 70% of UK drivers surveyed would prefer to bring their new vehicle to an independent garage.
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Will we see a similar trend in the U.S.? Dealer networks are strong here, and many drivers feel safe bringing their car to the dealership. However, repair is one of the dealer’s main source of revenue. The proliferation of independent garages with hybrid maintenance capability could potentially open up the market, thus lowering repair costs. Time will tell if that rings true.