Guest Column | January 23, 2023

3 Reasons Why Maintenance Providers Are Preparing For Electric Trucks

By Emily Newton, Revolutionized


As people begin embracing electric vehicles (EVs), it’s becoming more common to hear about the deployment of electric trucks. If you’re a fleet manager considering using them soon, now is the time to ensure your maintenance providers have the knowledge they’ll need to service these vehicles efficiently and capably. Here are some specific reasons professionals need to learn about electric-powered trucks and how they differ from gas-powered versions.

1. Updated Facilities And Maintenance Measures

The people responsible for servicing these trucks will likely need to upgrade their shops and check for different things when assessing the vehicles. For example, mechanics must use insulated tools when working EVs. Relatedly, repair shops need insulated lift tables to move batteries. Many don’t have on-site vehicle chargers, but they’ll need them to restore a truck’s power source after performing maintenance.

The maintenance steps also will change. For example, technicians will need to examine the high-voltage cables and wiring connectors for corrosion.

Today’s auto repair shops often give customers deals on oil changes. That’s a smart move because all gas-powered vehicles need them. However, as EVs become more popular, you may start to see service providers offering tire-change discounts because drivers have noticed faster wearing.

They’ve also budgeted more for tires. EVs are heavier than their gas-powered counterparts, and tires with higher weight ratings are a bit more expensive. However, energy-efficient tires also give electric trucks a longer range. Technicians can set fleet owner expectations by explaining how costs might increase, but other maintenance expenses will go down.

The reduced maintenance requirements are a major EV selling point. Regenerative braking capabilities make the brake systems last comparatively longer. The vehicles also have fewer fluids to maintain regularly, and the engine contains fewer moving parts.

However, repair shop managers that buy EV parts must check compatibility with the models they service. It’s also necessary to research what kind of maintenance the component requires and perform it as needed. Then, if it fails prematurely, it’s easier to diagnose whether that was due to a product flaw or a wider system failure.

2. The Availability Of Subscription-Based Plans

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry proved instrumental in making it easier for customers to get the products they need at affordable prices. Plus, people could download the latest versions as providers made them available. As-a-service offerings have become more diverse, too. Robots-as-a-service companies give clients access to advanced machines without the high up-front costs. People could update their fleets with electric vehicles in the same way.

Numerous companies specialize in helping people use EVs through subscription maintenance plans. Rivian is an electric vehicle startup that offers pickup trucks and may earn $15,500 per vehicle over 10 years by selling subscriptions. Diagnostics encompass some of those additional services.

More customers are trying electric vehicles through subscriptions, and the trend could reshape maintenance operations. Technicians may need to rearrange their schedules to prioritize subscribers. Pinpointing a problem might also partially involve relying on an automaker’s diagnostic data. Mack Trucks offers a subscription for a battery-electric refuse truck that includes all corrective and preventive maintenance, plus battery monitoring and roadside assistance.

What’s The Future Of Electric Trucks And Maintenance-Driven Subscriptions?

Mechanics might give more standardized services to cater to customers on subscription plans, particularly as such offerings become more widely available. Imagine if an EV manufacturer offers a subscription tier that guarantees 30-point seasonal tune-ups within a week of customers requesting them. Hundreds of people in a given city may have those plans, so an auto shop manager may need to substantially alter scheduling practices to ensure all subscribers have their vehicles serviced within the promised time frame.

Providers may mandate that only specially trained mechanics at designated shops perform subscription maintenance services. Part of the research process would involve checking that the locations where fleets operate have enough service stations available.

Fleet owners and maintenance providers should consider if it makes sense for them to learn more about subscription-based EV plans. Since they’re becoming more popular but are not yet widespread, the best option may be to see if and how the market evolves.

3. The Growing Popularity Of Electric Trucks

Electric trucks are still not common. China has most of those vehicles registered, but the total number of new registrants in 2020 was less than 7,000. There were only 240 registrations in the United States that year. However, Wood Mackenzie analysts believe people will start seeing more of these vehicles soon. They estimate U.S. roads will feature more than 54,000 electric-powered trucks by 2025.

Elsewhere, climate and energy research from nonprofit RMI revealed significant electrification potential for current trucks. The data showed that 65% of medium-duty and 49% of heavy-duty trucks have electrification potential.

It also helps that established organizations increasingly use and choose these automobiles. The U.S. Postal Service will have 66,000 electric vehicles by 2028. Coca-Cola and Pepsi also invest in electric fleets to ship their popular beverages.

Charging points for trucks remain much less common than those for cars, but things are moving in the right direction. In 2021, Volvo Group signed an agreement to install and operate at least 1,700 stations for buses and heavy-duty trucks within five years.

Charging Points As A Repair Shop Revenue Driver?

Fleet owners will be more open to using electric trucks if they know their drivers can charge them easily. People are especially interested in where to place charging points for the best adoption rates. Researchers learned valuable things by examining how trucks of all kinds currently operate and where they stop.

A team studied the GPS coordinates of 400,000 trucks operating in Europe over a year. The findings indicated that 10% of places vehicles stop most often account for about half of their overall stops. People involved in the research advocate for installing charging stations at the most popular truck stops. That’s an excellent starting point.

However, truck service stations represent other opportunities. Repair shop managers could put their charging points in accessible areas, then charge people a modest fee to use them at any time of the day or night. Truck drivers might even book appointments through an app to ensure they can recharge at the most convenient times.

This option allows a service station to continue making a profit outside of business hours. It could also become a differentiator in a market where fleet owners can choose between numerous service providers.

Fleet Owners And Maintenance Professionals Must Adapt

Electric trucks will likely become a decisive part of the world’s numerous strategies to become more sustainable. Using them requires making changes, whether you own a fleet or work in truck maintenance. These points show some of the ways upkeep is already changing. Other differences will eventually become apparent too, and professionals should stay abreast of them and remain prepared to adapt.

About The Author

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly explores the impact technology has on the industrial sector.