Preparing For Hybrids

Unless you're living under a rock, you've seen the recent sales spikes for hybrid vehicles. And unless that rock is within walking distance of everything, you can appreciate why your customers are looking for the added fuel efficiency these vehicles offer.

Now, it should be stated that while there have been significant sales increases, hybrid vehicles still represent less than 5 percent of all vehicles currently on the road. However, these cars will need service, and most owners will look no further than the dealership from which they bought it.

So if you're on the independent side of automotive repair, here are some simple things you can do to be competitive in capturing this business.

1. Training. It is available for independent shops through a number of training outfits, including a video offered by AVI (
2. Safety equipment. With significantly more voltage flowing through the systems of these vehicles, experts would recommend that technicians are equipped with high-voltage rubber gloves rated at 1,000 volts or higher, as well as face shields and full-body aprons.
3. Tools. Again, the higher voltages will have the biggest impact. Specifically, this means having hand tools that are insulated enough to protect the user. Tools for testing and handling the battery and electrical motor will also be important, and simple things like lifting and jacking up the car will be made more complicated because of the high-voltage cabling on the undercarriage, as well as the smaller engines and transmissions.

As these resources become available, you need to stay prepared. And once you've made these investments, remember to market and promote your capabilities. It's just another way of making sure you're ready to keep up with the changing face of automotive repair.