20 September 2022

How Canberra is training the first generation of electric vehicle mechanics and first-responders

| Lottie Twyford
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Richard Lindsay with a Tesla

CIT automotive teacher Richard Lindsay with the Tesla Model 3. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

Open the roller door of an unassuming building at the Canberra Institute of Technology’s Fyshwick campus and you’ll find the future.

Well, kind of, in the form of a sleek Tesla Model 3 and an entire wall of flash-looking car simulators.

This workshop is where CIT is not only training the mechanics of tomorrow to service and repair electric and hybrid vehicles but also our city’s first responders on how to manage lithium battery fires.

And demand for electric training is literally amping up by the day.

Since the facility opened in April, 40 Transport Canberra and City Services staff have already completed the program and 16 Tesla apprentices are currently being run through.

Next year, the first-ever full cohort of students will begin their four-year-long apprenticeship to receive their Certificate III in Electrical Vehicle Technology.

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CIT Automotive teacher Richard Lindsay said the reason behind the uptick in demand for EV training and upskilling is the market for the vehicles is finally changing.

“They aren’t a ‘new’ technology. It’s just that until now the manufacturers brought the cars into the country under warranty and trained their own staff. Now we’re getting so many that this is shifting,” he said.

“With this, the student cohort we’re attracting is different. Parents are excited about electric vehicles now in a way they weren’t about their kids pursuing a career as a mechanic.”

Mr Lindsay, recently named VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year, said attracting apprentice mechanics had become increasingly difficult in recent years, with attraction rates down by about 40 per cent.

He’s hopeful this trend won’t continue.

Currently, the lab is the only facility of its kind in the Territory and some of the machines it boasts are the only ones in the country.


This training simulator is the only one of its kind in use in the country. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

Unlike a traditional mechanics workshop, the EV lab is full of simulators rather than real cars. That’s because lithium batteries are so volatile it’s too dangerous to purposely create faults in them without risking burning the vehicle to the ground or creating unnecessary hazards for the students.

“We’ve got to attack it in a different way which still allows the students to learn proper fault-finding techniques in a safe way,” Mr Lindsay explained.

“We can recreate any of the faults we’d normally see and students can use all of their normal testing equipment to do the diagnosis.”

From next year, fire and rescue crews will begin training in how to extinguish an electric vehicle when it’s on fire, submerged in water or has been subject to a heavy impact.

Shane Rattenbury and Andrew Barr in an electric car

Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury released the Territory’s Zero Emissions Vehicle strategy. Photo: Lottie Twyford.

The ACT’s all-electric future drew closer this year as the government announced plans to phase out internal combustion engines with more clarity than ever before.

This included a commitment to banning new fossil fuel cars from being registered in the ACT from 2035 onwards, although the finer details of this ban are yet to be worked out. It wants 80 to 90 per cent of new cars sold in the ACT to be zero-emissions five years earlier than that.

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A major overhaul of the car registration system to one based on emissions rather than weight has also been flagged by Chief Minister Andrew Barr, and by next year, the ACT should have 100 publicly-available EV charging stations. It’s estimated 1000 will be needed by 2030.

Some have expressed fears the charging infrastructure roll-out, the grid itself and the training of the city’s mechanics and first responders isn’t happening quickly enough.

But Mr Lindsay isn’t deterred by the scale of the training task ahead, although he acknowledged there is a “lot of ground to cover”.

“We’re definitely gearing up to ensure we aren’t training just for now, we’re training for the future as well,” he said.

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Mr Lindsay estimates between 3000 and 4000 people in the Territory will need some form of electric vehicle training at least before the 2035 ban comes into effect on new cars.

“That’s because we’ve got to cover repair shops, tyre shops, panel beaters, roadside crews, tow truck operators and first responders and more,” Mr Lindsay said.

And with 1600 people on the waitlist to study the course already, Mr Lindsay just needs one more thing – more teachers.

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HiddenDragon9:48 pm 29 Sep 22

Think I’ll hang on to the Stanley Steamer until they sort out the battery problem –


[‘Why Tesla, GM And Other EV Companies Have A Fire Problem’ – CNBC – 25 January 2022]

In the meantime, the (surely) inevitable new CSI franchise – EV Inferno – should be worth watching.

Now address the actual issue with EVs which is the standard price. For the same cost, I can buy 2 equivalent sized ICE’s and enough petrol to run them for 10+ years.

If it’s a case of wanting to be actually environmentally friendly, heavily encourage WFH and fine departments who do not allow it. Taking 50,000 cars of any kind off the roads daily in the ACT will have a much bigger effect on the environment.

Of course that also means all those expensive usless office buildings would need to be repurposed, and those poor barista’s would have to close up shop and get a real job.

Surely you would consider this a good thing, as the loss of jobs for mechanics* seems to be one of the only-non conspiracy theory-esque arguements against EVs, and you have an obvious bias against EVs.

*who actively resist retraining opportunities for the most obvious emerging industry of the decade

In the USA Telsa replaced a battery with a heavier larger capacity battery for a warranty claim. The car was on-sold at least once and the new owner enjoyed the range.

New owner asked Tesla about other unrelated issue. While working on the car remotely Telsa fixed the range issue. (Customer had more range than originally purchased.) they remotely locked the range/output down to the smaller battery.

BMW are now offering subscriptions for heated seats. All the components required to do heated seats are in the cars, you pay for the energy to run it via petrol / electric but for you to get a warm bum you have to pay money to BMW monthly.

I’m really surprised that our first responders don’t know how to deal with electric car fires.
If there is an accident does the victim have to wait until next year?

EV’s are a different beast to ICE. when an ICE catches fire or overheats usually its in the middle of the road or on the move. When EV’s catch fire usually they’re charging parked in the garage at night or in a crowded carpark of a shopping mall.

Hopefully when considering the emissions Barr will consider the coal that is burned to charge the EV’s at night.. They aren’t getting charged with solar, or is the long term plan to buy industrial batteries to charge up car batteries at night? (and being the actual emissions not the half a world away solar / wind green on paper emissions).

Already seems like EVs and transport is poorly managed.

Do you have a reference for your first story, gooterz? I would be interested to read it, and its source.

Regarding your BMW heated seats rental (among several other rentable features in those cars) you omit that the buyer can always purchase instead. Rental is an option for those whom it might suit. Are you so concerned about the commercial model for luxury features on ICE and EV cars? What has that to do with EV repair training?

Do you have data which demonstrates that ICE vehicles do not catch fire in garages etc? (They do). Given they catch fire so much more often, I would not be surprised they find more places (like roads) to do it.

EV’s powered by coal-powered generators are more efficient, less polluting in total (including generation) than ICE vehicles. This has already been mentioned here. We can greatly improve on that with non-fossil generation and storage.

I’d worry about your self-management of your thinking before turning to anything weightier.

Capital Retro11:54 am 22 Sep 22

“I’m really surprised that our first responders don’t know how to deal with electric car fires.”

Last time I asked the RFS they didn’t even know how to deal with a wind turbine fire. Fires started at wind farms turbine fire have the potential to cause unprecedented bushfires, some can be very close to home.


You mean the fire started by a bird hitting a 33kV transmission line, CR? Should we remove all 33kV transmission lines everywhere, or just make sure they are properly constructed?

Section 16 of the class action, now settled without blame attached, may enlighten you on the risk issues, if you want to try reading facts rather than tendentious articles.

Do you consider immolation of careless birds a critical item for EV vehicle servicing, CR?

Topic —>

<— Capital Retro

Topic —>

<— Capital Retro

I trust the above model will be of general utility.

Capital Retro11:45 am 22 Sep 22

Of course! It’s a public holiday today so you are home and not at play school and you did some doodling on a computer.

Capital Retro1:51 pm 21 Sep 22

Hang on, haven’t the ICE engine owners been constantly berated by the EV lobby claiming EVs never need servicing or maintaining?

From what I have read in this article it will be probably cost more to maintain an EV than an ICE powered one.

Maybe the renewables industry was correct when they said “thousands of jobs would be created”.

Capital Retro,
Nowhere in this article or previous comments will you find anything like what you’ve posted here.

No one has said that they never need service or maintainence. Just that due to the form of technology, those needs are less than ICE vehicles. Which is correct.

“From what I have read in this article it will be probably cost more to maintain an EV than an ICE powered one.”

I’d love you to try and justify this with specific parts of the article.

Seems you think simply training someone in a new technology means that you can extrapolate your own points on to something not even remotely conveyed in the text.

Capital Retro8:41 am 22 Sep 22

Your response was totally predictable, chewy. Once you have set your course nothing gets in your way.

Perhaps others may find this interesting: https://www.repcoservice.com/our-services/electric-hybrid-vehicle-servicing/electric-vehicle-servicing

I have heard some horror stories about the cost of getting replacement parts for Teslas. Given their capital cost I am not surprised.

Capital Retro,
I agree me correcting your falsehoods is predictable and frequent.

Also see that you haven’t responded to the points I made at all and haven’t backed up your original claims whatsoever.

Cmon, where in the article does it even remotely suggest that EVs will be more expensive to maintain than ICE vehicles?

Where has anyone said that EVs don’t need maintenance?

Although thanks for the link around the very basics of EV maintenance, perhaps you learned something?

Would you like a crayon?

The Repco Servicing article in question states clearly that EV’s are less complex, require less in parts and consumables, than ICE / hybrids.

That’s a good point, CR, well done.

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