By Stephen Macharia
Utu Cars, an electric vehicle dealer in Kenya, has launched a mechanic training programme, which is being offered at no cost across the nation. This initiative is designed to equip local mechanics with the essential skills needed for electric vehicle maintenance and repair and is expected to positively contribute towards sustainable mobility.
The free maintenance training programme represents Utu Cars’ commitment to fostering the adoption of electric vehicles in Kenya. This approach aims to meet the growing demand for after-sales support and ensure a seamless transition to electric vehicles.
“Our dedication to providing a comprehensive solution underscores the significance of addressing maintenance and repair aspects. The training primarily covers fundamental electric vehicle technology, safety protocols for handling high-voltage components, and the diagnosis and repair of EVs,” stated Eve Maina, the Managing Director of Utu Cars.
Utu Cars has crafted a curriculum and is collaborating with vocational centres nationwide to deliver this training. Mechanics undergo a mix of classroom sessions and hands-on experiences, including the dismantling and reassembling of electric vehicles, providing them with an in-depth understanding of the vehicle components.
Utu supposes that local mechanics participating in this programme will benefit from expanded job opportunities, increased earning potential, and the ability to grasp new vehicle technologies. The training expands their service offerings, introducing EV maintenance to their skill set and granting them a competitive edge over traditional peers.
As the global trend leans towards phasing out internal combustion vehicles, this training programme equips Kenyan mechanics to contribute to a more sustainable future by servicing electric vehicles.
“The curriculum remains dynamic, ensuring it adapts to the continuous changes in the electric vehicle industry. The training programme spans one week, prioritising hands-on learning over conventional classroom instruction. Eligibility for participation extends to mechanics with prior experience in automotive repair and a sound understanding of automotive systems,” Maina explained in an interview with AutoNews Magazine.
Diverse skill set
Mechanics undergoing this training acquire a wide array of new skills, addressing safety protocols and common maintenance issues encountered in the vast range of electric vehicles available in the market. They gain proficiency in handling high-voltage components, managing batteries, and working with EV-specific software and hardware.
The programme commences with an understanding of the manufacturer’s sheet and manual, pinpointing the location of various components, including the crucial safety plug.
“Given the electrical and high-voltage components of EVs, safety is paramount. Mechanics wear personal protective equipment, including gloves, when working on the battery. They adhere to the manufacturer’s manual and guidelines to familiarize themselves with the specific EV they are working on. Regular equipment and tool inspections are part of the rigorous safety measures in place,” she further highlighted.
By nurturing a skilled workforce, this initiative makes EV ownership more accessible, reduces maintenance costs, and instils confidence in prospective EV buyers.
However, throughout the training implementation, Utu Cars has faced various challenges, including the diversity of electric vehicle models, each with unique features and intricate systems. Established EVs come with comprehensive manuals and guidelines, while newer models can be comparatively complex. Additionally, the initial equipment costs and keeping pace with rapidly evolving technology have posed significant hurdles.
Utu’s vision for a sustainable future
Utu Cars envision the rapid adoption of EVs in Kenya, offering significant benefits, such as a 40% reduction in operational costs compared to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. Moreover, this shift will reduce carbon emissions, aligning with Kenya’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
Utu Cars enables affordable EV ownership, with financing options that include 50% financing on orders for outright purchases and lease-to-own agreements. They provide driver training to ensure proper EV use, charging, and maintenance.
Moreover, they are establishing charging infrastructure in Nairobi and key towns, ensuring easy accessibility for EV owners.
In addition to charging infrastructure, Utu Cars is equipping local technicians and garages with best practices for after-sales support, ensuring that EV owners have access to service support.