The UK’s automotive trade body SMMT has begun the development of an industry-wide electric vehicle (EV) technical training programme that will act as a best practice guide for the sector.

Prioritising the emergency and breakdown services, the guide will cover all stakeholders, including manufacturers, dealerships and technicians. The EV training programme will establish consistent technical competency levels, ensuring the safe and sustainable growth of the industry as technology begins to come to market.

“Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are exciting new technologies that will become increasingly popular options for motorists, so it is essential that the people involved in service, repair and roadside assistance are properly prepared ,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.  “The training and accreditation programme we are helping to develop will ensure consumers get the very best support and this new technology gets a smooth introduction to the marketplace.”

In January 2011, government will introduce its ‘Plug-In Car Grant’ that will incentivise motorists to buy ultra-low carbon cars. An integrated low-carbon plan also sees a charging network of ‘Plugged-In Places’ developing nationwide and requires a standardised level of technical awareness and ability that the new guide will ensure.

SMMT’s partnership with the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the Professional Association and Sector Skills Council for the automotive retail sector, will enable the swift roll-out of the training scheme.  IMI’s experts will provide valuable input to the training programme, influenced and supported by its established ATA (Automotive Technician Accreditation) programme.

Additional support from Semta, the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, will ensure that the training programme meets sector demand while working with employers to drive awareness of the need to up-skill staff to deal with EVs.

The new training programme will draw upon existing EV training requirements and understanding, developing the skills, competencies and expertise to produce a standardised guide to be used industry-wide. Key groups are set to be fully trained by the end of the year, with the scheme extended to all stakeholders in 2011.