Electric vehicles impact on the environment and the auto care sector 

March 5, 2024

The push for an increase in electric vehicles (EVs) leaves a lot of unknowns for consumers, the environment, and the auto care sector. For instance, what really is the environmental impact of more EVs on the road? Does Canada have the necessary infrastructure to meet this goal and ensure that consumers are satisfied? And, when warranties on EVs expire, will the auto care sector be prepared? 

Due to the federal government’s new EV mandate—which aims to have 100 per cent of vehicle sales by electric in just 11 years—the automotive industry is shifting priorities to meet this mandate and the new influx of EVs. The auto care sector, however, must also adjust and adapt to continue to succeed and avoid potential conflicts.  

The environment and EVs 

While EVs have far fewer moving parts than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and emit no direct pollution, it is essential to recognize that they are not without any negative environmental impact.   

For one, the production of EV batteries involves resource-intensive materials like lithium, cobalt, steel, graphite, and nickel—all of which are usually extracted using fossil fuels, which have dire environmental consequences. 

Aside from the indirect environmental impacts of EVs, there is one notable component to EVs that have an impact on the environment: EV tires. Since EVs have increased torque and weight, these tires wear 20 per cent faster than ICE vehicles, ultimately causing 26 per cent more pollution of harmful chemicals into the air, ground, and water.  

As Canada transitions to an EV-dominated future, the impacts of EVs on the environment—while better than ICE vehicles—need to be addressed. 

The auto care sector and the rise of electric vehicles 

The rise of EVs poses challenges in the auto care sector. For one, there needs to be widespread training and up-skilling across the country for new and experienced workers in the industry. Embracing the full potential of EVs—from the environmental impacts to meeting consumer preferences—relies on the fact that technicians are properly trained to diagnose and fix problems safely and effectively. 

Since EVs have fewer moving parts than ICE vehicles, some traditional roles may be reduced or, in some cases, obsolete. The entrance of EVs in the market may free up technician time—for instance, EVs do not have spark plugs or oil filters, potentially making the time it takes to service a vehicle shorter, and potentially requiring less workers in an auto care shop to fully repair and service an EV.  

While ICE and hybrid vehicles will be around for years to come, for auto care shops across the country to flourish, training and up-skilling will need to be prioritized. 

With training prioritized, technicians will be able to handle high-voltage components and advanced software interfaces to diagnose and fix these problems. Once warranties on EVs run out, consumers will go to independent auto care shops—and with training, the auto care sector can succeed. 

The auto care sector can continue to adapt and shift priorities by diversifying their skillset. Based on the idea from Adeline Forget, Flynn Barrett, and John Brackett, all students of Georgian College’s Automotive Business School of Canada, when it comes to EV tires, the auto care sector can implement special technology to make these tires. By creating durable EV tires, not only will this reduce the need for frequent replacements, but it will also create jobs, bolster the industry, and lessen the environmental impacts of current EV tires. 

In the long term, the transition to EVs represents a significant shift in the auto care sector. The move towards cleaner transportation benefits the environment and aligns with changing consumer attitudes.  

However, if the federal government wants to ensure the transition from ICE vehicles to EVs is seamless and positive—for both vehicle owners and auto care employees—implementation is needed. The government needs to act and implement a national strategy, accessible training programs, and up-skilling opportunities for auto care employees nationwide.  

This blog has been created in partnership with 2023 Student Aftermarket Day Best-in-Class winners, Adeline Forget, Flynn Barrett, and John Brackett, and instructor, curriculum designer, and facilitator, Faisal Savja, from Georgian College’s Automotive Business School of Canada. 


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