NuVant EVcharge, Distributed through The Hybrid Shop
HOW IT WORKS:
Bradley Hayes says the overall culture at Fifth Gear Automotive in Lewisville, Texas, where he is director of marketing, is about striving to be on the leading edge of the industry for independent shops.
“We don’t like to say ‘no’ to a customer if they have an issue,” he says.
Roughly three years ago, Hayes says the shop noticed the amount of hybrid vehicles in the area was increasing steadily and that many of those vehicles were coming out of warranty and looking for an alternative to the dealer to have them serviced.
“Looking around and looking at the numbers, that’s where the market is going,” he says. “It’s an emerging segment of the market that, up to that point, and which is still the stereotype, is only available from the dealer.”
The shop decided to join The Hybrid Shop’s franchise model and purchase the battery equipment, designed by NuVant Systems Inc. The Hybrid Shop operates with a franchise model, so shops pay a fee to join the network and are then given a turnkey package designed to set up an additional pro t center focused on hybrid vehicles.
The crux of that work comes from reconditioning hybrid batteries. Once the vehicle comes in with a suspected hybrid issue, Hayes says the technicians remove the battery pack from the vehicle and strip
it down to just the battery modules. The technician then uses various diagnostic tests to identify the failing modules.
“It’s very rare the entire thing is just bad. Sometimes you’ll have one module out of 24 that is bad,” he says. “Then we can remove it and replace it with a new replacement at a significantly reduced cost of having to do the whole thing.”
After replacing the new module, the technician hooks up the battery to the battery reconditioning equipment, which runs a rapid cycle of charging and discharging that reconditions the battery up to 95 percent of like-new performance and requires little assistance from the technician.
Altogether, Hayes says the investment came in under $100,000 and the shop recouped that investment in 24 months. He says that while the “plot chart of growth” wasn’t initially a straight line, hybrid work now makes up 20 percent of the shop’s monthly work—and that’s all work he would have had to turn away previously.
Instead, he says the shop is working at capacity for hybrid repairs and uses the equipment every day. Hayes says that the work also has a higher ARO and gross pro t than the non-hybrid vehicle work.
“We happen to be in an area where there is a significant presence of hybrid cars that is growing steadily,” he says. “People are looking for this and they are starting to realize that there are shops capable of doing this and they don’t necessarily have to go with the dealer, which is the biggest thing.”
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