According to the 2023 Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey, 57% of automotive repair shop owners polled said adding EV repair to their service offerings over the next five years is a priority. Jeff Hudnut, product manager for EV charging, battery charging and electronic test tools for Bosch Automotive Service Solutions (part of the Bosch Automotive Aftermarket), answered a few questions about why auto repair shops should consider having an EV charger on-premises even if they’re not repairing vehicles today.
Ratchet+Wrench: What sort of EV chargers does Bosch offer for independent repair shops?
Jeff Hudnut: Our product portfolio for EV chargers is really focused toward the needs of the automotive service department. So, to that end, all the charging stations are outfitted in a way that makes them easy to install, simple to operate, and ultimately, keep the total cost of ownership down compared to competitive charging stations.
R+W: What are some ways that shop owners can take advantage of having an EV charger in the shop in terms of customer engagement and drawing customers into the shop?
Hudnut: I know a lot of shops right now and they're nervous about the adoption of electric vehicles and having to shift their focus from the traditional business of servicing internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. There's an investment that must be made for new tools and new equipment, and I think what we want to show is that there really isn't that big of a change. It's not a huge investment, and much of the equipment can be used for other purposes.
So, an electric vehicle charger, your 240-volt receptacle that most shops already have, once they're installed and operating, can be put on public websites, like Google Maps and PlugShare, so that customers can locate them and come in for free charging. Knowing that a shop has an EV charger can help draw customers.
R+W: What's the barrier to entry for a shop owner who may be interested in installing an EV charger? What's the process of getting started and getting the charger installed and ready to go?
Hudnut: The AC charging stations like we're looking at and talking about here are outfitted with standard plugs. So, if the shop has a 240-volt receptacle, the only installation is mounting it to the wall with the included mounting bracket and plugging it in. It was fully operational at that point. There is no network connection that has to be done. There's no service fee that has to be set up. They’re simple-to-use devices that plug and play with the vehicle, so as soon as you plug it into an outlet, the other end can be plugged into the vehicle and it will start charging right away.
R+W: What considerations need to be made before investing in EV chargers?
Hudnut: It can be an optics device because most shops, even if they're not servicing electric vehicles today, they can be. There's still wheels, there's tires, there's chassis and suspension work that has to be done. There's brakes, there's wiper blades that have to be replaced and air cabin air filters, so attracting these electric vehicle owners can help drive in business. Well, really from a technician standpoint, servicing those standard service items is no different than an internal combustion engine