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Are you ready for the electric revolution?

Hybrid & EV training
Are ready for the growing market coming from hybrids and EVs?
Game-Changing is a sometimes overused term, but I believe that this phrase can be safely used to describe Tesla, the US based electric vehicle manufacturer.

Eradicating the range anxiety normally associated with electric vehicles Tesla are confident of providing over 200 miles of use between charges, more than double the range that most other electric vehicles can achieve. Tesla are also challenging traditional sales and servicing systems by setting up city centre ‘stores’ that can demonstrate static and virtual vehicles, with out of town servicing centres that include collection and delivery services, as well as loan vehicles, free vehicle charging and much more.

Having recently been privileged to drive a Tesla Model S it does change the rules, performance and handling are at the top of the class, specification and build quality are also excellent, and the whole experience of driving at speed with no engine noise or gear changes is slightly surreal. As this range expands, and as more vehicle manufacturers race to compete with this company I predict many more electric vehicles will come into use in the next few years.

Toyota have already sold more than 6 million hybrid vehicles around the world, the 3rd Generation Prius is in production with the 4th Generation less than 2 years away from dealer showrooms, vehicle manufacturers and importers are announcing electric or hybrid vehicles almost monthly as they try to drive down the average Co2 emissions of their vehicles.

All of these will find their way into automotive recycling yards, either through natural end of life or accident or incident, and it is important for all auto recyclers to understand them so they can make money from them.
There are three basic types:
The full electric is self explanatory, driven by an electric motor that is powered by a battery, with a cable to connect to a charging point when re-charge is required.
The Range Extender is an electric vehicle which also has an engine that is purely used to drive a generator to charge the battery. There is no mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels on these vehicles. Examples currently available are the Vauxhall Ampera (Chevrolet Volt in other markets), BMW i8 and some models of the BMW i3 range. These vehicles also have a charge cable and an electric only range of 40-50 miles before the battery requires recharging. On a longer journey, once the battery has run out of charge, the engine starts and charges the battery removing the range anxiety associated with full electric vehicles.
Hybrid vehicles come in 2 forms, hybrid and plug in hybrid. The principle is the same in both, a high voltage battery provides power to drive the vehicle, either in conjunction with, or separately from, the engine. In hybrid form there is very limited range and performance from the battery and it is at its best in stop start use. The battery is recharged during use by regenerative braking or by the engine. The Plug in hybrid differs by having a bigger battery and can give anything between 20 and 40 miles of use before the battery runs out of power and the engine takes over; these models have a charge cable and can be recharged cheaply from a suitable charge point.

All Electric and Hybrid vehicles have many similarities to ‘normal’ vehicles, all have 12 volt electrical systems to power the ancillaries such as lights, wipers, window motors, audio systems, SRS systems and so on. Steering and braking systems are similar apart from electrical power for the PAS pump and Brake Booster (servo).

Differences are the obvious High Voltage Battery, Electric Motor(s), High Voltage Cables, DC to AC Converters, built in battery charger (all those with plug in capability). Less obvious differences include high voltage power to the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit, battery cooling systems, and in many cases, the lack of an alternator as charging and power supply comes from the battery and electric motor.
Batteries in these vehicles come in three forms:
12volt - ‘traditional’ lead acid units that power the many car systems.
High Voltage - NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) used in the majority of current hybrid vehicles, now starting to be replaced by…
High Voltage - Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) used in most full electric vehicles, and starting to appear in all other hybrid and range extender vehicles.

Storage of these batteries is critical, never ever mix them together in the same storage boxes, always protect the terminals, store them in a dry area, flat and in such a way that they cannot drop onto anything or have anything drop onto them. Any leaking batteries need to be handled with extreme caution, the leak plugged, and the leaking fluid dealt with in the appropriate manner. Always confer with your Insurance Provider, Environment Agency and Health and Safety specialist on best practice for the storage of any batteries.

Andy Latham
The writer of the this article is Andy Latham, MD of specialist consultancy to the auto recycling industry, Salvage Wire. Andy is a motor vehicle engineer with over 30 years experience in automotive retail, motor insurance and vehicle salvage markets.
Lead Acid and most NiMH batteries have some scrap value and you will receive a return when you send these batteries for recycling, currently Li-Ion batteries have negative value so payment will be expected when these batteries are sent for recycling - worth noting before you submit any bids for damaged vehicles with these batteries.

Recycling of these vehicles can be completed in a very similar manner to ‘conventional’ vehicles, once the high voltage systems have been made safe. With batteries producing over 200 volts DC, which can then be converted to 750 volts, three phase AC for the electric motor, these systems are very powerful and can kill if not handled correctly. Likewise, the electrolyte used in the batteries is very harmful if it is leaking, so safe handling of these vehicles is critical. Once the vehicle has been made safe then the recycler can gain access to the high voltage cables, electric motors, batteries and all the other components on the vehicle, strip them out and recycle for the best returns.

Training on these vehicles is essential right through the business, from collection of the vehicle, through storage, dismantling and part disposal, employees need to know what they are dealing with. For example: Collecting a hybrid vehicle with a damaged battery from a recovery yard could be extremely dangerous, leaking battery fluid, the risk of electric shock, short circuit and fire are all possibilities. If any of this occurred then the Health and Safety Executive would (rightly) be asking about your collection processes, and if you had not trained your truck driver how to handle these vehicles, identify potential battery issues and deal correctly with them; or your office staff had not asked the right questions before sending the truck out to collect the vehicle; or you had failed to place essential safety kit in your truck then the HSE could start taking serious action against you and your business.

Andy runs Salvage Wire who have developed training that is designed for automotive recyclers. This gives you the basic information you need to correctly and safely handle these vehicles, training that can be brought to your business for all your staff, or you can join Salvage Wire at one of their regular training days held around the country.

Andy tells us that there are still some spaces available at some of his training days - Tuesday 17th June in South Wales and Wednesday 25th June in Birmingham. For full details and to book your place contact Salvage Wire on 07710 877411.

June 2014

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