‘Electrification will cost jobs all over Europe’
Several players in the dealer service and maintenance sector for cars sound the alarm bell. The electrification of the European car park will cost many jobs in the sector because the maintenance of an electric motor is far less complex.
The Dutch organization of dealers and repair shops Bovag confirms: “The maintenance needs of an electric car are 50 to 75% less than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE). And there’s also an impact on auxiliary systems, no need for oil anymore, for example.”
Only the brakes (less used than in an ICE car), the steering, the suspension, and several accessories need (limited) maintenance in an electric car. Dealers, in fact, have to hope for more bodywork repair to compensate for the losses.
In France and the Netherlands, simulations have already been made of the damage this could do to employment. In France, they are taking three scenarios into account.
The most pessimistic one assumes that it will still last a long time before electric cars break through. The second scenario is that of the European targets for electrification, and the third is a very optimistic one, assuming that all cars bought in 2030 will be electric.
In the pessimistic scenario, €400 million of turnover will be lost on maintenance in France’s car sector. For the most optimistic scheme, this will climb to €4,7 billion. In terms of employment, this would cost from 11 500 to 31 000 jobs in France.
The Bovag organization in the Netherlands comes to the same conclusions. The loss in turnover will vary between 25 and 36%. In Belgium, no calculations have yet been done. Still, Filip Rylant, the spokesman of the sector federation Traxio, affirms that “they are aware of the negative impact this could have on business.”
Transposing the figures from France and the Netherlands to a Belgian situation would mean a loss of some 4 000 jobs in the following 15 years. Moreover, one has to consider that battery technology and production are now primarily an Asian affair.
Traxio says it has planned to make the same evaluation in Belgium when all necessary information is available, but it also places things into perspective. Filip Rylant: “We know there will be job losses in aftersales and maintenance, but the electrification will probably also create jobs in other branches.”
In the past twenty years, the car business has become leaner and leaner when it comes to production, and also, the aftersales and maintenance have become more efficient and less important.
Add to this the shrinking margins (especially for the dealers) on the sales of new cars, and we can understand why this sector is in crisis. We witness the disappearance of the small, independent dealer who has been swallowed by large dealer organizations.
This is not a new feat, and electrification will certainly accelerate the movement. Still, it’s a little bit easy to blame the electric car for something that is already happening for decades now.
Car manufacturers in Europe (and the US) have been relying too much on the car sector’s old schemes, wanting to believe that nothing would change in the near or further future. They’ve been totally wrong, of course.
So it’s really time to come up with some new things, to be creative about the transporting needs in a new (post-corona) era. Europa, for example, has to invest heavily in new technologies, catching up in the sector of battery development and production, taking the lead in other techniques, and in the steering of changing mobility habits.