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Ford Dealerships Across the U.S. Begin Training Technicians to Service the Fully-Electric Mach-E

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【Summary】Although the Ford Mach-E doesn’t arrive until later next year, the company's dealership service departments are training technicians to safely service Ford's first mass-market electric vehicle.

FutureCar Staff    Dec 26, 2019 4:00 PM PT
Ford Dealerships Across the U.S. Begin Training Technicians to Service the Fully-Electric Mach-E
The fully-electric Ford Mach-E arrives in 2020.

The Ford Motor Company's first fully-electric vehicle the Mustang-inspired Mach-E crossover will be one of the most advanced vehicles the automaker has ever created. Although the Mach-E doesn't arrive until later next year, dealership service departments are training their technicians to safely service Ford's first mass-market electric vehicle.

For is expecting that the Mach-E will sell in large numbers, so dealership service employees will need specialized training to familiarize themselves with the Mach-E's electric powertrain and its other electrical systems. 

To start, Ford dealers are installing EV charging stations, buying specialty tools and signing up technicians for specialized training. Ford says the Mach-E's redesigned battery pack will make that service easier, safer and faster, according to a recent report from Automotive News.

Shawn Barry, general manager of Red McCombs Ford in San Antonio, said to Automotive News that his dealership is undergoing "the full certification program" for Mach-E service. 

That includes sending his eight EV-certified techs to a Ford center for specialized training specific to the electric Mach-E. Technicians are also taking courses online. 

Barry says he will have to buy special tools for Mach-E service, adding that Ford will define those requirements next spring. The Mach-E is scheduled to arrive at dealerships in late 2020.

Automotive News reports that more than 2,100 Ford dealers, more than double the amount that was previously certified to service battery-electric vehicles, have signed up to be certified for the Mach-E and subsequent EVs that Ford will introduce in the coming years, says George Goddu, the lead for aftersales strategy on Team Edison, Ford's division focusing on the automaker's electrification initiatives. 

One of the most important tasks for the Mach-E training is being able to safely remove and replacing the SUV's battery modules. The battery, supplied by South Korean battery maker LG Chem, has individual modules that can be independently diagnosed, removed and repaired or replaced.

That design makes the battery "easier to service," Goddu says, since it enables dealerships to store and ship individual modules instead of a bulky and extremely heavy battery pack. The modules will improve repair times for the Mach-E, Goddu says.

The battery in the Ford Focus EV, for example, can only be serviced as an assembly, Goddu said.

There also is a safety element, since an entire battery can release toxic chemicals or even catch fire if not properly handled. The power electronics used in the Mach-E have a 400-volt architecture and require specific service procedures, much higher than 12-volt systems in gas-powered vehicles.

Being able to properly service the Mach-E will help Ford dealerships maintain revenue. Unlike internal combustion engine vehicles, electric vehicles such as the Mach-E don't require regular maintenance like oil changes. EVs have far fewer moving parts which rarely break down, eliminating most of the routine maintenance that auto dealerships rely on for revenue.

Ford dealerships will need trained technicians to service fully-electric vehicles, as mechanical repairs make up less of the service or warranty work that dealership shops perform. 

For example, many of the issues with Tesla vehicles can be fixed remotely via over-the-air software updates without having to visit a repair facility. Now that Ford is competing with Tesla in the electric vehicle segment, Ford will need highly trained employees to service the Mach-E as efficiently as Tesla does with its vehicles, including future electric models from Ford.

Barry says he plans to add a charging station in front of his Texas dealership, along with two stations in the service department so technicians can charge customers' electric vehicles. Barry anticipates there will be brisk demand for the Mach-E one its available next year. 

Ford is investing $11 billion to develop around 40 new electric and plug-in hybrid models models over the next five years.

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