Home » America Doesn’t Have Enough Electricians For An EV Future: Report

America Doesn’t Have Enough Electricians For An EV Future: Report

Broken Charger Tmd
ADVERTISEMENT

In “The Graduate,” a family friend of Dustin Hoffman’s loafing, libidinous Ben Braddock informs him that the future is “Plastics.” Today, it might be fair to say that the future is “Electrons.” Specifically, it seems the world is going to need more electricians to help guide those electrons if we’re ever going to have a charging network robust enough to support all of these electric cars.

America may not suddenly be on the verge of swapping all of its cars for EVs, but more EVs are coming and it already feels, anecdotally, like there isn’t enough infrastructure for the ones we have now. Automakers suddenly bolting to Tesla’s NACS standard in the United States is proof of this, but a new report shows statistically that it’s as bad as people guessed.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Also on tap for today’s Morning Dump: Gigacasting is the word of the year in the automotive sector and two big players are once again looking at Tesla and thinking: If you can’t beat’em, copy’em. Today’s news dump will then detour into a bit of a union update before landing on a little bit of history.

Broken EV Chargers Need Electricians We Don’t Have

Tesla Supercharger Network

I was en route to Chicago in an electric car when I bumped into a technician for a large charging network (I won’t say which because I did not identify myself as a reporter). I’m glad he was there because, in fact, the first charger I attempted to use was out of service. Was he there to fix it?

ADVERTISEMENT

Nope! He was en route to a charger in another state and was just stopping to charge himself. I inquired as to why the stations I visit always seem to be broken and he explained that there weren’t enough technicians to work on them. In fact, he and fewer than a dozen technicians were responsible for a huge area that covered around 50,000 square miles. Was the pay bad? Nope. Pay and benefits were great but, as he explained, these are extremely high-voltage systems and not just anyone can work on them.

This was confirmed by a report today in Automotive News about the shortage of electricians:

Nearly 4,000 public charging stations with more than 7,000 ports were out of service as of early October, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s an outage rate of more than 6 percent.

The DOE estimate may be modest. Here Technologies, which pulls real-time data from connected chargers, says 4,673 chargers were out of order, but it expects many more “unconnected” charge points were inoperable.

Thousands of unusable chargers could hinder EV adoption as frustrated drivers complain about searching for working ports to keep their cars running. One in five charging attempts failed in the first half of the year, according to research firm J.D. Power.

Imagine if one-in-every-five trips to the gas station you couldn’t get a pump to work and the other pumps were full of cars that might be sitting there for another 20-30 minutes. It’s frustrating and it happens all the time.

What’s the cause? Again, from the report:

The U.S. will need at least 142,000 more certified electricians by 2030 to support the country’s electrification push, which includes EV charging, solar panels, battery storage, smart panels and more, according to Qmerit, a company that provides installation services for EV charging and other electrification technologies for homes and businesses.

“Public charging is competing for a scarcity of labor with these other demands,” said Eric Feinberg, chief work force officer at Qmerit. Improving the public charging infrastructure will require creative ways to find and train electricians, he said.

That’s a lot of electricians.

ADVERTISEMENT

In general, America has a shortage of skilled labor. Our sister company Galpin Motors is always keeping an eye out for talented automotive technicians, which is something we should probably touch on some other day. So, if you’re an aimless high schooler pondering what you should do, consider becoming an automotive tech or an electrician who can fix EV chargers.

Ford And Hyundai Make A Deal With Tesla’s Gigacasting Supplier

Gigacasting Machine
Photo: IDRA

I’ve already touched on how “gigacasting” is the hot new word in automotive. Here’s how I previously described it:

Gigacasting—which is technically a Tesla term catching on in the wider world—does away with the lots-of-small-castings part by, instead, casting one giant piece. In theory, this has a lot of advantages. If you can make one big cast and skip the labor and energy involved in making a lot of little parts and putting them together you can make cars a lot faster.

Yes, it’s a Tesla neologism, but it’s a good one! Tesla currently uses Italian company IDRA to supply its gigacasting machines. Guess who also now has a contract with IDRA?

From Reuters:

A ‘gigapress 6,100’, which produces a clamping force of over 6,000 tons, with the Ford brand printed on it, had been assembled and was being tested in IDRA’s plant in Travalgiato, near Brescia, northern Italy during an industry event organised by the company on Tuesday and Wednesday.

An even bigger press, the 9,000, IDRA’s largest and newest model — the size of a small house or a tennis court — was being tested nearby but without the client’s name printed on it.

A source close to the matter, however, said it would be shipped to Hyundai group, adding both it and the one for Ford would initially be used only for R&D purposes.

The source said IDRA was also about to sign a supply contract for two 9,000 presses with a premium automaker in Europe, its first with a European group.

It’s a good time to be a gigapress maker.

ADVERTISEMENT

GM, Unifor Reach A Deal To End Strike

Canadian Unifor
Photo: Unifor/X

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about Unifor going on strike against GM in Canada. Because it was yesterday. The strike is over, according to The Detroit News:

In a Tuesday statement, Marissa West, GM Canada president and managing director, said: “This record agreement, subject to member ratification, recognizes the many contributions of our represented team members with significant increases in wages, benefits and job security while building on GM’s historic investments in Canadian manufacturing.”

Larry Savage, a labor studies professor at Brock University in Ontario, said in a statement: “GM realized Unifor had significant leverage and the union clearly demonstrated it was willing to use that leverage to preserve the pattern in Canada.”

Is this another excuse for me to run another photo from Unifor’s Twitter account of them doing that weird, meek solidarity gesture?

Yes.

Happy 40th Anniversary To Audi Sport

40 Jahre Audi Sport Gmbh
Photo: Audi

I’ll admit, Audi Sport doesn’t quite have the cachet that M or AMG have, but what Audi Sport does have is a history of building amazing cars and winning races. It’s also the 40th anniversary. Here’s a bit from their press release:

quattro GmbH has existed since 1983, and in 2016, it was renamed as Audi Sport GmbH: Today, the wholly owned subsidiary of AUDI AG is shaping the sporty and exclusive image of the premium brand with the four rings even stronger than ever. “We look back proudly on the past 40 years and want to be even stronger in the future. To this end, we will selectively expand our model portfolio and our other service offerings together with AUDI AG. The sales records of recent years clearly underline our ambitions,” says Rolf Michl, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.

Happy Anniversary!

The Big Question

What’s your favorite Audi product of all time? [Ed Note: If you don’t answer Quattro or first-gen TT, then maybe just tell us your thoughts on technician/electrician/hands-on labor in the U.S., and the complicated way it’s portrayed in the context of college-degree-requiring office jobs. -DT]. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Popular Stories

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
192 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anchor
Anchor
8 months ago

As a former dealership and independent technician that always had at least 100% productivity and a low single digit comeback rate while doing automatic transmissions, drivability, and anything else the guys that hang brake pads for a living can’t figure out, I’m here to tell you the job kind of sucks.

The pay is based around the idea that you’re going to turn 60-70 hours per week but considering cars need much less maintenance today you’ll spend most of your time doing recalls and warranty work that’s designed to hold you near straight time. I couldn’t tell you the last set of customer pay brakes I did

What that means is that if you have the skill set to be good at the kind of electrical diagnosis and troubleshooting, plus you can interact well with customers and coworkers, document repairs properly to get paid and maintain your training, then you have a valuable skill set that can make you significantly more money in other fields that pay better, have better hours and benefits, and don’t destroy your body.

So when people complain about the technician shortage it isn’t because we push people out of trades, it’s because you need a minimum 2 year degree to do it and it doesn’t pay like that.

MDMK
MDMK
8 months ago

Skilled labor jobs are sorely needed and there’s a growing population of sometimes aimless young men who’d decided college was not for them. That’s a growing potential labor pool, but there’s a problem.

Technician jobs and other skilled labor positions are well paying but many are discouraged by the perception (or reality) of skilled labor jobs being “hard work” in often dangerous working conditions, terrible schedules, and being especially vulnerable to technological change and economic conditions. The media has done a great job discouraging people from skilled labor via highly publicized layoffs and stories of suffering ex-laborers struggling to find new career paths after their former positions had become obsolete.

I think it will take a major public campaign targeting not only young college-aged men to increase awareness, but kids as young as middle schoolers to make these careers more visible and attractive to them to create a reliable pipeline of future skilled labor.

DEcarTrouble
DEcarTrouble
8 months ago
Reply to  MDMK

Shouldn’t let the secret out but my BIL works less than I do and gets paid 3x-4x what I do as a millwright for a large electric supplier. Yeah when he does work it is hard work, but out of 7 days a week maybe 3 are actual work. If I could go back in time I would serious reconsider my choice of college and not trades.

Anchor
Anchor
8 months ago
Reply to  MDMK

I’m here to tell you as a former tech that if you can’t hack it in college then you can’t be an automotive technician. This isn’t break jobs and cylinder heads anymore and we have enough guys that can’t read a wiring diagram to last until the heat death of the universe.

DEcarTrouble
DEcarTrouble
8 months ago

Interesting, it is almost like instead of pushing my generation to the crushing debt of college maybe people should have been allowed to decide using a broad range of choices…

Nah, that couldn’t be right.

Enker
Enker
8 months ago

It’s tricky. We need good tradespeople out in the world. My father-in-law was one of those good tradesman. He was a master electrician in Wichita area for a good 35-odd years. His back is destroyed, one of his daughter’s most consistent memories is of him laying on his back on the floor, trying for some relief after a long day of work in a hostile environment.

I went and got my degree, I work in close quarters with industrial electricians for automotive manufacturers. Some of these electricians are good at what they do, some of them have 20 years of experience and cannot read a basic drawing. That’s not the problem. The problem is that every single one is exploited in some way, whether low pay, long hours, dangerous work environment, or the tasks they are asked to do will destroy your body. Gotta keep up production, gotta run through calls to get paid, gotta pick up slack, especially at auto manufacturers, but these problems extend out to residential electricians too. Here in the midwest, most residential electricians aren’t IBEW either. Apparently it gets even worse the further south you go.

We need changes, but I don’t really know that these changes are just for electricians. These changes really need to be for everyone. Fewer hours, better pay, safer work environments, more hands to do that same work. These aren’t unique needs.

Protodite
Protodite
8 months ago

Almost as if we shouldn’t have forced people from high school into much too expensive college to get some useless degree where they can then be a “consultant,” all while demeaning those in traditional trades

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago
Reply to  Protodite

^ This, this right here.

When I was in high school, I was able to go to the county technical school for half the day, then I came back to my high school for the other half of the day during my junior/senior years. This experience got me my ASE certs, a mentorship at a Ford dealer (that was, no joke, coincidentally DIRECTLY next door to my high school), and it exposed me to other students who were learning trades as well (carpentry, plumbing, culinary, etc..).

I still went on to college and got my bachelors, but funny enough, I use more of my experience from trade school and being a former Auto tech vs. my college degree. Because I work at an EV company and have to work closely with engineers on new designs.

I wish that learning a trade of some kind was made more mandatory than, say, 4 years of gym class. One of those is clearly more important than the other….

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago

> your favorite Audi product of all time

None. Audi is German for “steaming pile.”

Torque
Torque
8 months ago

In the case of the etron this is literally correct in french

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago
Reply to  Torque

Oui

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
8 months ago

As a white collar nerd with both MDs and construction workers in the immediate family, I’m hugely in support of more people going into the trades. They’re perfectly honorable and respectable career paths, with important skills that we need just as much as college-educated white collar workers, and probably even more (e.g. do we really need more marketing people?)

I’ll never understand the lack of respect the trades, machinists, etc blue collar jobs get. Like they’re a lesser kind of job for the people who couldn’t hack math or English classes, as if those were meaningful yardsticks to measure anyone’s accomplishments by.

Respect the trades. Pay them well. Encourage your kids to go into them if they have an interest or aptitude. We need those skills. They can be very gratifying careers.

Protodite
Protodite
8 months ago

The lack of respect is from our social “betters” in academia (and the lines of work tied to it) who looked at the electrician and plumber making more money than they were and saw nothing but jealousy and contempt

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
8 months ago

I respect anyone that does their job well. I think the lack of respect/animosity goes both ways though. Can’t tell you how many times the demeanor of a conversation changes once someone finds out I’m a lawyer. I grew up blue collar and still feel most comfortable interacting with blue collar people. Good conversations that end once they realize my knowledge of trades is only a hobby (or a relic of my youth) like I’m not worth talking to anymore. It doesn’t happen all the time, but enough times to notice.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
8 months ago

Quattro!

Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
8 months ago

Pretty sure there are a heap of auto workers in the next decade or so that are going to have pretty redundant jobs, might be a good place to look for a few sparkies. I’d go as far to say create a new trade being specific to EV charging, might be able to ‘skip over’ some of the less essential skills specific to that work to upskill quicker.

Also, completely ignoring the public charging, just sorting out home chargers is a task in itself. And with that, I know if I get an electric car, I’m going to be at least doubling my solar array.

Flyingtoothpick71
Flyingtoothpick71
8 months ago

my dream is to have a first gen tt quattro that i make into a rally car, and likely do up in a sport quattro esq livery.

05LGT
05LGT
8 months ago

Audi RS 6 Avant Performance. Blue with blue design package. Someone else pays.

192
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x