Johannesburg - Car technology is evolving at an accelerated pace and we're going to need capable technicians to keep high-tech vehicles on the road.
Jaguar Land Rover, globally and in South Africa, has made it no secret that its product portfolio will evolve over the next few years as the company moves away from traditional big-bore internal combustion engine (ICE) set-ups.
More hybrid models with small-capacity ICE, battery pack and electric motor set-ups will start to take over, and that means new skills will be required across the brands' dealer network, certainly in the workshop area.
New full-electric models will come too, and because these high-voltage cars can be challenging and dangerous to work on if not powered down correctly, Jaguar Land Rover is training its technicians on how to work on all sorts of electrified powertrains in a safe and controlled environment.
Since before the introduction of the award-winning Jaguar I-Pace in South Africa more than two years ago, Jaguar Land Rover has been on an offensive to ensure its technicians are up to speed when it comes to electric and hybridised cars. At the company's local headquarters in Irene, on the outskirts of Pretoria in Gauteng, they have set up a state-of-the-art EV training facility that's set to propel a new age of motor vehicle technicians into the future.
We asked Jaguar Land Rover's EV Technical Specialist, Shaun Turner, if it's still worthwhile to learn how to fix cars and he said it's more critical than ever to develop skills in vehicle repair. Turner took us on a tour of the Jaguar Land Rover training centre where he showed us the different training areas and how they are set up to accommodate the different types of drivetrains that are currently on offer.
Technicians who attend training courses at the Jaguar Land Rover training centre are able to work on diesel engines, petrol engines, transmissions, all-wheel-drive chassis components and more. There are full Jaguar and Land Rover training vehicles available for technicians to dissect and every single tool (diagnostic or otherwise) is available to ensure seamless knowledge sharing.
In one particular room in the training centre, Turner and Jaguar Land Rover's Customer Experience Manager, Derrick Dearlove, showed us the core of the Jaguar I-Pace, its battery pack. The battery pack has been removed from an I-Pace and it is used in specialist training sessions where senior-level EV technicians learn how to power down the car safely in a controlled environment. Unlike the situation in most garages where ICE cars are serviced, the rules and regulations around how to power down and service an electric car in a workshop differ.
Only a fully qualified Jaguar Land Rover EV technician may power down a Jaguar I-Pace to perform critical battery repairs and servicing. This is to ensure that any technician that's working on the vehicle can do so safely without fear of electrocution.
In the EV training room, a makeshift barrier has been created to highlight the safe perimeter that must be adhered to when working on a high-voltage EV. Turner explained that a dedicated hook man controls and clears each move that a technician needs to make on the car. If the hook man says work must stop, it must stop, for safety reasons. As technicians undergo training and graduate through the various levels they can work on more intricate parts of the EV, according to Turner, eventually qualifying to become a hook 'man' if that's a goal.
We took a tour of the centre's parts room too, where some of the I-Pace components are housed and it's here that it came together that we'll still need many highly qualified technicians to work on cars in workshops in the future no matter how much vehicles evolve.
EVs, and hybrids even more so, are built using so many components that will eventually need to be serviced or repaired that the future for vehicle technicians looks really promising.
Turner said that Jaguar Land Rover technicians receive class-leading training that not only raises their skill set, but the knowledge that is shared in the training centre will go a long way in ensuring South Africa's future car parc remains safe and reliable.
It was a welcome experience to visit the training centre where I-Pace technicians and future EV technicians will learn the skills to keep some exciting new electrified cars on the road.
If you would like to learn more about becoming an EV technician or if you are already an ICE vehicle technician and you would like to future proof your skillset, Jaguar Land Rover's training centre might be just the place for you.
It certainly is still worthwhile, in our opinion, to become a technician after seeing what future cars can look like under the skin at the Jaguar Land Rover training centre.