The group was brought together by Chris Weeks, executive director of the National Body Repair Association, and Kirsty McKno, managing director of Cogent Hire.
Weeks said: "We want to collaborate across the industry and build awareness, find solutions, and make recommendations that will hopefully ensure that the Road to Zero is maintained with safety at its core.
"EVs and AFVs are not necessarily any more unsafe than ICE, but whereas the industry has had more than 100 years to develop experience and understanding of ICE, EV/AFV are relatively new."
However, they are the fastest growing part of the vehicle parc and set to replace new vehicles as part of the Road to Zero strategy by 2030. In April alone, more than one-in-four (26.4%) cars produced by UK car makers was electrified, boosted by battery electric vehicle (BEV) output up 38.2%, meaning one-in-10 cars made was powered purely by electricity.
Despite this soaring growth, the group discussed how easy it was to set up a recovery business; with no qualifications, being exempt from most regulations- concluding the industry needs greater regulation. It also noted that some organisations are putting large batteries in recovery vans to provide short charge to EVs that have broken down; they are not EVs but need to be handled carefully as a result. Damaged EVs are dangerous goods.
Another concern highlighted was the conversion to EVs from existing ICE vehicles. There is little or no legislation to deal with adding used batteries to convert vehicles. Government needs to legislate; manufacturers need to educate and ensure safety standards and insurers need to understand the risks they cover
Weeks said: "It should really be against the law to work on these vehicles without the required accreditation, methods, and skills. An EV is fine when you are driving it, but when it crashes it is then a dangerous good."
Mckno added: "EVs may ignite up to four weeks post-accident, which means that having a consistent standard is vital to industry and consumer safety. We support the aim to increase EV/AFV within the parc and we don't believe EV are any less safe than ICE; it is knowledge of how to deal with an EV/AFV when they go wrong that we lack.
"The supply chain processes and rules need to change. This is about asset and customer safety. We also look to the insurers to fundamentally change how they price, underwrite, insure and service these vehicles. Within all areas of claims management there is a need to ensure that FNOL staff are properly trained to manage the specific requirements of EV/AFV post-incident."
Weeks concluded: "Our aim is to understand what happens when things go wrong and how, as an industry, we can help service the Road to Zero. To be there, safely and educated to help customers in their times of need – to return the vehicle to as safe as it was prior to the accident. By coming together as a group, we can improve awareness now and on a continued basis to deliver this."