This situation inspired him to form the Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Repair Alliance (Hevra) in 2017. “Run by EV drivers for EV drivers,” proclaims its website. It sounds like just a marketing slogan, except Hevra really is a band of EV enthusiasts who pool their knowledge for the benefit of members and customers.
If Hevra doesn’t have the answer to an EV problem, it will dispatch one of its engineers to the troubled garage to help find it.
“I relish being called to a fresh problem,” says Gary Clayton, a Hevra support specialist and former IT professional. I’ve met him – one of 160 Hevra members – at Good Guys to learn more about how the organisation operates. “We harvest fault intelligence from member garages and, by combining it with our skills in diagnostics, help them get to the root of EV problems quickly,” he neatly summarises.
Fault codes and interpreting them correctly is a major issue. He recalls a Renault Zoe that wouldn’t start or charge, which he recovered from a main dealer. “The car was displaying a fault code that appeared to show the motor controller was at fault,” he says. “The main dealer workshop had quoted the customer £3500 to fix it. We discovered that the problem was simply a cracked main fuse.”
Another fault code that Hevra members encounter is “high voltage loss of isolation”. This suggests there’s a power leakage between the battery pack and the chassis, but even so, it stumps many technicians. “The only solution is to put on insulated gloves, grab an insulation resistance tester and hunt for the leakage,” says Clayton. “In fact, the air-conditioning compressor is often to blame.” Hevra’s members pride themselves not only on diagnosing faults quickly but also on fixing rather than replacing failed parts. To this end, and because individual parts for EVs are so hard to come by (for example, no manufacturer yet supplies individual battery cells, meaning the whole battery pack must be purchased at considerable cost), many keep one or two EVs to break for spares. In fact, Good Guys is one of the UK’s biggest sources of used parts for the Nissan Leaf.