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‘How to get business?’: Motor workshops face uncertain future as Singapore moves towards electric vehicles

Despite that, some workshops might be wary of sending their employees for EV courses, Mr Ong said.

“With this kind of knowledge, there’s a likelihood they might jump somewhere else. So, a lot of companies are also quite reluctant to send workers for this type of upgrading courses,” he explained.

“For other workshops with owners up to my age, if they can’t deal with all this sort of electronic stuff, or if they have no successors for the business, then likely they will wrap up.”

Back at AutoCity in Sin Ming, Ricardo Auto Center director Jeremy Soh believes it is only a “matter of time” that EVs are widely adopted, saying that his workshop will move towards EV-applicable maintenance.

This includes aesthetic-related areas like tires and rims as well as undercarriage maintenance like wheel alignments and suspension changes.

“For us, we don’t intend to just call it a day. We will try to pivot to newer areas where you can still work on EVs,” the 41-year-old said.

“We are also doing financing, insurance and things like that. So, it’s not just about operating a workshop for us.”

But Mr Soh said he will not be “jumping straight into” sending his employees for EV courses as they are currently “very basic”.

“We might even have to send our boys overseas instead, rather than training in Singapore,” he added.

TECHNICAL CHALLENGES

While Mr Keh of SMWA acknowledged that the current EV courses are basic, he stressed that they have to be foundational at the start to cater to technicians who might have little formal education, especially since many of them are foreigners.

He said SMWA has conducted a “few runs” of the courses together with engineering company Robert Bosch for a total of 70 technicians thus far.

In fact, Mr Keh is concerned about the national plan to roll out certification courses as they might prove too complicated for technicians.

“Because you are training someone only with primary school knowledge, and you straight away want to go to a diploma course,” he said, adding that he will bring this up with LTA.

Despite that, Mr Keh suggested that no course can currently prepare technicians for the nitty-gritty of servicing EVs, pointing to how EV manufacturers do not sell their vehicle spare parts, motors or circuit diagrams in Singapore to protect their intellectual property.

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