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AAA World | Auto
Alternatives Limited for Non-Dealer EV Service

EV owners who prefer to use independent non-dealer maintenance providers find their choices are limited—here’s why

At a recent electric vehicle (EV) car show, an onlooker had an interesting concern. She would not, she said, get an EV until independent mechanics could service it. It’s a valid concern.

Thus far, a secondary—non-dealer or manufacturer—service industry has been slow to develop for EVs, as opposed to what’s available for most vehicles with gasoline or diesel engines, whose owners can choose from a wide range of repair shops. 

Two Teslas at traffic light

The reasons for this are many. Prime among them is the limited number of EVs currently registered and on the road. That total now stands at fewer than 1.5 million—one-third of them in California— a fraction of the total vehicle registration count of 276 million. Undoubtedly, as EV sales climb and demand for maintenance and repair providers grows, there will be an increasing number of independent service providers. 

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One owner of an independent shop told me that he has been working on EVs for years—by which he meant that he services hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius. But nearly all of this service work is focused on the parts associated with the gasoline engine and replacement of 12-volt batteries. These are not the larger batteries that help move the car down the road. So far, he has not seen a level of demand in his area to justify investing in the training and testing equipment that would be needed to be a full-service provider for EVs.

Technician working on an Electric Vehicle

A further disincentive to maintenance providers to begin servicing EVs is the reduced need for maintenance and repair that these vehicles have demonstrated to date, compared with cars with internal combustion engines. The combination of few vehicles with fewer needs for service obviously makes developing a healthy secondary service industry difficult.

Undoubtedly, more independent EV service centers are coming. When they will be available in sufficient quantity to satisfy those who prefer not to use dealer maintenance remains an unanswered question.