Last summer I persuaded the boss, and more importantly our finance director to let me buy some winter tyres for some of our vehicles, after convincing them that it would keep our drivers on the road, especially the vans, to get to important jobs, that needed immediate attention. 

Each driver took their own vehicles to get the tyres changed in early December and we arranged for storage of the ‘summer’ tyres. I have lots of experience with winter tyres, and think they are wonderful – although I’m not exactly sure how they work, but they just do. Anyway, it looks like I’ve ended up with egg on my face over all these expensive purchases, with the cost of storage etc, as the winter tyres came off last week and the regular tyres are back on. 

All our drivers told me that there might have only been one day throughout winter that they have actually needed the tyres, as the weather wasn’t too bad, with hardly any snow. One driver was stupid enough to tell the boss the tyres had been a waste of time and money, as they were not needed at all where he lives. I still intend to put the winters back on this December, as I see them more as an insurance policy than an extravagance – although our FD and boss don’t necessarily agree with me. But keeping our vehicles on the road, keeping our drivers working safely is very important to me, an expensive policy to have.

We still only have two electric cars on our small fleet, and one charge point in the car park, just in case one of our drivers happens to pop in and wants to charge their car (for free). The charge point though does have other uses – it’s a great meeting place for mid-morning, lunch, and afternoon breaks, you can also put your mug on it, very handy. It’s the outdoor version of the indoor water cooler.

I, like so many people, tend to take older vehicles to ‘the local man in the village’ small independent garage. Our local one employs three very good mechanics, who will come out in their very scruffy overalls, look under the bonnet, scratch their head, stroke their chins, and tell you what the problem is. Tell you to bring it back in two days, and it will be fixed that day, plus they’re usually cheap, and reliable.

When I was in recently, I asked if they would be able to service older electric cars and sort any problems the owner might have. Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could take your 4, 5, or 6-year-old EV to get it fixed locally – by someone you know and trust, what a good idea. Surely, that would give buyers of used electric cars the confidence to take them to the garage they’ve always used for any repairs. The answer from the owner was a very resounding ‘not a chance’. He said they would need lots of training, specialist equipment, and need two mechanics for some reason to work on one vehicle. He said: “It just can’t be one, and it’s just not worth it for small independents.” In fact, he said couldn’t see it happening at all. So, all EVs need to go back to a main dealer, be booked in, then wait for weeks for it to be looked at due to the lack of trained, qualified technicians!

I did call one of the ‘high street’ service centres, who will service an EV, but they were very limited as to what they will touch. They told me, they will replace tyres, brakes, brake fluid, lights, and cabin filters. But that’s about it, and can’t do any repairs to any of the drivetrain or electrics, so again, it’s back to the main dealer.

Some of our vans are coming up for replacement in the next few months, but I have been told by one manufacturer that I can’t order diesel vans, unless I agree to take ten 10% of the order as electric vans. Our drivers will just not accept these because of where they live, the mileage they do, and the inconvenience it will cause to their daily working schedule, so, I won’t be buying any of their vans. 

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