Tomberlin's Tech Corner
Edition: May/June 2012
Electric vehicles are different from traditional automobiles and the new customer that just purchased that EV from your dealership needs training. First and foremost is safety and then onto other items such as battery care, how to break in the batteries. I strongly suggest implementing a standardized program that provides some basic training to the new customer on the operation and what to expect from their new EV. You may want to break it into a couple of sessions that provides a greater in depth training and includes a tech going over their vehicle with them about one month after they take delivery.
Furthermore, implement service program that sends out notices to the customer to remind that a service is due or pending. These types of services can go a long way in producing customer loyalty and really increase “word of mouth” sales revenue. At the end of the day everybody wants to deal with reputable people they like, trust and know will take care of them and these are excellent opportunities to build these types of relationships with your customer base. Make your customers feel like family. A program such as this is relatively easy to implement as part of the sales and delivery process and will go a long way in preventing customers from being dissatisfied. Remember what Benjamin Franklin said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Develop a 30-60 minute training program to train the new customers in the operation and basic maintenance of their new vehicle. One of the greatest areas that new customers need to be informed on is battery care and maintanence.
Specifically in regards to battery care:
• Train on “Safety” first! Wearing a face shield, rubber gloves and old clothes when working on or around batteries is the only safe way to do so.
• Batteries are powerful and contain very concentrated amounts of energy. Never short or cross the battery terminals and always use insulated wrenches when working on or around batteries.
• Batteries produce “Hydrogen” when charging always charge in a well ventilated area.
- Train them how to check the electrolyte level (or how to operate their battery filling system).
• This is a great opportunity to up sell accessories, watering bottles, watering systems etc.
• Train them how to water the batteries properly and to the proper levels.
• Electrolyte levels should be checked at least every 2 weeks, more if you use the vehicle heavily.
• Overfilling a battery is a huge “NO NO.” Explain to them that if the batteries are over filled it will cause problems and potential damage when the batteries are charged. The batteries will gas during charging and if they are overfilled the electrolyte will come out of the vent system of the battery cap. This can then in turn cause corrosion problems on the terminals of the battery leading to performance problems and cables needing to be replaced. Additionally, the electrolyte can spill over onto the frame and on the ground causing damage to the floor and corrosion on the frame.
• Explain to them that the batteries (like the engine in a new car) must be broken in and there is a way to do it properly. Just like your car if you don’t break the batteries in properly they just will not last as long as they potentially could. With proper care and maintenance the batteries in our vehicles should last 5+ years with normal usage.
• Battery Break-in:
• Try not to discharge the batteries more than 50% during break-in
• It will take 50 to 100 charge cycles to get the batteries “Broken In”
• Never discharge the batteries over 80%
• Once the batteries are “Broken in the vehicle mileage will increase significantly.
• Perform an “Equalization Charge” once every 30 days. This mixes up the electrolyte in the batteries and allows them provide peak performance. To perform an “Equalization Charge” simply charge the batteries as normal. After the charge cycle completes disconnect the charge for a few minutes and then re-connect the charger and allow it to go through the charge cycle a second time.
• Opportunity Charging – plug the charger in every time it is convenient and will also increase the battery life and always assure the vehicle is ready to go.
A knowledgeable trained and well informed customer is a great asset to add to your business and well bring in more traffic.