New York, New York – Hybrids and electric vehicles may prove problematic for repair shops in the future, with many reporting that they are not set up to service the vehicles, according to a new report from market research company Frost & Sullivan.

More than 40 per cent of independent installers said that their garages were not equipped to service hybrids, while almost 60 per cent said they could not repair or maintain electric vehicles (EVs).

Hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and EVs such as the Chevrolet Volt have fewer engine belts, filters and fuel system parts, but more sensors, actuators and advanced electrical components, the report noted, and have components that are not found on conventional automobiles, such as heater pumps and electric compressors. They require less routine maintenance than conventional automobiles, but have expensive high-voltage components that could drive their overall repair costs higher than a conventional vehicle over its lifespan.

Hybrids and EVs represented less than three per cent of new-vehicle sales in 2009 and it may take several more years before owners can obtain parts and service in the independent aftermarket. The report said that due to the small number of such vehicles on the road and the likelihood of their being serviced at the dealership with original parts, manufacturers are not tooling up to produce the replacement parts these vehicles will need in the future, and aftermarket service professionals are not seeking out the training and equipment required to repair and maintain these vehicles. Frost & Sullivan forecasts that an estimated two million hybrids will receive parts and service in the aftermarket by 2015, and parts and service providers must learn to maintain and repair these vehicles.

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