BMW Invests in Tech Training Centers for EV Expansion

BMW's strategy on shifting to electrification gave rise to investments in US-based technician training centers. BMW plans to release 25 electric cars over the next four years, while previously this objective was expected to be achieved by 2025. To reach this goal and to maintain high standards of professional after-sales support services, the German carmaker is going to invest $56 mln in technical service centers.

BMW has already reported about the opening of 2 training facilities, in Spartanburg, S.C., and Atlanta, and the expansion of 2 existing centers to provide comprehensive training classes to technicians, who will be specialized in repair of all sorts of issues occurring in e-drivetrains. These classes will also touch upon new technologies implemented in modern cars.

According to the representative of BMW aftersales, centers will help young tech specialists to delve into technical peculiarities of the most sophisticated and complex units of modern cars such as driver assistance solutions, software programming, powertrain mechanics, and much more. Even traffic collision repair of new cars stuffed with a lot of electronic components has become more complex. For example, such a simple procedure like painting a bumper must be implemented quite carefully without harming the sensors and cameras installed in the component. In addition to new powertrain elements, e-cars are made of cutting-edge materials, and technicians must know how to work with such materials in the most accurate manner possible. All in all, BMW wants to push its technicians to a new level of workmanship.

While new facilities are mainly aimed to deal with challenges of the future electrification processes in the auto industry, the expansion of 2 existing centers is also a compulsory measure required to tackling today's problems. This investment is a strategic step that will significantly increase BMW's tech training potential (approximately by 50 %) and strengthen the pool of 12,000 repair specialists that support BMW dealer centers in the U.S.

The auto giants have long been experiencing issues related to shortages of manufacturing and engineering specialists. But now the industry also has to deal with insufficient numbers of professional service technicians. According to NADA, the retail auto industry needs approximately 76,000 new technicians yearly to fill expected gaps on the labor market in this field. Currently, the industry is facing an annual shortage of thirty-nine thousand repair professionals. Each year, dealer centers lose approximately from 10 to 15 % of their tech staff due to retirement and attrition.

More than eight thousand repair specialists take part in training programs organized by BMW training programs on a yearly basis. BMW also finds technicians of the future via its Service Technician Education Program, a special course for graduates of tech institutions. For more than two decades of the program’s existence, almost 5,200 applicants have completed it, and the majority of the graduates received job offers from BMW dealer centers.

At the same time, the task of training a sufficient number of skilled techs is complicated by the growing number of electric vehicles (EV) on the road. BMW analysts predict the annual growth of EVs to increase by 30% in the future. Last year, the German carmaker increased global sales of e-cars by 38.4 % to a combined 142,617 BMWs and Minis. BMW predicts that its EV sales on a worldwide scale will reach half a million units by year end.

Learn more about BMW electrification strategy

The process of electrification is gaining momentum in the auto industry and this trend will certainly have some impact on the set of professional requirements imposed on job applicants by auto dealer centers. The list of currently offered services at dealerships is expected to be significantly reduced, as EVs won’t need such popular maintenance services as oil change and filter replacement, as well as radiator repairs or drive belt replacements. Instead, the new generation of tech specialists must have enough knowledge and expertise capable to work with sophisticated electronics, vehicle computer features and cutting edge sensing and communications systems.

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