When Matt Peterson was a kid, he loved helping his father fix the family car in the driveway. Every time one of his neighbors stepped outside and popped the hood, he was there to watch and learn. But …
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When Matt Peterson was a kid, he loved helping his father fix the family car in the driveway. Every time one of his neighbors stepped outside and popped the hood, he was there to watch and learn.
But the days of people maintaining their own cars are largely gone, Peterson said. Vehicles even 20 to 25 years old are so computerized and technologically advanced, it's difficult for owners to repair mechanical issues on their own. Enter hybrid and electric vehicles, a growing market in the state and nation, and the task grows far more difficult.
Today Peterson and his partner, Grant Mansur, are getting their auto repair shop off the ground with a goal of helping all customers — gas, hybrid and electric vehicle drivers.
Solar Automotive Repair opened on Feb. 3 in Castle Rock and services all three vehicle types. In its first two weeks, the shop fixed up 25 vehicles, service manager Chanc Berndt said, most of which were gas.
Peterson and Mansur want to offer traditional gas-vehicle services, but if electric vehicles and hybrids are the future, they also want to be “the first guy on the block” in the Castle Rock market, Peterson said.
“Probably in another decade, I'd say 50% of the cars that will be sold will be some sort of hybrid or electric car on the road,” Peterson said. “All the manufacturers, that's where they're headed.”
The global stock of electric passenger cars surpassed 5 million in 2018, a 63% increase from 2017, according to the Global EV Outlook 2019 report from the International Energy Agency. China has the most electric cars on the road, followed by Europe and then the United States.
In Colorado, there are more than 25,500 EVs on the road. Counties with the most EVs are Boulder County with nearly 4,500 and Denver County with more than 3,900. Boulder and Denver are followed by other counties near the Denver metro area, such as Jefferson and Arapahoe. There are nearly 2,300 EVs on the road in Douglas County.
And the number of EVs for sale in the state is expected to keep growing. The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission voted 8-1 in August to adopt an alternate Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Rule. That means as of Jan. 2, 2022, automakers will be required to sell more EVs.
Mansur became a certified master hybrid technician in 2018 after attending a course from A.T.T.S. Inc. in New York. The “pretty intense” class covered nearly 40 hours of material in three days, Mansur said, and taught them how to work on vehicles from ranging from a hybrid Prius to full-electric vehicles.
Working on hybrid and electric vehicles can pose a risk of electrocution if safety protocols aren't followed, he said. Vehicles can range from as low as 42 volts up to 400 volts.
“There's a lot of safety precautions that can go on here and if you're not careful it can kill you,” he said.
Fellow Castle Rock auto shop owner John Manka said most shops will work on hybrid vehicles, but he's still watching consumer trends before gearing up to service electric vehicles. He believes more shops like Solar will pop up in the future as consumers look to EVs more.
“Just like anything else, the marketplace will adapt,” he said. “If I start seeing more and more of these then we'll up our education and buy the equipment.”
At present, Manka's 1 Stope Tire & Auto shop isn't set up to work on electric vehicles, which often require special scanners and disabling the battery to make fixes. They'll handle work on gas-parts in hybrids.
“If there was an issue (with electric vehicles), I would recommend they go back to the dealer primarily because this is still relatively new technology,” he said. “But there are places like Solar, and I know there's one up in Boulder.”
Solar Automotive Repair also aims to be entirely solar powered by this spring. Not only is it good for the environment, Mansur said, but it's smart business and should save them on electricity bills.
“We can run a business and not create any additional pollution in the world, and also it will save us money,” Peterson said. “You can run a business and not increase your carbon footprint.”
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