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California car will hurt mechanics badly – Daily News

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By Nadia Lopez | CalMatters

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The pungent smell of engine oil and grease wafts into the air of JR Automotive as Jesus Rojas lifts the hood of a 2014 Honda Civic to check its engine.

Gasoline-powered vehicles like this have hundreds of moving parts and other components that keep mechanics like Rojas busy. Rojas, 42, has spent most of his life honing the specialized skills needed to inspect and repair it.

But as California turns to electric cars in its battle against climate change and air pollution, these skills will be needed less and less over the next decade. By 2040, the state expects that nearly 32,000 California auto mechanic jobs will be lost because electric vehicles require far less maintenance and repair than traditional combustion engines.

“I’m not against electric cars,” said Rojas, who immigrated to the Bay Area from Mexico as a teenager and opened his own shop 11 years ago. “I’ve always loved cars and I’m going to work on them until I can’t. So we have to adapt. We have to get out of our comfort zones.”

In an effort to transform into a carbon-neutral and climate-friendly country, California’s proposal to Phasing out all new gas-powered cars by 2035 It will lead to a large scale workforce transition.

Across the economy, an estimated 64,700 jobs will be lost due to the mandate, according to California Air Resources Board calculations. On the other hand, an estimated 24,900 jobs will be gained in other sectors, so the estimated net loss is 39,800 jobs, the minimum for the entire state’s economy, by 2040.

But not a single state workforce will be hurt more than a car mechanic: California has been hit 60910 Car Service Technician & MechanicMore than half of those jobs will be lost over the next two decades if the mandate goes into effect, the Air Council calculates.

The transition will be phased over more than a decade: Starting with 2026 models, 35% of new cars and light trucks sold in California will be zero-emissions, reaching 51% in 2028, 68% in 2030, and 100% in 2035. The Board will hold a hearing on 9 June before voting on the proposal in August.

Alex Derig, 67, an immigrant from Guam who has worked as a mechanic in San Francisco for more than 30 years, worries that the transition to electric vehicles will threaten the livelihoods of vulnerable groups such as undocumented immigrants and cause many auto repair workers to leave the industry altogether.

The trade provides a stable and reliable income in California to many workers who do not have a college degree. On average, mechanics across the state earn about $26 an hour or $54,190 a year, according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Many mechanics who are starting out see there is no long-term future in the auto repair business, with the advent of hybrids and electric cars,” Derig said. “The electric car repair market is almost non-existent. Many of them would love to be in this field but may choose to work in other types of jobs.”

Who loses and who gains jobs?

California is already suffering from the ill effects of climate change — which is hurting its economy, not just public health and its environment. About 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, the largest of any sector, so state leaders say reducing dependence on gasoline and moving toward electric vehicles is critical to avoiding further catastrophic impacts.

Some industries gain jobs while others lose them as the country switches to zero-emissions vehicles.

The retail sector, which includes gas station workers and auto and parts dealers, will lose 38,669 jobs by 2040 or about 2% of the retail workforce. Most of the losses will be at petrol stations. As the electric vehicle fleet grows, air panel officials expect gas stations to provide charging to make up for the losses.

Some of the losses in the retail sector are due to lower disposable income. Electric cars now cost more to buy, though prices will drop and maintenance will cost much less, saving about $3,200 for a 2026 car and $7,500 for a 2035 car, according to Air Panel.

Another 20,831 jobs in state and local government will be cut due to lower gas tax revenues.

But the transition to electric cars will also create thousands of jobs. Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and other energy makers will benefit by creating about 5,600 jobs by 2040 as car owners spend more on electricity to power their cars. Insurance companies will benefit about 1,700 new jobs, while the construction industry is expected to gain about 3,600.

Since few vehicles are manufactured in California, it is unlikely that the state will see an increase in manufacturing in response to the mandate. Of the 44 major auto assembly plants in the United States, most are located in the Midwest and South, according to a 2021 report From the International Council on Clean Transportation, a non-profit research organization.

change “slow motion”

The mechanics working on internal combustion engines will still have a lot of work to do: The rule won’t ban used-car sales, nor will it force state residents to stop driving the nearly 29 million gas-powered cars already on the road. Californians can also continue to import new or used vehicles from outside the state.

This means Californians will still own plenty of gas-powered cars after 2035, mitigating the impact of auto mechanics and industries that rely on fossil fuels. James SallyEconomist and Research Associate at the University of California’s Energy Institute, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

Sally said the changes won’t happen fast enough to trigger a severe economic slowdown in the auto repair industry.

“When there are quick and rapid changes, we think the biggest damage is to the workers because they cannot move freely and quickly,” Sally said. “So it is important for people to see that it is a slow-moving process, not a dramatic, rapid shift away from demand for petrol stations or an oil change. It would be something that happens over a longer period of time.”

Electric cars contain fewer fluids, such as motor oil, and fewer moving parts than conventional cars. Brake systems also last longer due to regenerative braking, which converts energy from the brake pads into electricity to recharge the battery, according to US Department of Energy. It also does not have mufflers, radiators and exhaust systems.

But auto mechanics caution that while most operating and maintenance costs are lower for electric cars, replacing some parts may be more expensive. Rojas also said that electric car owners may face problems in the future that they haven’t thought of yet.

Electric cars tend to weigh more than conventional cars, which means they need special tires that can handle a heavier load. These can cost between $200 and $300 per tire, Rojas said, compared to an average of $50 to $150 for a gas-powered vehicle.

Plus, other services like replacing the windshield of a car like Tesla, which has computerized sensors and features, can cost anywhere from $1,100 to $2,000, he said, compared to $200 and $500 for a conventional car windshield. .

“Since the car is still under dealer warranty, nothing comes out of the pocket now,” said Rojas. “But once a car gets old, it gets more expensive.”

While zero-emission vehicle sales have steadily increased in recent years, Californians continue to drive primarily gas-powered cars. Electric cars in 2021 About 3% of all cars on the road but 12.4% of car sales.

Some mechanics suspect that consumer behavior can change as quickly as the Air Board believes. The proposal would require an overhaul of new charging stations and building codes.

“It is almost impossible to make all of these changes by 2035,” Derig said. We don’t have the infrastructure to use all electric vehicles. We hardly have it now. And if you ask people, they are afraid that they will end up in a car that will run out of electricity and get stuck somewhere.”

Mechanics will need new skills or new jobs

Rojas and his business partner, Raul Perez, hire two other mechanics, who are also Latino immigrants, who do routine services like oil changes and tuning.

Rojas said mechanics would have to invest thousands of dollars of their own money to buy special equipment and tools. Some can use their existing tools and skills to service electric cars, because cars still need cosmetic repairs, tire rotations and a battery check.

But many will not be able to afford to retrain for a new profession or learn new skills in complex fields such as electrical engineering needed to repair hybrid and electric models.

“If the government is interested in helping us economically to retrain us, it could really help people who may be suffering but want to learn,” he said.

Jesus Rojas, right, and Raul Mann Perez, left, owners of J&R Auto Repair at their San Francisco store, Thursday, May 12, 2022. Photo by Nina Reggio for CalMatters

Shane Gusman, a lobbyist for the international Muslim Brotherhood, said state leaders should help fund the retraining of workers who have lost their jobs due to state efforts to combat climate change.

“Unions are not standing in the way of responsible climate protection policies and trying to slow climate change,” he said. But we all need to think about the impact on workers. We need to try to come up with policies that protect the workforce, and that ultimately protect our economy.”

To minimize job losses from the zero-emissions vehicle mandate, the Air Council says in its report that “policy options could be considered for job retraining and transportation support, particularly for low-income individuals.”

State Senator Josh Baker, a Democrat from San MateoAnd agreed. “The path to zero,” he said, “needs to foster new, well-paid middle-class jobs, and work to shift those jobs out of the fossil fuel industries.”

“It is true that it is easier to talk about the energy transition when our jobs are not threatened by it,” he said.

Association member Maratsushi, who chairs the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies, introduced AB 1966, which will create a government fund to help retrain workers and move them from the fossil fuel industry to other non-polluting sectors. The funds will also provide wage substitution and insurance, retirement guarantees, health care options, and peer counseling, he said.

The bill, however, won’t help the auto mechanic.

“We all know that change can be difficult for anyone,” he said. “We need to transition to a clean energy economy in a way that leaves no one behind.”

The Governor’s Office for Planning and Research is also working on developing a ‘Just go’ roadmap to guide state policies.

For now, Rojas said he is focusing on the day-to-day operations of his business. The shop is busy, serving about 40 to 50 cars per week, and Rojas and his team are seeing more hybrids. He said he supports the state’s plan, and hopes that other workers will be involved in his industry.

“This industry, it’s always changing,” said Rojas. “But a lot of mechanics, they don’t want to change, they just want to do what they are good at and that’s a problem. We need people who are willing to learn because we have to adapt.”

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