Area dealerships expand maintenance and repair jobs as fleets in California shift to zero-emissions
WHITTIER, Calif. November 30, 2023– Technicians from Velocity Vehicle Group, one of the largest full-service commercial truck dealerships in the U.S, guided students from Rio Hondo College’s electric vehicle maintenance program through the dealer group’s Whittier maintenance shop for an up-close look at the diverse career opportunities available due to growing zero-emission vehicle market share. With an increasing number of fleets in California transitioning to battery-electric trucks (BETs), Velocity and other area dealerships are investing in workforce development initiatives for maintenance and repair technicians to ensure the smooth operation of electric trucks and charging infrastructure.
“California’s recently adopted Advanced Clean Fleets rule will further accelerate adoption of commercial electric vehicles and the need for technicians familiar with the technology to fill these specialized maintenance jobs,” said Jason Shearer, vice president of service, Velocity Vehicle Group. “To prepare for the transition, Velocity has designed an apprenticeship program with a ‘grow your own’ approach to encourage young talent to work with us through retirement. From the start, recruits learn all aspects of the dealership business, from battery basics and writing warranties, to developing excellent customer service skills for a prosperous career in commercial trucking.”
The tour was organized as part of a workforce development initiative within the Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative (JETSI) project – a landmark initiative that will deploy 100 Class 8 BETs across Southern California and demonstrate strategies to successfully scale market penetration of zero-emission technologies. Through the JETSI project, Velocity is responsible for maintaining a fleet of 50 Class 8 Freightliner eCascadias that Schneider National deployed into its intermodal operations in Southern California.
During the visit, 22 automotive technology students from Rio Hondo College learned about the skills required for maintaining Class 8 BETs and the crucial role Velocity plays in helping Schneider maximize the benefits of their Freightliner eCascadia fleet. To succeed in this field, technicians need to acquire knowledge in battery systems, advanced power management software, regenerative braking, and high-voltage electrical systems. Safety training modules are also essential to ensure the well-being of staff working with these advanced technologies.
Rio Hondo College student, Vanessa Salazar, will complete her first semester in the automotive technology program. Inspired by her truck driver father, she recently earned her CLD license and now wanted to learn about the technical side of trucking. Salazar shared, “I love driving trucks and wanted to learn more. The technicians today talked about needing a passion for this industry—that you have to love trucks, and I feel the same way.”
Classmate Eddie Ebdel is looking for a job working solely on electric vehicles after he graduates in December. Ebdel’s interest in EVs grew when he bought a hybrid car, noting, “The conversion from diesel to electric is the direction of the future. By 2035, many trucks and vehicles are going that route, and I want to be part of this electric revolution.”
Rio Hondo College’s automotive technology program equips students with skills to advanced engine performance in alternative fuels, battery-electric, and fuel cell technology. The school introduced a technician program specifically focused on heavy-duty electric truck maintenance in 2020. The first group of graduates entered the workforce in 2021 after completing comprehensive coursework and on-site training through apprentice programs, like those offered through Velocity.
“The JETSI project helps us develop the workforce to educate and train my students, so when they leave the classroom, they are ready for the new technology and the jobs that are being created today in the heavy-duty electric vehicle sector,” said John Frala, Rio Hondo College professor of alternative fuels and electric cars program. “Thanks to the opportunity for my students to tour Velocity’s maintenance shop, they are able to see the importance of the education they need to have and how that investment is being put into the green transportation industry.”
Velocity supports regional workforce development and fostering the next generation of skilled technicians in the electric vehicle industry through its apprentice program. By collaborating with educational institutions like Rio Hondo College, Velocity is bridging the skills gap and meeting the increasing demand for qualified professionals in the commercial electric vehicle maintenance sector. Velocity’s apprenticeship program retains a high volume of recruits, offering incentives such as tuition reimbursement or gifting them with their own set of high-end tools.
About Velocity Vehicle Group
Velocity Vehicle Group (Velocity) is one of the largest full-service commercial truck dealerships in the U.S., with operations that include new and used commercial vehicle sales, service, parts distribution, and vehicle rental and leasing. Established in 1998, Velocity today operates a network of nearly 80 state-of-the-art dealerships, service centers, and leasing facilities across seven U.S. states, in addition to an international footprint in Australia and Mexico. Velocity’s 3,500 employees are customer-focused based on the three company pillars of speed, value, and trust. Velocity is a leading distributor for 14 brands of original equipment manufacturers in the medium- and heavy-duty truck sector, and the exclusive U.S. distributor for the Daimler Truck Group’s RIZON brand of electric trucks, providing a comprehensive sales and service network. In addition to commercial vehicle sales with more than 9,000 trucks sold in 2022, Velocity offers full-service leases through its Velocity Truck Rental and Leasing subsidiary and participates in equipment finance through its Crossroads Equipment Lease and Finance program. Based in Whittier, California, Velocity is a leader in implementing emissions-reducing vehicle technologies, including natural gas, cleaner diesel, and electric. For more information www.velocityvehiclegroup.com.
About the JETSI Project
The JETSI project is a landmark initiative that will deploy 100 Class 8 battery electric trucks (BETs) across Southern California to demonstrate strategies to successfully scale market penetration of zero-emission technologies. JETSI is the first battery electric truck project jointly funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission (CEC), which together awarded the project $27 million. Additional funding was provided by South Coast AQMD, MSRC, the San Pedro Bay Ports and SCE. The JETSI project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities. Learn more at www.JETSIproject.com.