Alex’s Auto Repair

Alex’s Auto Repair

Alex’s Auto Repair

Alex’s Auto Repair – Walter Preza works on a car at J&R Auto Repair Shop Mechanic in San Francisco. Photo by Nina Riggio for

Who loses and who gains when California cleans up its cars? Almost 32,000 mechanics would lose their jobs in 2040 due to the planned phase-out of gas-powered cars. Electric companies would be the big winners.

Alex’s Auto Repair

Alex's Auto Repair

The pungent smell of motor oil and grease wafts through the air at JR Automotive in San Francisco when Jesus Rojas lifts the hood of a 2014 Honda Civic to inspect its engine.

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Gasoline-powered vehicles like these have hundreds of moving parts and other components that keep mechanics like Rojas busy. Rojas, 42, has spent much of his life refining the skills to inspect and repair them.

But as California shifts to electric vehicles in its battle against climate change and air pollution, those skills will be needed less and less over the next decade. By 2040, the state projects the loss of nearly 32,000 auto mechanic jobs in California, as electric vehicles require far less maintenance and repairs than traditional combustion engines.

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

In an effort to transition to a carbon-neutral, climate-friendly state, California’s proposal to phase out all new gas-powered cars by 2035 will result in a broad workforce transition.

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Economy-wide, the mandate is expected to result in the loss of 64,700 jobs, according to calculations by the California Airworthiness Board. On the other hand, about 24,900 jobs would be gained in other sectors, so the estimated net loss is 39,800 jobs, a minimal amount over the entire state economy, until 2040.

But no single workforce in the state would be hurt more than auto mechanics: There are about 60,910 auto service technicians and mechanics in California, and more than half of those jobs would be lost over the next two decades if the mandate goes into effect . Air board calculates.

The transition would be phased in over a ten-year period: starting with 2026 models, 35% of new cars and light-duty trucks sold in California would be zero emissions, reaching 51% in 2028, 68 % in 2030 and 100% in 2035. Will the board hold a hearing on June 9 before voting on the proposal in August.

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Alex Dirige, 67, an immigrant from Guam who has worked as a mechanic in San Francisco for more than 30 years, is concerned that the transition to electric cars will threaten the livelihoods of vulnerable groups such as undocumented immigrants and that it will leave many auto repair workers. the country. Industry as a whole.

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The trade provides a steady and reliable income in California for many workers without a college degree. On average, mechanics statewide earn about $26 an hour or $54,190 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“A lot of mechanics who started working see that there is no long-term future in the car repair business, with hybrids and electric cars coming out,” said Dirige. “The electric vehicle repair market is almost non-existent. A lot of them want to be in this field but they might choose to go into other types of employment.

California is already suffering the adverse effects of climate change—harming its economy, not just its public health and environment. About 40% of its greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, the most of any sector, so state leaders say reducing dependence on gasoline and moving to electric cars is critical to avoid more catastrophic effects.

The retail trade sector, which includes gas station workers and auto and parts dealers, would lose 38,669 jobs in 2040 or about 2% of the retail workforce. Most of the losses would be at gasoline stations. As the electric vehicle fleet grows, Air Board officials project gas stations could provide charging to offset the losses.

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Part of the loss in the retail sector is due to lower disposable income. Electric cars now cost more to buy, although prices will drop and maintenance will cost much less, costing about $3,200 over the life of a car in 2026 and $7,500 a car in 2035, according to the Air Board.

Another 20,831 state and local government jobs would be eliminated because of the reduction in gas tax revenue.

But the transition to electric cars will also create thousands of jobs. Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and other companies in the power industry would benefit the most, with the creation of about 5,600 jobs in 2040 as car owners spend more on electricity to power their vehicles. Insurance carriers will benefit from around 1,700 new jobs, while the construction industry is expected to gain around 3,600.

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Given that few vehicles are manufactured in California, the state is unlikely to see a manufacturing boom in response to the mandate. Of the 44 major auto assembly plants in the US,

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Mechanics who work on internal combustion engines will still have plenty of work: the rule won’t ban the sale of used cars, and it won’t force city residents to stop driving the roughly 29 million gas-powered cars that already exist drive yourself. road Californians may stop importing new or used vehicles from the state.

That means Californians will still have plenty of gas-powered cars after 2035, softening the blow for auto mechanics and industries that rely on fossil fuels, said James Sallee, an economist and research associate at the University of California’s Energy Institute. Berkeley Haas School. Business.

Sallee said the changes won’t happen quickly enough to trigger a sharp economic slowdown in the auto repair industry.

“It’s when there’s rapid and rapid change that we think workers are hurt the most because they can’t relocate cheaply and quickly,” Sallee said. “So it’s important that people keep in perspective that this is a slow-moving process, not a dramatic and super-quick shift away from the demand for gasoline stations or oil changes. It’s something that will happen over a longer period of time. .”

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Electric cars use less fluid, such as motor oil, and fewer moving parts than a traditional car. Brake systems also last longer because of regenerative braking, which converts energy from the brake pads into electricity to recharge the battery, according to the US. it. Department of Energy. They also lack mufflers, radiators and exhaust systems.

“It’s a slow-moving process, not a dramatic and super-fast shift away from demand at gasoline stations or oil changes.” James Sallee, Energy Institute, UC Berkeley

But auto mechanics warned that while most operating and maintenance costs are lower for electric vehicles, some parts can be more expensive to replace. Rojas added that electric car owners may face problems later that they haven’t thought about yet.

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

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Additionally, other services like replacing a windshield on a car like a Tesla, which has sensors and computerized features, can cost anywhere from $1,100 to $2,000, he said, compared to $200 and $500 on a normal wind shield. .

“Because the car is still under warranty from the dealer, nothing comes out of pocket now,” said Rojas. “But as soon as the vehicle gets older, they will be more expensive.”

Although sales of zero-emission vehicles have been steadily increasing in recent years, Californians continue to drive primarily gas-powered cars. Electric cars in 2021 accounted for around 3% of all cars on the road but 12.4% of car sales

Some mechanics doubt that consumer behavior can change as quickly as the air board thinks. The proposal would require an overhaul of charging stations and new building codes.

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“It is almost impossible to make all these changes by 2035,” said Dirige. “We don’t have the infrastructure to make all electric vehicles. We barely have it now. And if you ask people, they’re afraid they’ll have a car that runs without electricity, and they’ll be stuck somewhere.”

Rojas and his business partner, Raul Perez, employ two other mechanics, also Latino immigrants, who perform routine services such as oil changes and tuneups.

Rojas said mechanics have to invest thousands of dollars of their own money to buy special equipment and tools. Some could use the tools and skills they already have to service electric cars, as the cars would still need cosmetic repairs, tire rotations and battery inspections.

Alex's Auto Repair

But many people will not be able to retrain for a new career or learn new skills in complex areas

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