Class focuses on training hybrid car mechanics - Dallas News |

Class focuses on training hybrid car mechanics

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation, more than 2 million hybrid cars are on the road. As gas prices rise, they're becoming more and more popular. Chattahoochee Technical College is trying to meet a growing demand by training it's students to be a step ahead.

Sally Bigarel traded in her SUV for a hybrid. She's like thousands of others across the nation, hoping for better fuel economy.

"Even with my short stop and starts, I'm getting almost 34 miles to the gallon," said Bigarel.

Her vehicle is under warranty now, but there will be a time when she'll need someone to fix it. Hybrids get great gas mileage, but it takes a specific set of skills to fix them.  

Andy Lindman is hoping his students will be ready to service Bigarel's car when the time comes. He teaches automotive maintenance at Chattahoochee Tech. He used to be a service manager at a dealership and he says mechanics with an expertise in hybrids are rare.

"It was like pulling teeth trying to find someone who actually had some of that base knowledge," said Lindman.

Jonathan Hoffman knows a lot about cars, but says he's here to learn more about hybrids.

"With a hybrid car you have an electric motor and a regular motor. So you have two different motors running. You have a huge electrical system with a battery pack. That sometimes can be underneath the car, or in the back or under the seats or something like that you really don't want to touch or mess with," said Hoffman.

It's the electrical system that's the most dangerous, which is why Lindman teaches safety in addition to technical skills.

"We want them to be able to safely work on lots of the items on the vehicle, for example the electric power steering, electric AC compressor, and do these things without shocking themselves with 650 volts," said Lindman.

Having a specialty in hybrid mechanics makes you more marketable in the job market. Income potential can range between $40,000 and $80,000 a year. For more information on Chattahoochee Tech's programs, click here.

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