The Independent Garage Association (IGA) is calling for clarification to the new UK Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Order (MVBEO) as it runs through a technical consultation.
The existing Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) was retained after Brexit. However, while the European Union has extended these regulations beyond their expiry at the end of May this year, the UK must draft up new legislation of its own now it is no longer tied to EU law. The result is the MVBEO, which has been recommended for approval by the Competitions and Markets Authority.
Time is running out for the MVBEO to be agreed and written into law. The new legislation is currently running through a technical consultation, with lawmakers invited to ensure its wording and procedures are correct. The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 1st March. As the existing MVBER expires on 31st May 2023, this leaves less than three months for the new plans to be passed.
MVBEO needs to offer clear information
The IGA wants the new MVBEO to ensure that consumers are given clear information on their freedom to choose who repairs their vehicles and are not financially disadvantaged by the new regulation.
“While the draft MVBEO legislation strengthens many areas of the existing MVBER, there are several areas which could be detrimental to consumers unless further clarifications are made,” stated Stuart James, IGA Chief Executive.
“Of particular concern is the lack of requirement for in-vehicle messaging to inform customers that they have an alternative solution for servicing via an independent operator. We would also like to see a requirement for authorised repairers to make it clear to consumers that they can choose who services, maintains and repairs their vehicle without invalidating its warranty.
With the increase in connected vehicle services, carmakers could have direct access to vehicle data, including MIL information, which they could use to advise drivers of problems and recommend their own services. This would create a block to the independent garage sector, something that the industry has fought against for many years.
Additionally, the misinformation around vehicle warranties and where repairs can be carried out have continued despite the best efforts of the aftermarket. Therefore, having protection and strong recommendations in the new MVBEO would go a long way to helping the independent aftermarket remain competitive.
Repair data access crucial for new MVBEO
Access to repair data is also a remaining issue within the aftermarket, despite the industry continuing to fight for fair access to vehicle data. Many carmakers use the excuse of security to prevent such access, despite calls for a system to be put in place.
“In addition, the MVBEO makes no reference to a mechanism for independent operators to access security related information for repairs,” added James. “Whilst we understand access to such sensitive information needs an element of control, it is vital that there is a recognised system in place for vetted businesses or individuals to provide these services to consumers to ensure fair competition and timely access to vehicle repairs.
“As the voice of the UK’s independent garage sector, the IGA has responded to the MVBEO technical consultation with a comprehensive set of recommendations and will continue to provide feedback at every step to ensure that the MVBEO safeguards freedom of choice and fair competition for UK motorists.”