Effective implementation for Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Order needed

More detail on how new Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Order (MVBEO) proposals will be implemented to support both consumers and the aftermarket is needed, according to the UK Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair (UK AFCAR).

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is recommending to the to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Jacob Rees-Mogg, that the retained Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations (MVBER) should be replaced by a MVBEO, which should remain in place until 31st May 2029.

The UK inherited the current MVBER when it left the European Union. While the EU has sought to extend MVBER, the UK has been left to forge its own path, and the aftermarket has been waiting for the findings of a consultation earlier this year. 

In its recommendations, the CMA said that “the new MVBEO should be tailored to meet the specific needs of UK businesses and consumers and reflects the board consensus of responses to its consultation,” heavily contributed to by UK AFCAR. 

“The MVBEO should be broadly similar to the existing MVBER to ensure continuity for businesses, whilst providing some amendments to improve and reflect market developments,” the report added.

Positives in Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Order

On key areas outlined by UK AFCAR, the CMA has responded positively stating that “the definition of ‘spare parts’ should clearly include lubricants and encompass all software together with activation / configuration codes for replacement parts and components, which are strictly necessary to fit those parts or to replace or update components or systems of the vehicle, which are necessary for the use or operation of a motor vehicle, with the exception of fuel.” 

The CMA’s MVBEO recommendations also include a positive addition on the definition of ‘technical and vehicle information’ which will be treated as an ‘excluded restriction’ that would require self-assessment by a vehicle manufacturer so the wording in the guidance will be critical to its implementation. 

The report found that where information required for a repair is not available from other sources, and is supplied direct to authorised repairers, it should also be supplied on an equal basis to independent operators. The CMA noted, however, that “some behaviour by market players may need deeper scrutiny, notably in light of recent market developments concerning the increased importance of data access.”

“The CMA finds that in-vehicle data should be included in this definition and acknowledges that the manner in which information is provided is relevant,” the report said. 

On the subject of vehicle warranties, CMA positively proposes additional and updated guidance to clarify that the clauses contained in all documents proposed to consumers by OEM / authorised dealers or repairers should clearly state the consumer’s right to use the service of an independent repairer without losing the benefit of the warranty.

While these new and revised definitions are welcome, there also needs to be detailed proposals and clarity on how they would be implemented, says UK AFCAR.

Another critical point made by the recommendation is the “recognition of new technologies and communication interface” with “access to technical and in-vehicle information” being a critical development. However, it is still referencing the workshop level as the basis for competition. 

This new definition will include access to in-vehicle data but does not include independent and direct access to the vehicle remotely – only what must be made available once the vehicle is in the workshop. This, however, legitimises the VM’s ‘extended vehicle’ model and distorts the ability to compete.

Mark Field, IAAF Chief Executive and UK AFCAR Chairman, said: “We broadly welcome the top-line revisions to the MV-BEO. A key issue of the previous legislation was lack of enforcement of the regulation and its impact, particularly at garage level. We are only at the beginning of a long journey that seeks to ensure consumer choice – and the ability for the aftermarket to compete – is protected.”

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