Potential European Block Exemption Rule Changes

Tuesday 22nd March 2022

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By Tim Benson

In response to the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations’ impending expiration in May 2023, I feel that there is significant concern within the Automotive aftermarket sector that needs to be addressed. As an independent garage it is vital that we can retain the right to repair and maintain our customers’ vehicles, but I do empathise with manufacturers who make huge investments in developing vehicles.

With the potential law changes coming, the impact will be felt throughout the whole of the UK in the coming years. I believe manufacturers will quietly go about snuffing out the independent garage sector unless we fight to protect our access to data, information and vehicle systems. Individually it would be impossible for us to fight this cause, but collectively, with groups and bodies like the IAAF (who understand the mechanics of dealing with government organisations), we can lobby and push back to ensure there continues to be a level playing field for all garages for many years ahead.

As I said earlier, I do have empathy for manufacturers who spend millions of pounds developing vehicles and dealers who spend significant sums to be part their franchise networks. Personally, I feel it is right that we should commit to investing in our businesses and technicians to ensure that we can carry out work to the standard expected by a manufacturer. There should be a level of “vetting” to ensure that vehicles are worked on by suitable competent garages. This should however be accessible. I can understand that vehicle manufacturers wish to protect their dealership network but preventing customers from choosing another provider is unreasonable and unfair.

Independent garages need to continue to be allowed access to correct technical information at a fair price and vehicle systems should not be blocked for repair by suitably competent garages, to enable us to continue to provide a high value proposition that’s a real alternative to main dealers. Only then can vehicle owners, our Customers, have fair choice.