AFCAR set up to lobby for aftermarket

A coalition comprising automotive trade associations and commercial organisations has been formed to lobby the UK government of behalf of the independent aftermarket.

The independent aftermarket directly employs more than 350,000 skilled staff in more than 50,000 locations.

The UK Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair (AFCAR), which derives its name from the European group of the same name, will lobby across a number of policy issues such as the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations (MV-BER), Vehicle Type Approval (including access to repair and maintenance information) and cybersecurity.

The group will call on the UK government for the automotive aftermarket to continue to receive independent and direct access to the vehicle and its data, technical information, the ability to supply spare parts, and to perform service, maintenance and repair (SMR) work as part of an open, competitive and transparent marketplace.

The group is advocating that the ‘principles’ afforded to the independent aftermarket under the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulations (MV-BER), which expires in 2023, should be renewed with appropriate modernisation. These principles also apply to the ‘repair and maintenance information’ (RMI) requirements contained in the latest vehicle type approval Regulation, which specifically includes access to the vehicle, its data and technical information.

While the MV-BER makes consumer choice possible, various technical and market changes put the UK automotive aftermarket at a disadvantage, which will be to the long-term detriment of motorists, as well as vehicle and mobility service operators.

UK AFCAR also reported to the CMA that more replacement spare parts are being taken out of the competitive arena and are being classified as ‘captive’ parts. In response to this it has put forward several recommendations that promote greater choice for the consumer, while at the same time providing independent repairers with direct access to key vehicle functions, including ADAS and EV systems.

Overall, the group has called for much greater enforcement of the requirements for both the MV-BER and Type Approval regulations, preferably through an expert, properly resourced section of the CMA or via a truly independent Ombudsman.

Mark Field, IAAF chief executive, said: “The coming together of such a wide group of trade associations and businesses underlines what’s at stake for the automotive aftermarket. Independent access to information, an effective parts supply chain, competition and a vibrant small and medium enterprises landscape are critical to keeping millions of vehicles roadworthy and ensures the consumer benefits from choice and affordable mobility.”