In a landmark decision for the UK’s independent garage network, the EU is set to remove restrictions on repair data from car manufacturers.
The independent sector is set to benefit from the lifting of the restrictions by the EU, allowing access to manufacturer data which will enable garage owners to find the information they need to fix any make and model of any age.
Lifting the limitations on access to vehicle information has been a battle long fought by the Independent Garage Association (IGA) which in its press information said there will now be “a level playing field in the battle for access to information” that will “leave franchised dealers vulnerable to losing more service business to the independent garages”.
It’s good news for the independents which will find it easier to glean the information they need to carry out repairs and services whatever the vehicle’s age. It also means garage owners may well be more comfortable with promoting service work for newer vehicles in the knowledge that they can access vital details to undertake jobs to the highest standards.
For the franchised sector, it could well be another story. The franchised network has increasingly come under pressure in the past decade or so as the independent sector has taken work from them. However, recently, the battleground has become more pronounced with franchised dealers fighting back as they try to win back the custom of drivers with older vehicles. The lifting of the regulations will be a welcome announcement as independents seek to redress the balance again.
Garages will be able to gain access to the information through the Retail Motor Industry Federation’s UKAS accredited business, RMISC, which will provide the required certification against the ISO standard. The IGA announced that the RMISC is likely to be the first certification body for this type of information in Europe.
EU legislation already gives customers the right to have their car serviced or repaired at any garage of their choice no matter the age, but the new legislation, which saw IGA representatives working in Brussels to see it through to fruition, further underlines the existing regulations.
Recent IGA surveys show independent garages taking an increasing market share of service work despite the difficulties they face accessing the right information, the lifting of limitations enabling them to carry out all elements of a service or repair is likely to see them gaining even more work at the expense of their franchised counterparts.
IGA director Stuart James said: “This is the largest change to the current structure of the UK motor industry and professionally run, independent garages will flourish.
“It has been advantageous for independents that the franchised sector has not picked up the gauntlet of genuinely meeting consumer needs in terms of price and quality. This new change will allow independents to seize the opportunity, take the initiative and increase their share of service and repair work even further.”
It will be interesting to see how many motorists do vote with their wheels and opt to take their new and nearly new cars to an independent garage. We will be monitoring the scene with interest and, as ever, will be extremely interested to hear your views and details of your experience.