Understanding Block Exemption Regulation

The independent automotive aftermarket is a hugely valuable component of the UK’s economy. According to research undertaken by GiPA, independent garages service 78% of the UK’s light vehicles, and conduct the vast majority of MOTs and accident repairs*. With a workforce of approximately 350,000 people, it is essential that the independent sector can continue to not only survive, but thrive.



In order for this to remain a reality, the independent aftermarket must be able to compete on a level playing field with the vehicle manufacturers (VMs) and their franchised dealer networks. The entire independent supply chain depends on consumers having the freedom to choose between their local independent garage and a franchised dealer.



One of the biggest threats to the current equilibrium is the upcoming expiration of the EU’s Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER). For years now, MVBER has ensured that there is a fair market for independent businesses to compete in.



The legislation is wide in its scope, but perhaps its most critical function is enabling independent workshops to legally carry out repairs and maintenance on any vehicle, even if it is within its warranty period (with a few exceptions). To allow this to happen, VMs are required to share vehicle technical information and access to spare parts with independent practitioners as well as their dealers. This enables independent workshops to perform diagnostics on new vehicles and source OE replacement parts for their customers.



Should MVBER expire without renewal, however, these workshops will face great difficulty in the future, particularly with the continued development of the connected car and the growing importance of diagnostics. It is no surprise that aftermarket industry associations such as the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation have long since campaigned and lobbied for MVBER’s extension to safeguard the independent sector’s future.



As it stands, MVBER will no longer impact the automotive industry in the UK beyond its current expiration date of 31st May 2023. The EU has extended the legislation to 2028, but the UK is yet to follow suit.



One way to ensure this happens is to raise public interest and make the everyday motorist aware of their rights under the regulation. That’s why the vital work of trade bodies, associations and other industry stakeholders must not fall on death ears. Communications specialists like Torque can also play their part in spreading the message and championing a fair aftermarket for all.



*Research cited in this paper: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1030693/Evaluation_of_Motor_Vehicle_Block_Exemption_Regulations-Initial_Input_from_UK_AFCAR-_Final_draft_2.pdf