Today (Monday 11 January 2021), the DVSA updated its MOT guidance to clarify that “MOT centres can stay open in all areas of Great Britain, including during the national lockdown in England, the temporary lockdown in Scotland, and all of Wales in alert level 4 (lockdown)”. The same guidance always specifies that motorists are still required to get an MOT and there is no MOT exemption this time. As a result, garages across the UK should ensure that customers know that tyre fitting, vehicle repair and MOT services are permitted during the latest lockdown restrictions. At the same time, motorists need to know that there is no MOT exemption.
When the Covid-19 pandemic led to the first national lockdown in March 2020, it wasn’t immediately clear what was allowed to be open. It also took time to clarify who exactly could be defined as key workers. However, it quickly became apparent that – whatever else happens – logistics fleets and blue-light services were indispensable. And these vehicles can’t get anywhere without tyres. Therefore, garages and tyre-fitters were swiftly categorised as exempted businesses and key workers respectively. Having learnt the lessons of the first lockdown, this time things are clear: Tyre garages are allowed to remain open during lockdown. And tyre specialists are key workers.
National garage chain Servicesure has crowned Harrogate garage Simon Graeme Auto Service Centre the Autocentre of the Year in its 2020 annual awards. The North Yorkshire business beat stiff competition from a Servicesure network comprising 554 independent garages across England, Scotland and Wales in the third annual Servicesure Autocentre of the Year Awards. The awards celebrate best practice, success and outstanding customer service shown across the Servicesure network. An event would ordinarily be held in person, but awards were delivered individually to this year’s winners in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the ninth consecutive week of lockdown in the UK, two thirds of British workshops were open, according to the GiPA garage survey. This average includes franchised dealers, independent motor traders and tyre dealers, as well as national chains. Watch the Tyrepress webinar, ‘Kick-starting your tyre business’ for more information and advice on how different dealer groups have tackled lockdown and reopening.
Knowledge of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is becoming a necessary requirement in the aftermarket as more vehicles with these systems are entering the workshop. Hella is an ADAS specialist that not only designs and manufactures many of the sensors and radars on which these systems rely, but through its subsidiary, Hella Gutmann Solutions (HGS), has been educating the industry in the importance of ADAS calibration and its repercussions for independent businesses for more than a decade.
Autogem has created a triple-layer, reusable anti-bacterial facemask. The new product has been added to the TPMS and workshop consumables supplier in response to the needs of customers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The ‘gemCare’ masks, which are non-medical grade and will therefore not affect the supply chain to the NHS, are designed by medical professionals. Autogem added that the masks are intended to complement other protective measures, such as washing hands and maintaining social distancing.
It looks like a light has appeared at the end of the tunnel, as some of the lockdown restrictions begin to be eased. The latest government advice is that those who are able to work, but not from home, should now return to work. They are also advising commuters that it is their civic duty NOT to use public transport, and cycle, walk or use the car instead. As the average UK commute is almost an hour, lots of people will start to use their cars again.
The Garage Equipment Association (GEA), Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd (SMMT) have published a best practice guide outlining the necessary steps for garages exiting lockdown.
Fixter, an online car maintenance service provider, has published survey results which show that essential businesses, such as independent garages, are valued more than before the crisis. Specifically, 89 per cent of customers who rely on their cars now think that it is more important than ever to keep it in a good condition.
The UK Government exemption on MOTs for six months from 30 March 2020, may have come as welcome news to many motorists, but the NTDA has also raised serious concerns about its impact on future vehicle roadworthiness. The fact that the emphasis has been placed on motorists to ensure their vehicles are kept in a roadworthy condition, further raises concerns. In short, the NTDA believes this general exemption will create long-term problems.
The Motor Ombudsman has upgraded its online Knowledge Base with the introduction of a new category on the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It has been designed to help consumers answer frequently asked queries on car ownership, vehicle maintenance and dispute resolution, following the latest government measures which have recently been implemented in the UK.
The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) has said the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVSA) decision to extend MOTs for a six-month period causes “huge challenges” for the sector, arguing that the industry needs to ensure vehicles continue to be kept safe in these challenging times.
TechMan is advising its customers that it will be continuing to provide services and support for its garage management system whilst these unprecedented restrictions are in place. Individual garages are evaluating their own position and capabilities during this time in order to understand the best next steps for their businesses and how they can operate whilst adhering to the new social distancing instructions advised by government.
The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation has gained clarification from government that businesses in the automotive aftermarket supplying garages, namely motor factors and suppliers, can remain open during the Covid-19 lockdown. Garages are exempt from the enforced closure of retailers, but motor factors can stay open in order to supply workshops who continue to support logistics providers, local councils, blue light services and key workers.