Decision to shelve MOT changes hailed as win for common sense

The decision not to extend the MOT test to every two years, and the initial test to four, has been hailed by top aftermarket bosses as a “fantastic outcome”, and a win for common sense.

The move, announced last year, had been part of making the test “fit for the future”, with ministers claiming it wouldn’t impact road safety due to “major developments in vehicle [safety] technology” – according to government analysis, the number of casualties in car collisions due to “vehicle defects” has remained low.

But, when the consultation was launched last January, it was heavily criticised, with the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) slamming the government’s lack of clarity as “completely unacceptable” as test centres are being kept in the dark over their futures.

It was claimed longer periods between tests could have seen many garages go out of business, as they would take in less money – something already seen during the Covid-19 pandemic when less cars were on the road and MOTs were given a year’s respite.

The latest news has been welcomed by IAAF chief Mark Field: “Every argument put forward to change the date of the first test has been overcome. An extended test won’t save motorists money and will in fact generate higher bills from worsening, unchecked problems.

“While it is right to consult on modernising the test process, the debate over the test frequency, the third in over a decade, should never be on the table.”

Stuart James, chief executive of the Independent Garage Association was another to welcome it: “We are pleased that the government has listened to our concerns and opted to retain the 3-year time period to first MOT.

“Public safety is paramount, and the decision aligns with our commitment to protecting motorists by ensuring the continued effectiveness of MOT testing in identifying potential safety issues as early as possible.”

Elsewhere, Kevan Wooden, newly appointed CEO of LKQ UK & Ireland, said: “This is a fantastic outcome for UK road users and the aftermarket.

“We lobbied hard alongside our industry partners to push back against the proposed changes on the grounds that they would put the UK’s hard-won reputation for road safety at risk, endanger our national net zero ambitions and increase costs to motorists.”

MOT test change proposal explained

Last year’s government plans proposed an extension to the current MOT run to every two years, rather than one, and extending the vehicle’s first MOT to four years from three.

Westminster claimed the move would also save UK motorists a combined £100 million per year in fees.

Heavy debate was forthcoming from motoring groups, such as the AA and the RAC, which claimed axing annual tests would “put lives at risk” as it would “likely increase the number of unroadworthy vehicles on our roads”.

They both warned against the extension of a first MOT to four years, saying that brakes and tyres – especially on high mileage cars – often need repairs after three and that “one in 10 cars fail their first MOT”.

Government u-turns on plans

In response to critics, Westminster has climbed down from its proposals, with roads minister Guy Opperman proclaiming: “We have listened to drivers and industry, and keeping MOTs in their current form shows once again that we are on the side of motorists.”

As part of the announcement, Westminster also confirmed it would now look to “modernise” the test, including to make it fit for electric and autonomous vehicles.

This comes in the form of a more effective test for diesel particulate emissions, improving or altering MOTs for electric vehicles (such as battery tests) and the transfer of some larger zero-emissions vans to more standard, car-style testing.

“Ensuring the MOT remains fit for the future is a key part of DVSA’s work, and getting ready for new technology will help keep Britain’s roads safe,” said Neil Barlow, head of vehicle policy at Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Welcomed reaction

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the lobby group which represents thousands of members across the country, was another to welcome the news.

Boss Mike Hawes said: “Government and the automotive industry have worked together to ensure the UK has some of the world’s safest roads. The decision to retain the existing MOT system is the right one.

“With vehicle technology continuing to evolve at pace in terms of both safety and environmental performance, we will maintain this collaboration with government and other stakeholders so that the MOT continues to be fit for purpose, helping Britain improve what is already a strong road safety record.”

The RAC agreed. Head of policy Simon Williams said: “It’s great news the madcap idea of changing the MOT from every year to every two has finally been consigned to the bin.

“This would have seriously compromised road safety and ended up costing drivers more money rather than less as it was supposed to do, due to dangerous issues going undetected and getting progressively worse. This is why the idea was so widely unpopular with the motoring public in our research.”

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