As 2018’s final issue of GW Views is published, the big issue of the moment is Theresa May’s draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Yes, we really are starting this year’s headline roundup with brief mention on Brexit.
While The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has backed the draft with warnings that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would be a “catastrophic blow” to the British automotive industry, GW readers have been speaking out against the draft agreement in the GW forum because it’s not the Brexit the UK voted for, according to 62 per cent of GW readers.
For now though, there’s not much that can be done about it so it’s been business as usual for the UK’s independent garages.
Thriving independent garage sector
In fact, the independent service and repair sector is thriving according to Stuart James, director of the Independent Garage Association who spoke about independent aftermarket success earlier this year at the Garage of the Year awards, which was held as part of the Automechanika Birmingham 2018 trade exhibition.
More recently, REPXPERT brand ambassador, Andy Savva said that “there’s never been a better time to be in the independent garage sector” and GW columnist, Aaron Phillips is looking to the New Year with confidence as a record number of cars are expected to filter down into the aftermarket as they come out of their manufacturer’s warranty in 2019.
This year also saw a huge step forward for the aftermarket when it comes to access to in-vehicle data after crucial provisions on the OBD connector and access to RMI were included in proposed EU legislation on Vehicle Type-Approval Regulation.
The past 12 months haven’t passed without challenge though.
May saw the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) come into force with threats of fines of up to four per cent of business turnover for non-compliant companies.
A GW poll in June found that 43 per cent of respondents didn’t know how GDPR affects their business, with just 34 per cent claiming to be fully compliant – if you’re still unsure about GDPR, take a look at this GWTV report.
The MOT testing service has seen more major shake ups too.
Changes made as part of the European Union Roadworthiness Package were implemented earlier this year with pre-defined ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ and ‘minor’ defects and a new MOT risk rating system launched, which now sees that all testers and testing stations have individual risk ratings.
Neither of these changes went without criticism and news that the DVSA won a major award for its MOT digital services in November sparked outrage among some garages who’ve been left with increased costs and are continuing to battle cut-price MOT discounters and fraudsters.
Counterfeit car parts
Meanwhile, the Intellectual Property Office launched an industry-backed campaign to raise awareness about the widespread problem of counterfeit car parts, which reignited a debate among garage owners about customer supplied parts.
Vehicle recovery operators have also been pushing a campaign this year to highlight the dangers faced by roadside technicians following a spate of fatalities – the issue was recently raise during a House of Commons debate.
With 30 per cent of GW readers reporting to have had a near-miss while working on the roadside and 17 per cent saying that they know at least one person who has had a near-miss, the ‘slow down, move over’ campaign has the support of independent garages.
The GW news bulletin wouldn’t be the same without a few strange headlines and 2018 didn’t disappoint.
We reported on an apprentice sat on a toilet when he became engulfed with flames during a prank gone-wrong, a driver was caught using bucket for a seat and mole grips for steering and who can forget the drifting double decker bus?
Has 2018 been a good year for your garage? What do you see as the biggest challenges going forward into 2019? Share your comments below.