As you may know, the Government is currently undertaking a consultation on whether to extend the first MoT for cars and vans from three to four years. Having looked at the document the Department of Transport has published, we believe there is a good argument for treating the two types of vehicle differently.
The key argument is favour of an MoT extension is that vehicles are now much better made than even a few years ago. This is true but ignores the hard punishment that many vans undergo, which tends to be greater than cars.
On a home delivery fleet, for example, it is not unusual to find a four-year-old van that has already covered 200,000 miles or more, which represents a huge amount of wear and tear being placed on a vehicle without an official safety inspection taking place. There is data from the DVSA showing that almost half of Class 7 vans fail their MoT at three years, so extending the test to four appears to us to be almost reckless.
It seems that implicit in the Government consultation is an assumption that all fleets are subjecting their vans to regular and rigorous safety inspections. On a strictly legal basis, this should be happening on every fleet but, in the real world, standards differ widely from business to business. Some four-year-old vans on highly professional fleets are subjected to a maintenance regime that is not far below the type seen for large commercial vehicles but others being run by less fastidious operators are undergoing only the bare minimum of maintenance to meet legal requirements, if that.
Certainly, we believe that there are major safety questions to be answered. By the time a van has covered a six figure mileage, it is not just wear items like tyres, brakes and bulbs that can be problematic but major components.
For this reason, we will be writing to the Government and explaining why we believe vans under 3.5 tonnes should stay within the current MoT arrangements. There are separate arguments to be considered for cars but LCVs need a strict regulatory regime.