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Thursday 1 October 2020 Data Insight & Analytics


By Paul Nash

The Impact of COVID-19

In this blog I will explore the impending MOT timebomb as vehicles now reach the end of their extension period that to some extent could have planned for.

6 months ago as lockdown began to take hold, the DFT (Department for Transport) realised that as MOT testing stations closed and trained staff were placed on furlough leave, millions of drivers would be unable to get their vehicles tested. The DFT stepped in by extending MOT dates on vehicles with expiry dates between 30th March and 31st July 2020 by 6 months.

The impact of this extension is now becoming a reality, testing stations having to manage not just the normal volume of tests, but also a significant backlog from April. According to the DVSA, 9.6 million vehicles were eligible for the extension and as of September 21st, almost 6 out of ten had yet to have an MOT test.

CACI analysed the MOT records of over 37 million class 4 vehicles (defined as any cars and vehicles carrying up to 12 passengers) and estimate that under normal circumstances, 3.3 million tests would have been required this October. However, with the vehicles granted extensions in April, an additional 1.8 million tests will be required, resulting in a 56% increase in demand on test centres. But its not just the volume of tests that becomes a challenge, the number of additional retests and resulting repairs will cause further backlogs. To put this into context, in April 2019 20.9% of tests resulted in a failure and similar levels are expected again in October. Therefore, based on the assumption that almost 60% of vehicles due a test in April remain untested, we estimate that in October, MOT failures are likely to rise from 670,000 to around 1.1 million.


Top 5 Postcode Areas by Estimated October MOT Demand


Regionally, the variation in additional MOT demand will be significant. The chart above shows the top 5 postcode areas in Great Britain by estimated MOT demand per testing station. With 61 testing stations and an estimated 22,500 tests, the Watford area may see an increase of around 127 extra tests per station, a 35% increase on current levels, placing significant demand on test station resources. Alongside this, failure rates in Watford are estimated to stand at around 20%, at least 3 percentage points higher than other areas in the list. This could potentially add 26 additional failures per testing station in Watford with subsequent retests stretching services even further.


Projected Additional Tests Per MOT Station - October


With failure rates in areas such as Truro, Aberdeen and Hull running as high as 28%, it is in these areas where older vehicles are more subject to retests and repairs. In contrast, areas such Enfield, Romford and Croydon, where vehicles are newer and regular servicing more affordable, may experience failure rates as low as 13%, significantly below the national average of 20%.


Projected MOT Failure Rates - October


From independent testing centres through to franchise dealerships, it is essential to anticipate demand at a local level for MOT and repair services. This is made possible by merging projected test statistics with local demographics, enabling tailored messaging to maximise advance bookings. Not forgetting to account for brand strength, competition, accessibility and catchment size.

Even in the Watford area, local markets vary significantly. Based upon localised 1-mile catchments, the 61 testing stations have average household disposable incomes ranging from £15,800 pa to £34,300 pa. The broad range of local disposable incomes is likely to have a major impact on an owner’s ability to pay for regular servicing and MOT ‘advisory’ repairs. Local market analysis provides the tools to engage, evaluate and encourage owners to ensure vehicles are maintained on a regular basis.


Watford Postcode Area - Household Disposable Income


Given that under DVSA regulations each class 4 MOT takes a minimum of 50 minutes, and Great Britain’s 22,100 testing stations have a finite number of bays to allocate the workload, this significant leap in volumes may result in network inefficiencies, long waiting lists and some drivers potentially unable to use their vehicles.

As an authorised MOT testing centre, what effect will this have on your future bookings?

How will it impact service capacity and FTE planning?

Is this an opportunity for a new scrappage incentive scheme?

Here at CACI we can deliver the most up to date demographic data and catchment demand models to ensure less ‘testing times’ in the face of unprecedented demand.

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As lockdown began, MOT testing stations closed & staff were placed on furlough, this meant millions of vehicles were unable to get tested. We’ve analysed the MOT records of 37,000,000 vehicles and found that we're near an MOT timebomb!

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