On Thursday 3 November, NFDA’s Northern Ireland division met with franchised vehicle dealer members and elected government representatives from both Westminster and Stormont to discuss issues of growing concern for the Northern Ireland automotive retail sector.

The meeting provided an opportunity to highlight serious and pertinent issues facing the sector in NI, most significantly the unacceptable backlog of MOT bookings in Northern Ireland. The combination of Covid restrictions and the January 2020 lift equipment crisis has meant MOT testing has been a chronic problem for both motorists and vehicle retailers in Northern Ireland for years. This has created an unworkable backlog of over six months and motorists are now regularly having to travel hundreds of miles to secure an appointment in some cases.

NFDA is actively lobbying the NI Executive to address the MOT backlog which is compromising road safety and will inevitably lead to an increase In road casualties. The MOT backlog means franchised dealers across Northern Ireland are left unable to sell vehicles to customers which is causing severe operational, reputational and financial damage.

Further discussions centred around electric vehicles and the need for radical improvement in the Northern Ireland EV charging infrastructure. This needs to happen urgently to uphold the UK’s 2030 net-zero targets.

Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of Nation Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) which represents car and commercial retailers across the UK commented:

“The issues that are impacting the Northern Ireland automotive retail sector are of growing concern for both dealers and motorists, so it is imperative that NFDA facilitates these meetings with influential figures in order to effectively address the matter.

“Whilst the meeting was a success, there is still work to do as more substantial change is required in the system to rectify the MOT backlog problem.”

“Going forward, NFDA will continue to lobby on behalf of franchised dealers, raising awareness to issues such as the MOT backlog with Parliamentarians and key members of the legislative assembly, with further briefings scheduled following the outcome of the meeting.”