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Proactive vehicle recall service could see more defects dealt with

Offering drivers a delivery and collection service could prove a far more effective way to ensure essential vehicle recalls are carried out.

Cars on ramps in workshop

Three-fifths (61%) of drivers would be more likely to act on a recall notice with a delivery and collection service

So says the AA as it looks to work with both fleets and manufacturers to help cut down the number of vehicles being operated long term while subject to recalls – including possibly developing a mobile recalls servicing team.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) figures suggest one in 13 cars in the UK is subject to an outstanding recall notice. From a fleet perspective, outstanding recalls bring a range of major issues from lack of duty of care compliance to the possibility of fines or prosecutions and even voided insurance, putting the onus on organisations to ensure defects are dealt with promptly. This led the SMMT to launch a fleet-dedicated version of its Vehicle Safety Recall Service just over a year ago.

The issue becomes increasingly complex for opt-out drivers, where fleets are still responsible for driver safety but may not be aware of applicable recalls. While an AA Populus Driver Panel poll found three-quarters (75%) of drivers said they were familiar with the recalls process, two-fifths (42%) don’t know how to check for a recall on their vehicle. And a worrying one in 16 (6%) admit to ignoring a recall notice, although the true number might be even higher.

Instead, the poll suggests more than half (57%) of drivers would like an alternative to taking a recalled vehicle to the dealership, while three-fifths (61%) would be more likely to act on a recall notice with a delivery and collection service. Just over half (53%) would be more likely to respond if a technician could come to their home or workplace.

The research also found that female drivers are more likely to delay contacting the manufacturer to arrange a repair and have a higher preference for convenience in servicing location, with 56% more likely to act if a technician could come to them.

While the DVSA is encouraging operators to take advantage of text, email, advertising and marketing channels to reach an increasingly diverse group of end drivers alongside the official recall letters, the AA wants to help fleet companies and finance houses go one step further in the push for recalls response. As such, the organisation is working with manufacturers to develop a complementary mobile recalls servicing team, to operate alongside the existing dealer network.

Stuart Thomas, director fleet & SME services, the AA, said: “We know that the ideal solution for manufacturers is to get their customers back into the dealership so they can manage the ongoing relationship throughout the vehicle lifecycle. However, for a variety of reasons, that might not always be possible. Our research suggests drivers are looking for increasingly convenient and mobile solutions and we’re working with manufacturers to meet that need.”

Examples include sending AA technicians to the Scottish islands to carry out planned recall work on behalf of a manufacturer without dealers in the area, while pilots have also been conducted on a regional basis to support dealers managing a backlog.

Thomas concluded: “Our focus is on developing data and technology to better support an approach that focuses on predictive and preventative maintenance. Going beyond traditional breakdown, we are working closely with organisations across the mobility sector to develop solutions which will provide the changing driver demographic with increased convenience and the opportunity to better plan their lives around their vehicle requirements. Our work on recalls is just one part of the process.”

AA Business Services will be hosting a conference themed around ‘The Smart Approach to Managing Vehicle Lifecycles’ at its Oldbury Customer Experience Centre on Tuesday 2 October 2019. The event is aimed at fleet operators, manufacturers and third parties with an interest in servicing, maintenance, repair, recalls and vehicle inspections. For more details, contact [email protected].

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006.