Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
TUESDAY 23 OCTOBER 2001
40. Do you see this speeding up the process?
(Mr Evans) Yes. It would if the local authorities
had the ability to deal with abandoned vehicles which may fall
into the category of ELV promptly and in a systematic way. Apparently,
they are unable to do it now.
Chairman: Maybe you should encourage people
to abandon vehicles on double yellow lines.
41. Could I ask what your definition is of when
free take-back starts? Does free take-back start at the point
at which the end user of the vehicle gets rid of it or does it
start at the point at which the dismantler or the dealer or the
shredder takes it? In other words, who would be responsible for
getting that old car from the front lawn of the person who has
it to the dealer, the dismantler or the shredder?
(Mr Evans) It is a very interesting question and I
imagine the answer to it would depend on where you are coming
from, which sector of this you belong to. If the idea behind it
all is that the consumer should be saved from harm and should
not have to contribute to it, presumably it means that, at the
moment someone declares that a vehicle is an ELV, the cost of
it has to be borne by a responsible personi.e., the manufacturer.
That is as I understand what is being proposed. I am not suggesting
that the manufacturers are comfortable with that.
42. I think at the beginning of your evidence
you touched on recovery operators' costs such as storage, depollution
and transportation of the vehicle. Do you know if there are any
other adverse consequences in the Directive that could fall on
recovery operators and what might be done about them?
(Mr Evans) Bearing in mind that they carry out functions
on behalf of a variety of peoplepolice, local authorities,
individual owners or whateveroften, if it is a police matter
where there is an accident, the responsibility of the police to
clear the road is the imperative put on the recovery operator:
get this thing out of the way. Normally, they cannot just tow
it to a layby and leave it there. They normally take it to their
premises pending instructions as to disposal. There are road safety
hazards attached to this. It is not unknown for people to be killed
whilst carrying out recovery operations. It is a skilled affair.
There is a statistic here that says it is at least seven a year
who are killed in recovery vehicles. They have to clear the road,
to take the vehicle to premises. They then have to wait for instructions
as to disposal. They have to store whatever it is they have taken
back until somebodyit may be an insurance company; it may
unfortunately be an executor of somebody's estate who is dealing
with the matter now that the accident has taken away someone who
was drivinggives instructions and problems of that sort.
The recovery operator will have to depollute the vehicle whilst
storing it, so that is a cost, and have skilled people. Then somebody
or other is going to decide what is to happen to it. Is it going
to be transported somewhere? If so, that has to be properly regulated.
The recovery operator may have no more to do with it or the recovery
operator may be part of a business which is a repairer, in which
case maybe they carry out a repair; or, no, this is now an ELV
that has to be disposed of. It is of no value, negative value
or positive value. What is to happen?
43. What about the certificates of destruction?
Would you see the directive putting the onus on recovery operators
to have to deal with certificates of destruction? Would they want
to issue them?
(Mr Evans) For the same reasons mentioned before,
it is probably unlikely that a recovery operator would want to
enter into that by becoming an authorised facility. Maybe they
would. Maybe it depends on what their commercial view of it is,
but I think they would have to think very hard about it because
it is quite expensive. All the audit arrangements and reporting
are quite onerous.
44. In short, you are saying that there will
be more problems for people undertaking recovery operations under
the directive than there are now?
(Mr Evans) Yes.
45. You have talked about the hazards they face
now but it would make life more complicated for recovery operators?
(Mr Evans) Yes.
46. Could we turn to the options outlined in
the detailed consultation paper? In your written submission you
say that you have not yet been able to formulate your response
to that consultation paper. I wonder if now you are in a position
to tell us which of the options, if any, in the consultation paper
(Mr Evans) I do not think we have an option not to
decide on an option, do we? There are three options. It seems
to me that the membership is tending towards option three but
I am not in a position to give you a final answer on that because
the membership has not yet and I know time is running on.
47. Are you able to tell us why the membership
is coalescing around option three?
(Mr Evans) It seems to represent a more balanced view
than the other two but that is only an interim comment.
48. Because it is a bit of one and it is a bit
(Mr Evans) Yes.
49. What about option four?
(Mr Evans) What is that? Not to do it?
50. That is certainly not an option; nor should
it be. Are you aware that a fourth option has been put forward
by the SMMT?
(Mr Evans) No.
(Mr Evans) You asked me; I told you.
Mr Berry: The debate about this Directive has
been knocking around for quite some time and I am surprised, given
that a group of manufacturers is backing a fourth option, that
they have not made others in the industry aware of it but thank
you. I note that.
52. Could I ask for your views on the manufacturers'
position? In particular, how do you think the manufacturers are
likely to want to pass on costs? Do you think that this could
be used to entrench the market position of the larger manufacturers
and act as a barrier to entry?
(Mr Evans) Frankly, I do not know what the manufacturers
would have in mind. I suppose, since it is going to be a complex
and costly exercise, they would want to pass on as much of the
cost as they could possibly and reasonably do, so the dealers
may have to discuss with their individual manufacturers what part
they could play and who would accept responsibility for the payment.
I think it is fair to say that the dealers would be reluctant
to have to accept any cost over and above what they may already
be involved in.
53. The conversations are not yet happening?
(Mr Evans) I am not aware of them.
Sir Robert Smith
54. Do you think, if the manufacturers have
to pick up all the costs, there would be an incentive on them
to design the cars with an eye to reducing those costs?
(Mr Evans) It will be for the manufacturers to explain
it in greater detail than I can but I believe that they have taken
enormous steps to improve the construction and building of vehicles,
not least from the point of view of ultimate recycling.
55. You mentioned earlier on the block exemption
which is up for reconsideration and which affects at least some
of your members but not all of them, as I understand it. Would
you think that it would be reasonable for any amended block exemption
arrangement to accommodate the end of life provision? Do you think
that there would need to be changes, even if we were to carry
on, God forbid, with the existing block exemption, to accommodate
the End of Life Directive?
(Mr Evans) It is a very astute question. The purpose
of the block exemption regulation is to govern the relationship
between manufacturers and dealers with proper provision for technical
information for independent repairers and to see to it that the
consumer has a fair share of the resultant benefit. Since the
block exemption regulation has not hitherto had anything to say
about end of life vehicles, I would think it would probably delay
its implementationthat is the renewalfrom the end
of September 2002 if end of life vehicles were to be incorporated
in it. There may be some reference to it and I can see that it
could very well be something that would say that, in relation
to the consumer's vehicle, there has to be some provision if directive
so and so end of life vehicles comes into operation. I do not
know of anybody who has proposed this so far. It is a new line
56. If under the block exemption dealers are
uniquely qualified to provide the after sales service and so on,
surely the ultimate after sales service which the Chairman is
referring to is that you then deal with the bit at the end as
well? It seems to me that, for those who remain convinced that
block exemption is a thoroughly good thing, they must presumably
be arguing that the dealer should pick up the end of life vehicles
as well because of the unique expertise that is there.
(Mr Evans) I understand but not all vehicles are repaired
or serviced by franchised dealers. Not all those who deal in vehicles
are embraced by the block exemption regulation. There are a number
of entrepreneurs who quite fancy dealing in vehicles but not providing
service and repair so you would have a distinction between those
who are committed to standards and all sorts of other things including
repairs and maybe taking back vehicles and those who would not
be. I do not know how that would work out but it would be disadvantageous
to those who set out their stalls to provide an all-in service.
Chairman: This may well be something that we
will return to when the End of Life Vehicle Directive is incorporated
or up and running and we are still looking at the exemptions.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time this morning. If
we have any other points we would like to get back to you on,
perhaps of a statistical nature, we will be in touch.