Under revisions to block exemption, any company can apply to become a manufacturer approved repairer as long as they meet a strict set of criteria. Many have been put off applying for authorised status because of the high cost of tooling up and training staff.
Ford will not reveal the likely cost of investment, although the Authorised Independent Repairers Organisation (AIRO), set up earlier this year to help garages become approved, expects it to be in the region of £25,000. Ford sells around 400,000 new cars a year in the UK and has a total vehicle parc of 5.5m.
“We are meeting the spirit and the letter of the block exemption law,” says a spokesman for the carmaker. “We are working hard to make the process of becoming an authorised repairer as quick and as painless as possible.”
Ford has so far received few applications for authorised status from outside the franchised network, although it is the second carmaker to actively search for independent garages, following the lead set by Citroen. AM understands that a handful of small independently-owned Ford garages have already applied for authorised status.
One source, who asked not to be named, says he opted for servicing rather than sales because he could not afford the necessary investment.