In the UK, visible parts can be manufactured from the day a car is launched, although laws vary in other parts of Europe – France has no body panel aftermarket because its design protection laws are restrictive.
Last September, the European Commission adopted a proposal which, if it becomes law, will end design protection in the aftermarket. But a report due to be presented to the Commission’s Economic and Social Committee in March recommends restricting the manufacture of these parts to VMs for 10 years.
Spratt says: “For the purposes of repairing, independent aftermarket panels should be available from the moment the car hits the road. To restrict making these parts is not helpful for the consumer, for competition or the industry in Britain, which makes and exports these parts.”
Once reviewed by the Commission, the proposal will go before the Council of Ministers and be voted on by the European Parliament in the autumn.
UK law allows the aftermarket to manufacture visible parts from launch, although VMs still have around 90% of the market.