Calls for stronger EU measures against rising odometer fraud
Despite progress in some national markets, odometer fraud remains rampant in cross-border trade of used vehicles in Europe. Calls for EU-wide measures against 'clocking' are growing.
One of the more successful national anti-clocking initiatives is CarPass, which has virtually eliminated odometer fraud in Belgium. Elsewhere, the problem remains endemic.
In Poland, for instance, says Michel Peelman, CEO of CarPass: “Poland imports 1 million used cars per year; 80% of those odometers are tampered with. These staggering figures have been quoted by different speakers at the recent international conference 'Fighting Odometer Fraud' in Warsaw".
"All agreed that directive 2014/45/EU, mandating mileage registration at the technical inspection, will not solve the problem. It's too little, too late. Europe needs to do more to protect its citizens against these criminal activities”.
Ireland is another EU member state that has a major problem with odometer fraud, or 'clocking', as it's known locally.
According to Ireland's official vehicle records organisation Cartell, citing the largest false-mileage study ever conducted in the country, no less than 11.04% of of second-hand vehicles for sale in Ireland display an unreliable or questionable mileage. For vehicles imported into Ireland from the UK (Northern Ireland and Mainland Britain), that figure rises to 18.43%.
Those figures are worse than those of an official Irish government study in 2013, which showed a mileage discrepancy rate of 9.8%. 'Clocking' is a criminal offence in Ireland since 2014, but that alone has apparently not deterred fraudsters, with the practice seemingly on the rise in recent years.
2.3 million vehicles
And not just in Ireland. Similar evolutions have been noted in the UK, where HPI says the share of 'clocked' cars has risen from 1 in 20 in 2014 to 1 in 16 last year, affecting a total of 2.3 million vehicles.
German motorist association ADAC claims one-third of the 2 million used cars sold annually in Germany have had their mileage readings tampered with, defrauding buyers of €3,000 per vehicle, on average.
But, as the Irish study suggests, it is especially the cross-border trade in used vehicles that seems to be susceptible to mileage fraud. Consequently, more and more industry voices are calling for tighter cooperation across borders, and an EU-wide mileage database, to combat the growing problem.
According to Irish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Deirdre Clune, up to 30% of all used cars sold in the EU are 'clocked', costing consumers between €5.6 billion to €9.6 billion a year. “People need an EU-wide database of car mileage so they can compare and contrast mileage readings”, she says.
The European Commission's Road Worthiness Directive, which will come into effect in April 2018, inclused a check on mileage, but that is not enough, says Mrs. Clune. The MEP points to Belgium's CarPass system as an example for an effective EU-wide database.