Keep on testing: Will we still have MOTs in 2040?

Technician with van

In this article: MotorPro’s MOT guru Paul Charlwood delves into his crystal ball to see what the future could hold for vehicle testing in the coming decades

There is little point talking about the future without a glance in the rearview mirror. My time in the industry has seen diesel engines become commonplace. Gone is the oxy-acetylene plant for welding, indeed some garages don’t even have a welder at all now. OBD is now essential, but feeler gauges, if you have them are probably at the back of the tool-chest.

From the few things above, you will note that skills have come and gone, so for those of us who wish to stay in the industry, or even the wider job market, we’ll need to adapt.

What will change in the next 20 years? Self-driving Artic lorries are a no brainer – the cost of fuel going into the engine is akin to the cost of the wages dropping into the driver’s wallet. In spite of the hype, I don’t see the take up of self-driving cars to be that great. Humans like to be in control and engaged in their destiny and movement. So, while there will be some who want to play sudoku when on the move, many will not. If you doubt this, why do so many cars still come with three pedals and a stick?

History is littered with people who ended up on the scrap heap of redundant skills. There is not much call for a tank gunner on civvy street, nor for a gas welder in the average garage. EVs don’t have radiators, head-gaskets, timing belts or chains along with many other components, so for those of us on the shop floor we are probably looking at an overall reduction of mechanical work, with an uptick in electrical and electronics. Likewise, new car sales could see a continued rise in online purchases, reducing our salesforces in the industry.

MOT is my main subject, how will this area change with everything I’ve just mentioned above? We all know that connected equipment is here and it will become more and more commonplace. My main prediction is that via OBD the vehicle’s VIN will eventually handshake with the DVSA’s MOT service. Maybe even linked to Automatic Number Plate readers in the MOT site.

Will MOTs ever completely disappear? No, I doubt it. It would be a brave, and possibly foolish, Government that took away that essential safety check. It follows then, that should other sources of revenue and work diminish the importance of the MOT within the average garage will rise. So MOT skills will remain and constant no matter what happens in the rest of the industry.