375,000 vehicles now on Irish roads despite being overdue an NCT test

‘The Great Resignation’ and short-notice cancellations among reasons operator will blame for backlogs

NCT backlogs are causing major problems

There are now 375,000 vehicles on Irish roads without a valid NCT certificate.

The operator of the National Car Test, Applus Automotive, will today blame the problem on a range of issues, including a high level of motorists failing to show for appointments and their ageing workforce.

The Irish Independent has previously revealed how motorists in some parts of the country face waits of more than six months to secure a test appointment.

Representatives from the NCT will apologise for the backlog when they appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee today – but they will also admit further challenges lie ahead in the coming months.

The firm will outline how there are 375,000 vehicles overdue their NCT, which they say is more than double the normal amount for the early months of the year.

The company, which will be represented at the meeting by its country manager Mark Synnott, will also outline how 3,500 people per week are not attending appointments they made for their vehicle to be tested.

The company will say that “even though customers are receiving a reminder of their appointment date”, around 2,500 people a week do not show up for their test.

Another 1,000 people cancel their appointment just before their test, leaving little time for a replacement to be found. A spokesperson will say the level of no-shows is around double what it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company will say the next couple of months are likely to be very challenging

“It is important to understand that if a test is lost today, for whatever reason, then that vehicle must come back into the booking cycle and be given another appointment,” the spokesperson will say.

They will state how customers “cycling through the booking process repeatedly” are “increasing the booking lead time for all and inflating waiting lists”. People cancelling tests will be asked to do so in advance.

They will also point to a survey which showed 40pc of customers do not have their vehicle serviced before their test.

“We ask customers to prepare their vehicle for the NCT and not to use the service as a diagnostic.

“Preparing your vehicle for the NCT increases your likelihood of passing the test,” the opening statement says.

The company will also point to “the impact of the Great Resignation”, which resulted in workers changing jobs during the pandemic.

For Applus, this resulted in 113 vehicle inspectors leaving.

A “chronic shortage” of qualified mechanics in Ireland will also be outlined.

“Many are ageing out of the trade and many more have taken advantage of opportunities to use their transferable skills in non-automotive sectors, specifically the semi-conductor and pharmaceutical sectors,” it will say.

The company sent recruiters to the Philippines in July and within a week had conducted over 120 interviews.

However, it needed a change in law to allow it to bring inspectors into Ireland, which happened in August and resulted in 44 qualified mechanics coming to Ireland in November.

The company will say the next couple of months are likely to be very challenging.

However, on the upside, it expects a significant improvement in service delivery in the next six months, before returning to normal later in the year.

Sam Waide of the Road Safety Authority will tell the committee there are plans to open five new NCT centres, in addition to the 49 already nationwide.