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Europe’s auto industry fights back over mileage fraud

The battle to eliminate vehicle 'clocking' needs to involve all industry stakeholders, from OEMs to garages, says CECRA’s Bernard Lycke

In October 2014, a number of European and national associations active in the automotive sector called on the European Parliament to take steps aimed at reducing the widespread and costly practice of winding back odometers in used cars.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Europeans are affected by mileage fraud, commonly known as car clocking. Clocking is a technically simple and cheap procedure used by both private car owners and used car sellers to artificially lower the mileage of the vehicle and thus inflate its value. In financial terms, the practice is almost as costly as car theft or credit card fraud. In Germany, police estimate that at least 30% of all used cars sold in the country have a manipulated mileage reading. In the UK, the Office of Fair Trading estimated that 5-12.5% of all used cars had a mileage discrepancy in 2010.

Clocking off

Although it is hard to estimate the total loss resulting from sale of a vehicle with fraudulent mileage reading, a study conducted by a Dutch automotive company in 2010 estimated that in the European Union, the cost could between €5.6bn - €9.6bn a year.

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