On 12 March, FIA Region I set up a mileage fraud demonstration event on Place Luxembourg, just in front of the European Parliament in Brussels. Passers-by were invited to try out mileage fraud on three vehicles, a VW Golf, a Ford S-max and an Audi Q5. The mileage fraud devices ranged in price from 150 EUR to 10,000 EUR, all of which were easily available for purchase on the internet. The aim of the stunt was to raise public awareness on this commonplace crime in the second-hand car market.
“Throughout Europe, mileage fraud is costing motorists thousands of Euros and, most of the time, consumers are not even aware that they have been cheated because the mileage history of used cars is almost untraceable,” said Jacob Bangsgaard, FIA Region I Director General. He continued, “Within minutes and without much direction, we saw members of the public alter the odometer readings of three common car types. Today’s demonstration is a first step to getting broader awareness and urging the EU institutions to address this issue.”
The crime of mileage fraud affects the public at large, by artificially elevating the cost of used vehicles, sometimes by thousands of Euros. It is a crime that is also estimated to affect up to 40% of used cars in Europe. As fighting mileage fraud in one country often ends up shifting the problem to neighbouring countries, an international solution must be found.
The FIA proposes 4 steps to effectively tackle mileage fraud:
• Encouraging all Member States to consider the manipulation or tampering of an odometer as an offense and effectively enforce their legislation
• Preventing tampering technically through revising vehicle type approval legislation or getting a voluntary commitment of the vehicle manufacturing industry in the European Union
• Setting up a European electronic platform to exchange mileage data – in compliance with data protection legislation – making mileage data broadly available to European citizens buying motor vehicles, in particular cross border
• Supporting specific campaigns by the European Commission and Member States aiming to raise citizens’ awareness about this issue when buying a used car
Following this event, the FIA will run a similar demonstration for MEPs to give them the same opportunity to see the ease with which this crime can be carried out and how hard it is to trace. The ultimate aim of these events is to inspire MEPs to tackle mileage fraud in their next mandate.