The company that operates the National Car Test (NCT) has been given a six-month extension to its contract by the Road Safety Authority.
Applus Car Testing Service won a 10-year contract for the NCT which was due to expire in December 2019.
However, the RSA said this has now been extended until July 1st, 2020.
The specific reason for the extension is unclear.
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdoch told the board earlier this year the extension "will confer significant practical and operational benefits to the authority, taking into account the complex service transition and handover to a potential successor".
The new 10-year contract is worth an estimated €700 million to the winning bidder and will be awarded to a single firm.
The RSA has issued a prior information notice for the NCT contract on the European tending website, eu-supply as part of its approach to the issuing of the tender, which it says will be done under a “restricted procedure” basis.
This means that the contracting authority, in this case the RSA, is of the view that only a limited number of suppliers can satisfy its specific needs. When the contact was last issued in 2009 three firms submitted a bid.
The RSA also said the proposed 10-year term may be altered following a market-sounding exercise.
One issue that will have to be addressed by the new NCT operator is the rapid development of driverless cars and how these will be accommodated by the NCT service.
The current operator Applus Car Testing Service has overseen the introduction of a series of new service developments during its contract, including the introduction of CCTV on test lanes and the recording of a test.
The RSA said it was constantly seeking to improve the “quality and consistency” of car testing.
The most recent figures available show Applus Car Testing Service recorded an operating profit of €8.13 million in 2016.
This was a 51.9 per cent increase compared with the previous year and was based on expanding revenues from NCT and Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) inspections.
Total revenues for the year were €83.18 million, up from €80.8 million in 2015 and boosted by a €2.78 million jump in revenues from the NCT.
Profit after tax for the Spanish company jumped by more than €2 million, or 39.19 per cent, to €7.54 million for the year.
In 2016, the firm tested 1,465,702 cars across the State, with an overall pass rate of 47.2 per cent.
Applus employed 847 staff in Ireland in 2016, down slightly on the previous year, and had staff costs of €34.7 million.