The global consumers’ freedom of choice and effective competition in the market for vehicle replacement parts, tools and equipment, servicing and repair was discussed by representatives of automotive aftermarket associations from Australia, Brazil, Europe, South Africa, the United States, South-East Europe and many other as part of the world during a global ‘Right to Repair’ meeting in Frankfurt on the occasion of the Automechanika Trade Show this week.
The first part of the meeting focused at exchanging common experiences against the different economic and legislative national backgrounds. The group discussed the challenges that are being faced to safeguard access to the technical repair and maintenance information required to correctly service and maintain increasingly sophisticated vehicles throughout the world and the worldwide efforts to clarify that consumers have the right to have their vehicle serviced and repaired by independent operators “from day one” during the vehicle’s warranty period and without that the warranty may be invalidated.
Access to repair and maintenance information is crucial for fair competition and the provision of competitive aftermarket products and services – an issue which is increasingly important as vehicles become ‘computers on wheels’. This has already been recognised through pertinent legislation in and outside the European Union.
Through the exchange of information at this meeting, it was recognised that these aftermarket issues are common throughout the world. However, it was also felt that motoring consumers in many developed markets do not yet enjoy even the minimum level of legislative support to provide them with a real freedom of choice, creating an unbalanced situation which needs to be addressed.
The second part of the meeting focused on the growing threat to competition in the vehicle repair industry that is being caused by the use of embedded telematics systems on vehicles and the impact on the aftermarket. The currently proprietary design of the telematics technology creates a new challenge that needs to be addressed in all markets worldwide to ensure that it does not undermine existing direct communication with the vehicle and its data and consumers’ right to choose. The meeting discussed the common aim to create an interoperable platform with interfaces and direct access to the in-vehicle data ensuring innovation and effective competition and the need for a framework either through an E.U. legislation or, depending on other legal systems outside the E.U., through a mandatory code of practice.