A few months back I wrote a blog about the heavy duty Right to Repair fight where on January 22nd four automotive organizations — Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance), the Association of Global Automakers (Global), the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), and the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality (CARE) — released a joint statement announcing the light-duty market has accepted a Right to Repair national agreement. This agreement is important because it allows aftermarket repair shops (non-dealerships) to have access to the diagnostic information, tools, and software needed to service and repair late modeled computer controlled vehicles.
Now hold on a minute, before you get too excited, you gotta know this doesn’t yet apply to the whole country or the heavy duty market. However another big step took place earlier this month when a meeting took place between the independent aftermarket’s Commercial Vehicle Right to Repair Coalition and the Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA). EMA is taking the lead for the heavy-duty OEM’s and their respective dealerships in reaching a compromise that would give consumers access to quality, price competitive repairs and have the right to choose where theyBUY their parts and have their vehicles serviced.
This became a major issue when the first round of trucks hit the aftermarket that had advanced on-board computer systems that required proprietary software. This issue has only increased as engine and truck technology has increased over the last decade. So far this type of diagnostic repair has been limited to the OEM dealer channel and they want to keep it that way. “Our goals are to make sure a level playing field exists between the dealer and the service provider,” says Marc Karon, Coalition president. “We need to have the information necessary to repair the truck. We should not have to travel to a dealer to complete a repair.” The aftermarket is wanting to remove the intense reliance on dealers for this information, but they are not wanting anything for free and are willing to pay to acquire this repair and diagnostic this information.
The OEM’s are concerned of them losing a competitive advantage in the marketplace, incorrect use of the technology, and untrained technicians using the software to do repairs they are not qualified for. The training and incorrect use fear can easily be solved by requiring certain training requirements in order to purchase the software, however the fear of a competitive marketplace is a little more nuanced. The aftermarket is simply after a level playing field and not looking for a competitive advantage and after all this competitive advantage that the dealers currently have is not good for the clients. Clients deserve the right to take their vehicle wherever gives the least amount of downtime with the fastest, highest quality repair. This is exactly what a good compromise would provide, a minimization of downtime. Something every truck owner needs in today’s economy.
From either viewpoint client satisfaction must be the key issue and the client should be able to go where he gets the best combination of service, value, and speed, dealer or aftermarket. Until a compromise is reached EMA and the Aftermarket Coalition will continue to meet. A boost to this effort could be gained by the fleets and the dealer clients getting involved and making their voice heard. Join in the debate and use this as an opportunity to shape the future of your industry.