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As the automotive aftermarket struggles to regain momentum, members of the Global Right to Repair Global Coalition met this month to get feedback from the member nations who share common issues and challenges. Member associations include MIWA South Africa, R2R South Africa, AUTO CARE Association United States, AAIA Canada, FIGIEFA European Union and AAAA Australia.
Les Mc Master, Director of Right to Repair South Africa and National Vice Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), represented the South African members giving a brief summary of the 10 year historical path to the South African Competition Commission adoption of the draft Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket Industry. Mc Master says in 2010 MIWA first announced their intention to initiate the Right to Repair Campaign in South Africa after garnering first-hand knowledge from their European and North American counterparts where the campaign was already written into law in these regions. At the time MIWA approached representatives from all the major vehicle manufacturers in South Africa, but their muted responses resulted in MIWA creating the Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA) non-profit company to include the whole of the aftermarket in South Africa.
For the past six years the Right to Repair campaign has been gaining momentum as members lobby for an environment where consumers can select where their vehicles are serviced, maintained and repaired during the currency of manufacturers’ warrantees, at competitive prices and in the workshop of their choice, and one which gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business. “This has become particularly critical now following the havoc the pandemic has had on the market.
McMaster told the global members that the new Competition Commission draft guidelines will, if published in its current form, open up the market substantially and see some meaningful cost savings for consumers, without compromising on quality and service. He said MIWA and R2RSA were eagerly awaiting the promulgation of the document due to be released by the end of the year. Mc Master stressed that although the document is still in draft format, he expected the OEM's to push back on certain of the clauses contained within the document.
“The Competition Commissioner has nevertheless stated that every accusation brought to the attention of the Commissioner regarding any breach will be investigated and action will be taken to ensure that all the parties are subjected to the guidelines contained within the code of practice,” he says.
In terms of global outlooks, Stuart Charity, CEO of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) told members that the pandemic had made a huge dent into the automotive economy but the sector had managed to bounced back despite the limited number of trading days.
He said the withdrawal of General Motors from Australia and the automotive manufacturing sector having all but stopped production in Australia, made the AAAA's task a lot easier in their talks with the State Legislator regarding their Choice of Repairer Campaign. “Significant milestones have been reached with the legislation on the sharing of technical information with the Federal Government. We see this as the first step in the eradication of the stranglehold on the Automotive Industry in Australia by the OEM's,” said Charity.
Sylvia Gotzen, CEO of Fédération Internationale des Grossistes, Importateurs & Exportateurs en Fournitures Automobiles / International Federation of Automotive Distributors (FIGIEFA.), gave an overview of the current and future issues facing the Global Automotive industry. She stressed the need for access to in-vehicle data and functions which the OEM's have been embedding into the connected car and the failure to adhere to the data sharing legislation in the EU. She highlighted cybersecurity and the attempt by OEM's to taint the aftermarket as being the weak link in the hacking of data from the connected car. FIGIEFA plans to start a proactive campaign debunking these allegations citing the OEM's lack of foresight in this regard. She said there is no doubt Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation renewal and extension in the EU will include access to data in the connected car. “This includes the vehicle owners campaign of "my car my data",” she says.
Bill Hanvey, President and CEO and Aaron Lowe, Senior Vice President regulatory and Governmental affairs,of the Autocare Association of America, confirmed that the data of the connected car is a huge issue globally and the Coalition must close ranks in combating the control of the data, irrespective of the pushback from the vehicle manufacturers. He said in the US, Massachusetts courts will be used in spearheading this legislation which will ensure that the Global R2R is established giving the consumer more choices and more control of their vehicles data. AIA Canada echoed this feeling saying it too was actively campaigning the Canadian government to allow data sharing of the connected car, AIA has also initiated the "your data your car" campaign
Hartmut Röhl, Chairman of the Right to Repair Global Coalition confirmed that although Australia and South Africa had come a long way in their respective campaigns which had made huge inroads toward a successful R2R scenario, there was still some hard work ahead and the R2R Global Coalition would assist in every respect. “The connected car wiIl be the key global focus going forward,”: he concluded.