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Right To Repair – A global perspective

Members of the Right To Repair Global Coalition met earlier this month to discuss their take on key trends.

September saw a meeting of members of the Right To Repair Global Coalition, with representatives from MIWA South Africa, R2R South Africa, AUTO CARE Association United States, AIA Canada, FIGIEFA European Union, and AAAA Australia exchanging information about the latest trends and developments in their respective countries.

Les McMaster, Director of Right to Repair South Africa

In South Africa, the big buzz concerns the long-awaited release of the Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket Industry by the Competition Commission. This takes place 10 years after MIWA first announced its intention to launch the Right to Repair campaign in South Africa, and the formation of Right to Repair South Africa (R2RSA); a non-profit organisation encompassing the entire South African aftermarket. The campaign has been gaining traction steadily over this period, and especially over the past six years, as consumers warm to the idea of being able to select the workshop that services, maintains, and repairs their vehicles. The concept is supported by the industry too, particularly as the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown has created difficulties for small and medium enterprises. Les Mc Master, director of Right to Repair South Africa and national vice-chairman of MIWA, noted that the Competition Commission’s guidelines will allow the market to open up while creating cost savings for consumers. Although he acknowledges that it is realistic to expect OEMs to contest some of the clauses, Mc Master also notes that the Competition Commission will allow all breaches to be fully investigated, and will ensure that the guidelines are upheld.

Moving to Australia, Stuart Charity, CEO of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket (AAAA) has noted that the automotive economy is making an encouraging return from the negative impact of the pandemic. This is not the only positive development on the horizon: with General Motors having withdrawn from Australia and the country’s automotive manufacturing industry at a standstill, the AAAA has had an easy entry into talks with the State Legislator regarding the Choice of Repairer campaign. Charity reports that the organisation has reached the first step in eliminating the stranglehold of OEMs on the automotive industry, with the AAAA and the legislator having agreed on legislation pertaining to the sharing of technical information with the federal government.

Meanwhile, in-vehicle data is a significant focus for the Federation Internationale des Grossistes, Importateurs & Exportateurs en Fournitoures Automobiles (International Federation of Automotive Distributors), according to CEO Sylvia Gotzen. Gotzen drew attention to the functions embedded in the connected car by OEMs, noting their failure to adhere to the EU’s data sharing legislation. This not only compromises cybersecurity but is an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the aftermarket; making it appear a weak link in data hacking in the connected car. The organisation is planning to tackle the resulting perceptions of the aftermarket with a campaign debunking OEMs’ allegations. Gotzen maintains that the renewal and extension of Motor Vehicle Exemption regulations in the EU will include access to data in the connected car; a priority highlighted in the ‘my car my data’ campaign.

This issue was also addressed by Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Autocare Association of America, along with the organisation’s senior vice president, Aaron Lowe. Hanvey and Lowe insist that the importance of data and the connected car necessitates strong action from the coalition, as industry members should present a united front against OEMs and strive to control data. Action taken in the United States includes input from courts in Massachusetts, which is enacting legislation to ensure the implementation of the Global R2R. Apart from giving the consumer more choices, this will also grant greater control over their vehicle’s data. 

The issue is being taken up in Canada, too, where the AIA Canada is campaigning the government to allow data sharing of the connected car. The association has, furthermore, launched the ‘your data your car’ campaign.

Finally, Right to Repair Global Coalition chairman Hartmut Rohl applauded the efforts of the Australian and South African associations, urging them to continue their hard work and reminding all parties that the connected car will remain in the spotlight as the coalition moves forward.