The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) Choice of Repairer campaign launched in 2009 achieved its aim when peak industry bodies signed a voluntary agreement on 15 December 2014 to make vehicle data sharing a reality.
The Agreement on Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles was signed by five organisations representing key industry and consumer groups – the Australian Automobile Association, AAAA, Australian Automotive Dealer Association, Australian Motor Industry Federation and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.
Delighted AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity said the agreement facilitated by Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson is a victory for common sense. “This agreement ensures independent repairers can access all information required for the diagnosis, body repair, servicing, inspection, periodic monitoring, and reinitialising of the vehicle, in line with the service and repair information manufacturers provide their authorised dealers and repairers,” said Stuart Charity.
“AAAA launched the Choice of Repairer campaign because independent repairers want to give the best service to their customers and repairers were concerned that car owners were being disadvantaged by either a lack of some data or the difficulty in getting the data.
“For over five years, the AAAA persisted in delivering this message to government – to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, to Ministers and other members of Parliament.
“This result is a win for consumers and their local independent repairers. The AAAA invested thousands of hours advocating to get this issue on the agenda. It is also a wonderful reminder about commitment. If the argument is right, if the evidence is there, and if you have support of your community or membership, you should never give up.
“The parties have agreed to give Australian vehicle owners rights similar to those enjoyed in Europe and the USA. The accord creates a level playing field enabling independent aftermarket workshops to compete with the car company authorised dealerships.
“The agreement is a win-win-win for all parties. It promotes consumer choice for owners of 17 million vehicles – particularly those in regional areas where there are fewer dealerships. It helps 22,000 small workshops remain business. And the vehicle manufacturers will earn a fair price for the data that they share,” he said.
This agreement is based on the principles that consumers should be able to choose who maintains and/or repairs their motor vehicle and that motor vehicle and motor vehicle component manufacturers, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), have a right to protect intellectual property and be paid for sharing vehicle repair and service data.
The agreement also obliges repairers to acknowledge the importance of obtaining and using the repair information provided by OEMs to ensure repairs are carried out correctly to assure the safety of consumers.
The accord establishes guidelines for the operation of the agreement under a steering committee, which will meet at least once each year and provides for a dispute resolution process. The steering committee will include one member of each signatory organisation with the ability to access professional mediation by an agreed third party, if the signatory parties are unable to resolve a dispute internally.
Parties to the agreement also acknowledged that the emerging vehicle telematics technologies enabling increased transmission and use of data relating to vehicle use, performance and diagnostics presents emerging challenges for all stakeholders. To address these challenges, the parties will implement a process to develop protocols relating to vehicle data access and ownership with progress to be reported in 12 months.
“The AAAA recognised that as time marched on, so too did the technical complexity of modern vehicles – they are now computers on wheels. To provide consumers with an open and competitive service and repair market, we knew that independent workshops must have access to the data required to keep customers safe and mobile.
“The AAAA acknowledges the significant work by all signatory parties to the agreement in achieving this historic outcome for the automotive industry. We also thank Minister Billson for his outstanding leadership on the issue, as well as the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for their commitment to resolving this critical consumer issue,” said Stuart Charity.