Senator David Bushby met Hobart independent automotive workshop owners yesterday to learn their concerns about the issues they – and their customers – face because Australia has no mandatory process for the sharing of automotive service and repair information.
As vehicles become more complex, car manufacturers are withholding data from consumers and their repairers. Consumers’ options for who services or repairs their cars are reliant on Australia’s independent workshops having access to the same technical information that the car makers make available to their dealerships.
Senator Bushby’s meeting at Cooper Automotive in the Hobart suburb of Mornington was part of a national campaign by Australia’s independent workshop owners to gain access to vehicle technical data from car makers.
The workshop owners advised the Senator that, since the introduction of the Federal Government’s voluntary scheme signed by major automotive consumer and industry bodies in December 2014, only 1 car company out of the 68 operating in Australia is fully complying with the operative provisions of the voluntary agreement.
A few other manufacturers have made some repair and service data available, but the rest have ignored the agreement entirely. Consumers are missing out because the car companies misunderstand what it means to own your car and the data that the car generates.
Revisit the voluntary data sharing Heads of Agreement
The independent repairers want the existing voluntary data sharing agreement replaced with a mandatory program. They are willing to pay for the data, which provides the car makers with an additional revenue source.
Senator Bushby said that the tens of thousands of family owned mechanical repair businesses around the country play an important role in providing consumer choice and competition in the vehicle repair and servicing market.
“It makes sense that car companies operating in Australia share the essential technical data required to maintain and repair modern cars, just as they do in other markets around the world,” said Senator Bushby.
The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has operated an online data sharing Incident Report Portal to gain feedback on the effectiveness of the voluntary scheme.
AAAA Executive Director Stuart Charity said this portal provided strong evidence and actual case studies of the growing problems faced by independent workshops trying to access technical service bulletins from the car companies.
“To ensure Australia’s 13.1 million car owners have an open and competitive market for vehicle service and repair, the Federal Government must introduce a mandatory scheme based on a National Automotive Repair and Servicing Portal that is successfully operating in the United States,” said Stuart Charity.