The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has declared a new data-sharing agreement “a win for Australian car owners”, after a five-year campaign came to a head this week.
Five of Australia’s major motor industry groups have signed a voluntary agreement opening up access to essential service data and repair information for the independent automotive repair and service sectors.
This agreement will potentially lead to improved levels of service for motorists from independent workshops.
A key signatory to the agreement is the car manufacturers' industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), with Chief Executive Tony Weber saying Australian consumers would be better informed about their vehicle repair.
This includes being informed if non-genuine parts are used to service and repair their vehicles.
“Service and repair information provided by car manufacturers is designed around the use of genuine parts," Mr Weber said.
"It is important that if non-genuine parts are used, the consumer is made aware of any risks that may arise."
Carmakers have been understandably keen to protect the revenue streams of their dealer service networks and the intellectual property bound up into their products.
Until now, they have made it very difficult for independent workshops to obtain essential service data and key fault-code analysis information for vehicle repair.
Workshops were often forced to wait months and sometimes years for the service and repair data on certain models to become available, usually through third-party mechanical guides and service providers (like VACC's Technical Information Service and Repco's Autopedia).
The new agreement however will see information become available much sooner, with the relevant carmakers, those who agree to share the information, receiving a fee for sharing their data.
The AAAA launched its ‘Choice Of Repairer’ campaign in 2009, and Executive Director Stuart Charity said this week’s 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,” Mr Charity said.
“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.”
Mr Charity said rural motorists in particular would gain from the new agreement, where access to dealer service centres for particular makes and models wasn’t always possible.
The scheme is similar to those operating in the US and Europe, and the AAAA says it will create a more level playing field for aftermarket repairers.
The agreement could also ‘force’ independent repairers to offer a higher level of service - particularly with safety-related service items - as the relevant data will now be available to them.
Called the Agreement on Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicles, the five signatories are the AAAA, FCAI, Australian Automobile Association (AAA), Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) and the Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF).
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