Right to Repair: Spreading Awareness

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Jean-François Champagne, President, Automotive Industries Association of Canada. PHOTO AIA Canada

Strength in numbers is key to getting our voices heard.

Right to Repair has dominated the industry for the last few years and for good reason. From our experience at the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada), it is increasingly evident that not only is it about information access and data security but about consumers’ fundamental right to choose how and who services their vehicle.

In both Canada and the U.S., surveys have shown that consumers want anyone they choose to have the ability to repair their vehicle—in Canada the number is 94%. Additionally, 83% of Canadians feel that legislation is needed to ensure OEMs provide the information required so independent service centres can repair the vehicle.

Different options

By having a competitive marketplace, not only does it allow for the freedom of choice when it comes to who can repair the vehicle, but also in the different options of how those repairs are performed, maintenance plans and also the parts used.

Competition not only provides options; but promotes better service and better pricing for goods and services. While pricing can sometimes be a difficult conversation in the automotive aftermarket, it is something to consider, because it is fundamentally attached to the idea of competition. Therefore, it needs to be front and centre of any conversations or legislation regarding Right to Repair and freedom of choice.

During the most recent U.S. Federal Election, there was a referendum question asking the population in the state of Massachusetts, if they wanted to update existing right to repair legislation to include connected vehicles (telematics). In Canada, we’ve seen similar developments such as the launch of Bill C244, by Federal Member of Parliament for Richmond Centre, Wilson Miao, which is essentially a reintroduction of 272, legislation originally tabled by MP Bryan May. C244 contains modifications to the Competition Act, with the expressed interest of modifying existing copyright law in Canada to enable the reverse-engineering of a product for the expressed purpose of vehicle repair and maintenance.

Resonates with multiple industries

This would ensure that it is not illegal to reverse engineer and is something that resonates both with our industry and also others including agriculture, as farmers are facing many of the same issues that independent automotive repair centres are. While this bill currently has a lot of bipartisan support, it doesn’t answer all questions related to the Right to Repair.

Bill C231, tabled by MP Brian Masse on February 4, is a Right to Repair bill specifically targeted at the automotive sector. It’s designed to provide consumer choice, enhance competitiveness and is also a way to modernize the existing Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) agreement, which is a major factor in the creation of this new piece of legislation.

CASIS needs modernizing because it was originally introduced at a time when technicians still needed to plug into the vehicle to diagnose and reprogram it. Today, we are seeing vehicles become increasingly connected, with over-the-air updates, something which was never built into the original CASIS agreement. This new bill also addresses the issue of new OEMs entering the marketplace such as Tesla and Rivian, which are direct-to-consumer focused, and who never signed the voluntary CASIS agreement, nor are they represented by the automaker association that did signed the agreement. Even some legacy OEMs, like Hyundai with its Genesis brand, have been exploring a similar approach.

Federal involvement

Going back to the U.S., while the legislation in Massachusetts was a successful outcome for the aftermarket, the OEMs have and will continue to lobby against Right to Repair. Nevertheless, these actions have spearheaded federal government involvement with the result that in the U.S., the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act (H.R. 6570), is now a federally proposed bill.

If we look at other parts of the world such as Australia, grassroots engagement regarding Right to Repair has proved to be very successful. By engaging with local politicians and bringing them into repair shops, lawmakers can see firsthand the challenges that service providers have been facing, giving them a real sense about what is going on and the impact it has on both their businesses and the economy. AIA Canada, as the voice of the automotive aftermarket industry in the country is here to help. To find out more, please contact Alana Baker, Senior Director, Government Regulations ([email protected]) at the Automotive Industries Association of Canada.

Jean-François Champagne is the President of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada which represents the interests of the automotive aftermarket across the country.


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