AIA Canada was at the forefront of the commission on Bill 29, which aims to ensure that motorists have access to their vehicle data and can share it with the workshops of their choice.
At the invitation of the members of the Committee on Labour and the Economy, the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) gave evidence on September 12 as part of the study of Bill 29.
On this occasion, AIA Canada’s President and CEO, Jean-François Champagne, and the President of the Quebec Division of AIA Canada, Élisabeth Lambert, called on the Quebec Members of Parliament to quickly adopt this historic piece of legislation, which will enshrine the right to automotive repair in the Act.
In all likelihood, the bill should be passed before the Christmas break, if not earlier. The regulations will then be drawn up by the government in consultation with stakeholders, a process that could take up to a year, before final adoption and the application of penalties in the event of non-compliance.
With respect to the automobile sector more specifically, section 39.4 of the bill states that: “The manufacturer of an automobile must give its owner, long-term lessee or their agent access to the automobile’s data for diagnostic, maintenance or repair purposes. The manufacturer may not withdraw from this obligation…”
Access to data
On June 1, the Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, tabled Bill 29: An Act to protect consumers from programmed obsolescence and to promote the durability, repairability and maintenance of goods.
In the automotive sector, the legislation proposes to break the monopoly of car manufacturers and their certified dealers over data from connected vehicles. According to the AIA, these companies are currently taking advantage of the lack of a framework adapted to the new reality of intelligent and electric vehicles to monopolize access to this data, which is essential for vehicle maintenance and repair.
A popular will
In an open letter published in the Journal de Montréal, Champagne points out: “In an Abacus Data survey, 94% of Quebecers agreed or strongly agreed that consumers should be able to have their vehicles repaired in any repair or maintenance shop. In addition, 84% agreed or strongly agreed that car manufacturers should be required by law to share their data, and three out of four people would be less likely to buy a new vehicle if it could only be repaired at one of the company’s dealerships.”
Passage of Bill 29 would be an exceptional opportunity for Quebec to become a forerunner in Canada in terms of the right to auto repair. This law will also adapt the legislative framework to the needs of the transition to hybrid and electric vehicles.
“We can see that things are cracking all over the place at the moment,” Champagne told Autosphere.ca in an interview. “We’ve been banging on about this for eight years now, and we can see that car manufacturers in Australia, where this right to access car maintenance data is being demanded, are blocking until the end before giving in.”
In addition to access to data and repair processes, the reparability of goods, including automobiles, requires access to standardised tools. “This would be excellent for the secondary market because our workshops will be able to use aftermarket analysers, for example.”
The adoption of this bill by Quebec’s parliamentarians would ensure healthy competition in the car maintenance and repair market, guaranteeing competitive prices. They will also enable the thousands of employees in the automotive maintenance and repair industry in Quebec to put their expertise to good use in making transport electrification a success. Finally, it would preserve an essential service offering in the regions of Quebec where manufacturers and their dealers are absent, while promoting greater road safety.
Champagne mentions that this law would also be advantageous for dealers, since their maintenance services also cover vehicles of other makes.
“Quebec has a golden opportunity to be a forerunner in Canada when it comes to the right to repair in the automotive sector. In Quebec, we don’t have car manufacturers, but we are the heart of the maintenance and repair industry. By quickly passing Bill 29, parliamentarians will protect consumers, help Quebec businesses and adapt the legislative framework to the requirements of the transformation of part of the vehicle fleet to hybrid and electric cars,” continued Champagne.