VACC’s NewsKurt Quambusch
Access to accurate and up-to-date repair info is needed right now.
With the automotive repair and maintenance sector accounting for 54 percent of Australia’s90,000 automotive businesses, the Australian mechanic is a very important part of the country’s economy.
But automotive repair businesses across the nation are facing a crisis.
Vehicles today are incredibly complicated, so having accurate and up-to-date repair and maintenance information is vital. The trouble is, some vehicle manufacturers are making it difficult – often impossible – to access this information.
It is an issue many years in the making. In 2014, various state and national bodies banded together to work with vehicle manufacturers (through their peak body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) to bring about a voluntary code, only to see that fail. Now, these bodies are calling for a mandated code.
With the lifeblood of Australia’s vehicle repair businesses in the balance, Australian Car Mechanic spoke to Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce CEO Geoff Gwilym to find out the state of play…
Is access to repair information issue about consumer rights or fair trading? It’s about both. Consumers should have the right to take their vehicles, for their servicing and maintenance requirements, to the business of their choosing. At the same time, the thousands of automotive repair businesses across Australia should have fair and equitable access to the correct information they need to conduct these important services.
Are vehicle dealerships at fault here? Absolutely not. Dealers are trying to do the right thing, but under their franchise agreements, it is the vehicle manufacturers who pull the strings when it comes to what is available and what isn’t.
Why is it important that repairers have access to service and repair information for each vehicle?
Repair businesses have customers that chose to have their vehicles serviced and repaired with them. It is only right that consumers have correctly maintained and safe vehicles and that repair businesses have the information required to deliver on that expectation.
What does VACC want from all stakeholders: vehicle manufacturers, mechanical repairers, and government? We want manufacturers to provide access to all appropriate service and repair information for their vehicles at a fair market rate. We want vehicle repairers to train and equip themselves to be able to correctly use this information to properly and safely maintain their customers’ vehicles, and we want the government to legislate and monitor this transaction under a mandated code.
Why are some manufacturers withholding service and repair information?
There are manufacturers who are currently doing the right thing by providing service and repair information to vehicle repairers. But some do not. The reason they do not ultimately come down to money. What some manufacturers are not seeing is the opportunity to sell their information – and potentially training and equipment – at fair market rates and to create an additional income stream that they currently do not have.
Vehicle manufacturers spend millions of dollars designing, developing and validating new vehicles; why should they have to hand over their repair and service information?
It is true that vehicle manufacturers spend incredible amounts of money creating their very sophisticated products. We believe that they should be rewarded for this and that they should make reasonable profits from their investment. But for the sake of fair trading conditions and a safely maintained vehicle fleet, all relevant information should be made available to aftermarket repair businesses across Australia. Again, at a fair and reasonable market rate. We ’re not asking this for anything.
What are the expectations of consumers when it comes to having their vehicles repaired?
All consumers expect that their vehicles will be safely and correctly maintained by the business of their choosing according to manufacturers’ standards. The only way that this will happen is for all manufacturers to make their service and repair information available to vehicle repair businesses across Australia. We have tried a voluntary Code and that has not worked. What we are asking government, for now, is a mandated Code whereby all of the industry has to play with the same rule book.