German Court Rules OEMs Must Allow Aftermarket Repairers Access To Vehicle Data

The Regional Court in Cologne has reinforced a 2023 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that OEMs must grant aftermarket repairers wider access to technical data.

In its case against Fiat Chrysler, UK-based global repair and replacement group Belron successfully argued that access to vehicle data using OBD ports was required for processes such as ADAS recalibration following windshield replacement, or solving problems indicated by a warning lamp.

“[The] decision from the Regional Court of Cologne reaffirms the principles established by the European Court of Justice on 5 October 2023 in the matter of secure gateways,” said Belron. “The ruling reinforces the importance of a fair and level playing field in the automotive aftermarket and the benefits this brings to consumers. Independent service providers are key in driving competition and providing consumer choice, and [the] decision will ensure this remains the case.”

According to Belron, some vehicle manufacturers are increasingly obstructing access, creating technical hurdles and requiring payment of licence fees. “This adds unnecessary cost and affects free competition in the aftermarket and consumers’ freedom of choice, and can lead to higher prices for consumers,” the company said.

Belron acknowledged the need for vehicle manufacturers to address cybersecurity on vehicles, but it said this must be in line with the principles of openness and ensuring a level playing field highlighted by the ECJ.

“Access to a vehicle’s data stream via the OBD port is essential to workshops all across Europe, and [the] ruling protects the ability for independent service providers to continue working without incurring unwanted hindrance or costs. This is a principle that Belron will continue championing,” said Carlos Brito, CEO of Belron.

“At the same time, we remain committed to working constructively with all vehicle manufacturers and the European Commission to ensure that consumers continue to benefit from the competition provided by the independent aftermarket.”