Mandatory Data Sharing Law Locked In For Australia

The Australian government has announced that it will introduce a mandatory data sharing law. The data sharing law will allow independent workshops access to all motor vehicle service and repair information for a price.

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) says the law will provide a level playing field in the sector and allow consumers to have their vehicle safely repaired by the repairer of their choice.

“This is an incredible result for our members, who came to us with their concerns, put competitive rivalries aside and fought alongside us to have the law changed for their customers, their businesses and the wider industry,” said Stuart Charity, CEO of the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association.

“This announcement has been a long road and is the culmination of tireless work by the AAAA team to push for government action to address this important competition issue. We have personally met with over 75 federal MPs, facilitated hundreds of workshop visits by MPs all around the country and had countless early morning and late-night discussions with ministers and other industry stakeholders.”

The announcement is also a huge moment for the AAAA who has long championed the Choice of Repairer campaign on behalf of their members and the wider industry.

“It is also an important win for consumers,” said Charity. “Our Choice of Repairer campaign has sought to increase community awareness around consumers’ right to choose their repairer and their new car warranty and servicing rights.

“This has been an industry wide effort and I would like to acknowledge the invaluable role played by automotive industry associations – Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA), Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), Australian Automobile Association (AAA), and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).

“I’d like to personally thank the Assistant Treasurer Hon. Michael Sukkar for his leadership on this issue and commitment to introduce a mandatory data sharing law that will benefit small businesses in the automotive service industry as well as every Australian car owner.

“We look forward to seeing progress on an exposure draft and we will review every word to ensure that car manufacturers are not able to wriggle though any loopholes that would prevent or restrict consumer choice and ultimately harm competition.”

AAAA: Mitsubishi Pajero Recall Compromises Safety

Mitsubishi Motors Australia has issued an urgent recall on its NX-series Pajero via the Australian Competition Consumer Commission, affecting 6384 Pajero models built between 2017 and 2018.

According to Mitsubishi, “inadequate” welding strength increases the likelihood of the front driver’s side suspension lower control arm failing. If the control arm fails, the steering may not operate, increasing the chance of an accident.

Mitsubishi has advised that it will contact owners via postal mail to bring their Pajero into a Mitsubishi dealership to be repaired free of charge. However, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) believes this recall serves as an example of how safety is being compromised for vehicle owners.

“It’s interesting to note how Mitsubishi, which is one of the least cooperative manufacturers in sharing important vehicle servicing data to independent workshops, is handling this significant and potentially dangerous vehicle manufacturing fault,” said Stuart Charity, CEO of the AAAA. “We have a situation where an ACCC notice and a letter in the mailbox are the only methods undertaken by the manufacturer to ensure affected vehicles are brought in for repair quickly.

“With a mandatory data sharing scheme in place, the Mitsubishi Pajero recall would allow independent workshops servicing these vehicles to have immediate access to the VIN numbers of Pajeros affected, so owners can be informed to take their vehicle back to Mitsubishi.”

The AAAA says another example of how a mandatory data scheme would increase road user safety and benefit manufacturers is the ongoing Takata airbag recall.

“A mandatory data sharing scheme would enable all safety and recall campaigns to quickly reach a much higher percentage of affected vehicles [and] models that are being serviced by independent workshops across the country, which would enable potentially dangerous faults to be fixed sooner.”

According to the AAAA, the benefit for manufacturers comes from the ability to rectify dangerous faults in a reduced timeframe, saving dealerships and the manufacturers significant costs. For road users, less vehicles with faults results in increased safety for everyone.

“We are working closely with Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar on a mandatory data sharing scheme and we are confident a positive outcome can be achieved,” said Charity.

The AAAA has provided a list of the recalled Pajero VIN numbers here.

AAAA To Work With Joint Select Committee On Road Safety

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) says it has welcomed the formation of the government’s new Joint Select Committee on Road Safety.

The committee will inquire and report on steps that can be taken to reduce Australia’s road accident rates, trauma and deaths on the country’s roads, aiming to present an interim report by 30 March 2020 and a final report by 31 July 2020. The AAAA says it wants to engage with the committee on the role that vehicle servicing plays in road safety.

While newer vehicle designs, construction and new safety technologies are major factors in reducing crash numbers, serious injury and death on our roads, the AAAA says it’s regular maintenance and servicing that ensures vehicles continue to operate safely on the roads for years to come. With the longer-term trend of lower new car sales and consumers holding on to their cars for longer, regular servicing is more important than ever.

According to AAAA research, 30 per cent of vehicles are not receiving regular or required services, increasing the risk of component failure or other issues that directly impact vehicle safety. The cost of servicing remains a key reason behind this statistic, so ensuring servicing remains affordable and that consumers have a choice is the best way to increase the number of vehicles that are regularly serviced.

“We are eager to provide the Joint Select Committee information around affordable measures that encourage owners to have their vehicles regularly serviced and maintained, including a mandatory data sharing scheme for independent workshops,” said Stuart Charity, CEO of AAAA. “The AAAA has long championed a mandatory data sharing scheme on behalf of independent service and repair professionals across the country. Denying consumers their choice of vehicle service provider is a threat to competition and safety.”

According to the AAAA, Australia lags behind other countries in relation to data sharing, with Europe and the USA having regulations in place to encourage regular vehicle servicing and consumer choice. However, the association says it’s confident that a mandatory scheme is forthcoming, continuing to work with the government on behalf of the automotive service industry to make sure the implementation of this scheme is achieved in a timely manner.

The AAAA says it will work proactively with the Joint Select Committee to highlight the importance the vehicle service and repair industry has on road safety outcomes, and outline how the association can assist the industry in playing their role in reducing the nation’s rising road death toll.

UPDATED: Associations Express Mixed Views Over Government Mandatory Repair Information Paper

(UPDATE 13 Feb: This article has been updated with the MTA NSW’s response.)
Three automotive industry associations have expressed mixed reaction to the release of the federal government’s consultation paper on the introduction of a mandatory scheme for the sharing of vehicle service and repair information between car companies and independent repairers.

The AAAA said it welcomed the document’s release but warned that some aspects of the paper are inconsistent with the ACCC’s findings. VACC gave it a “lukewarm” reception and labelled it “weak”, while the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW “strongly welcomed” the Government’s commitment to guarantee independent repairers access to car manufacturers’ data.

“We strongly encourage the government to take onboard the full ACCC findings and recommendations relating to the attributes of a mandatory scheme, as the overriding objective of this scheme is to provide fair and open competition to promote choice and affordability for all Australian car owners,” said AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity.

“We are concerned about the language used throughout the consultation paper that relate to “exclusions” and “restrictions” that may be included in a mandatory code.  Of course, there will need to be safeguards in place to protect the security and integrity of vehicle related data, however vehicle security should not be used as an excuse by car companies to withhold critical information required to complete a vehicle repair or service.

“These terms were not used in the ACCC Final Report and if they are included in the final code, we have no doubt that car companies will fully exploit this by linking all required information to either security, safety or emissions, and in reality, nothing will have changed for consumers,” said Charity.

“In order for Australian consumers to be treated fairly when it comes to the scheduled servicing, maintenance and repair of their vehicles, car companies should not be able to decide who receives information based on their own definitions relating to safety, security and emissions. The ACCC’s Final Report recommended that all required technical information ‘be shared with independent repairers on commercially fair and reasonable terms, subject to appropriate safeguards to enable the sharing of environmental, safety and security-related technical information,’ and we fully support this recommendation,” he added.

The association is also concerned by the potential for manufacturers to determine the appropriate level of investment by independent workshops in order to access service and repair data. The AAAA believes this will allow vehicle manufacturers to charge exorbitant fees for information, special tools, training and equipment and is unworkable in a market of more than 70 car brands.

“We believe that after two separate government inquiries on this matter and over eight years of consultation, it is now time for the government to build on the ACCC’s findings and recommendations and implement a mandatory code as a matter of urgency,” said Charity.

VACC expressed disappointment over the paper’s lack of penalties for manufacturers that fail to comply with the directive.

“Frankly, this document is not worth the paper it’s printed on,” said VACC Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Gwilym. “If a ‘mandated code’ has no penalties for non-compliance it will not work in the real world.”

VACC wants the government to revise its paper to include significant penalties in a bid to garner largescale compliance.

“VACC has been calling for a mandated code for a long time now. We will not be satisfied until it is a genuine mandated code – this means that there are explicit penalties if manufacturers fail in their obligations to share the information for which they are obliged.”

Gwilym said the time for consultation has long since expired and that all sides of government need to get on with the job of making a mandated code a reality.

“All stakeholders know what’s expected. But relying on goodwill has simply not worked in the past. The industry needs the next federal government to mandate a code of conduct where expectations are fully explained, along with the ramifications for those OEMs who will not play fair.”

VACC said the Labor Party is on record as supporting a mandated code for the sharing of motor vehicle service and repair information, something Gwilym believes will become an election issue.

“In the lead-up to the next federal election, Australian motorists – all 15 million of them – will consider this significant consumer issue as they enter polling booths and decide on this country’s next federal government,” said Gwilym.

MTA NSW said the release of a consultation paper was a step in the right direction, and welcomed the intended creation of an advisory group which will include the association working alongside the national body, the MTAA.

“As the only NSW employer association to represent dealers, independent service providers, repairers, dismantlers/recyclers and other automotive industries, MTA NSW has worked closely over the last 24 months with MTAA to advocate to ensure any regulatory solution takes into account the needs of all automotive businesses and consumers,” said MTA NSW CEO, Stavros Yallouridis.

“We have proactively participated with the MTAA member states and territories to develop a draft code of conduct as a potential solution which has involved extensive analysis of both European and US practical experiences to ensure a pragmatic approach is achieved.

“The code of conduct must not advantage or disadvantage any service provider over another and ensure consumer choice and a level playing field for all automotive sector industry participants. If done correctly then there should be benefits for dealers, independent mechanical repairers and other repair providers,” added Yallouridis.

AAAA Innovation Labs Supporting The Future Growth Of Australian Automotive Manufacturing

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has announced the establishment of two automotive Innovation Labs based in Victoria and South Australia.

Co-funded by federal and Victorian government industry development grants, the operation of these new Innovation Labs will be led by the AAAA, with the association saying they will provide Australian automotive product designers, manufacturers and start-ups with the tools, technology, vehicles, expertise and collaborative environment required to innovate, design, test and manufacture for local and export markets.

Advanced manufacturing services including 3D scanning and printing, measuring sessions, technology transfer, Computer Aided Design and prototyping will be provided. Advanced product development and testing facilities will significantly reduce the time and cost in developing innovative new products for local and global markets.

According to AAAA Chief Executive Officer, Stuart Charity, the establishment of these Innovation Labs will grow an industry that is already punching well above its weight on the global stage.

“Australian automotive aftermarket industry manufacturers are currently producing parts, components and technology worth more than five billion dollars each year.

“Our companies are world leaders in the design and manufacture of specialty products with a technological advantage such as 4WD, high performance and motorsport components. These products are purchased on innovation, performance and features rather than on price. Our businesses have been successful because they have made significant investments in R&D and capital equipment and have a strong export focus.

“Establishing this collaborative infrastructure will position our industry for future domestic and export market growth by providing the innovators of the industry with the leading-edge technology and expertise needed to take Australian automotive industry innovations to the world, regardless of how large or small their businesses are.”

The AAAA has appointed automotive industry engineering specialist Luke Truskinger to the role of Innovation Lab Project Manager. Along with his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, the AAAA says Truskinger brings extensive local and international OEM experience to this new role and a history of supporting the Innovation Lab project, understanding the critical role that the labs will play to support the future growth of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry.

The AAAA says it will be engaging in extensive discussions with Australia’s automotive parts and accessories industry to build on the significant work already undertaken as part of the Innovation Lab feasibility study. The next few months of the establishment phase will ensure that the equipment and services offered by the Australian Innovation Labs are closely aligned with the current and future needs of the Australian automotive manufacturing industry.

“We look forward to inviting automotive manufacturers to take advantage of the services and facilities that our Innovation Labs will offer to assist in taking their products from concept to domestic and global market success,” said Charity.

To find out more or to register your interest in the Automotive Innovation Labs, contact AAAA Innovation Lab Project Manager Luke Truskinger – [email protected].

Collision Repair Expo 2019 To Welcome Thousands Of Trade Visitors

The 2019 Collision Repair Expo (CRE 2019) will showcase the latest Australian and international innovations for local collision repairers, supported by practical exhibitor presentations, industry seminars and panel discussions.

According to the organiser, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), the importance of the collision repair sector was reflected in the significantly high number of trade members who registered specifically for this expo in 2017. This sector of the aftermarket industry attracted almost 30 per cent of the total trade visitors to the concurrently held 2017 Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo and occupied approximately one quarter of the total exhibitor space.

Industry leading paint and equipment distributor, Sydney Automotive Paints and Equipment (SAPE), has returned as the major sponsor of the CRE 2019. The seminar programme will be strongly supported by I-CAR, who will assist in presenting an extensive line-up of industry experts and specialists who will conduct seminars. These seminars will be focused on assisting collision repair business owners to maximise their operating efficiencies and repair techniques.

Along with I-CAR, several leading collision repair industry and media organisations will also be co-locating their activities at the CRE 2019, making this three-day event an integral part of this industry sector’s growth and development.

The importance of practical displays in relation to panel repair work on exotic new metals and composite materials will be highlighted by the number of CRE 2019 exhibitors who will be performing live practical demonstrations at their stands, along with utilising the expo’s unique demonstration spray booth.

This fully functional spray booth enables every kind of surface coating product to be practically displayed, making this a popular attraction with members of the trade who are keen to witness their industry’s latest products in action. It is also a popular promotional platform for exhibitors to showcase their latest surface coating products.

“The 2019 Collision Repair Expo will enable businesses within this major industry sector to stay ahead of the latest developments, products and technical training,” said AAAA Executive Director, Stuart Charity. “This is a sector of the Australian automotive aftermarket industry that must be fully across the rapid technological advancements in products, tooling and repair processes to future proof their businesses. With practical demonstrations, a detailed industry seminar programme and a who’s who of the industry as exhibitors, the Collision Repair Expo has everything that is needed and more all under one roof.”

The speaker and seminar line up for the CRE 2019 is being finalised and will be released shortly.

For more information and free registration, details can be found at www.collisionrepair.com.au.

Industry Support Results In Autocare Show Sell-Out

In what can only be described as an overwhelming vote of confidence by the industry, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) is delighted to advise that the inaugural Autocare 2018 Convention has sold out all sponsorships and trade show spaces.

The Autocare Show welcomes all members of the automotive and collision repair trade to attend this important two-day event absolutely free of charge, to see the latest products and technologies from 100 of Australia’s leading automotive aftermarket companies, take part in live training sessions delivered by local and international experts and benefit from the vast networking opportunities that only an industry event of this size can provide. Members of the automotive trade and their staff can register to attend Autocare 2018 at no charge by visiting www.autocare.org.au

This extraordinary industry interest and involvement has been achieved with just over three weeks remaining before the Autocare Show takes place at the International Convention Centre located at Sydney’s Darling Harbour on May 4 and 5.

An education led event designed specifically for automotive service and repair professionals, parts manufacturers, suppliers and their collision repair industry colleagues, Autocare 2018 has also seen an outstanding number of trade show registrations for this information packed two-day industry event.

According to Stuart Charity, Executive Director of the AAAA, these results are extremely encouraging given that this is the first major automotive aftermarket industry event to be held in Sydney for five years.

“We are more than delighted to see so many leading companies of the Australian automotive aftermarket industry supporting this new and important educational event,” Charity stated.

“The fact that all of our corporate sponsorships and show areas are now sold out reflects the clear intention of these companies to assist their customers, the automotive service and repairers of Australia, as the industry makes the transition to a technology led future. Never before has our industry seen such disruption, innovation and rejuvenation, which is also the theme of this inaugural convention.” He added.

Presented by Platinum sponsor Repco and Diamond Sponsor I-CAR, the inaugural Autocare Show is proudly supported by a host of the industry’s most successful companies including Brown and Watson International, Ryco Group, ASV Euro Car Parts, Burson Auto Parts, Hella, Pedders Suspension, SAPE Group, Lowbake, DNS Technology and CESA Products, together with over 80 Silver and Bronze Autocare 2018 partners.