With summer nearing its end and fall just around the corner, I’m always paying closer attention to the political cycle, as November elections will be here before you know it. Of course, there are issues up in my neck of the woods that don’t concern the majority of our readers, but federally, there is one that concerns all of us. You guessed it: Right to Repair.
This column will be banging that drum. Why? Because our livelihoods depend on it. Our pockets depend on it and our freedom depends on it.
We are all automotive aftermarket consumers. If you can’t get access to your car’s data, it begs the question about the personal privacy we do have, the right to own the things you buy and the data you create. Rep. Marie Glusenkamp Perez (D-Wash.) said it well in an interview with Politico, who credited the Washington State auto shop owner for “closing the widening gap between the party’s brain trust and its blue-collar roots…by reconnecting Americans with our lost ability to ‘fix your own s@!t.’” You know what she means.
“[We’re] becoming increasingly disenfranchised from the technology we rely on, being pointed more and more toward a permanent class of renters and not ownership,” she told Forbes. “It’s really terrible for the middle class… and I think it’s bad for our identity.”
The freedom to fix your vehicle, as Glusenkamp Perez puts it, and decide to whom you give the data you create to fix it, is a personal freedom.
The freedom of where you fix your car has a domino effect for our industry. If an auto repair shop doesn’t have access to the data it needs to fix your car—that includes wireless diagnostic data—the consumer’s money is going elsewhere (ahem, dealerships). That lost business means that local technician is not going to choose your company’s aftermarket parts to fix their customer’s car. Instead, the replacement part that goes in their car will be defined by the OE part relationships that carmaker has.
Bill Hanvey, president of the Auto Care Association, said it well in an exclusive Q&A with AMN.
“Vehicles are becoming more connected now and the ability to remotely diagnose a vehicle when it’s not in the shop is a capability that the aftermarket, as well as the dealers, should have. Remote diagnosis can determine the severity of the issue… It also allows the aftermarket repair provider to determine what parts are needed, which reduces customer wait time and cost. Wireless diagnostics allows repair professionals to predict an issue before it occurs – keeping drivers on the road safer and longer. Vehicle owners should determine who has access to that type of data to obtain the services they deserve. Dealers also can’t accommodate the volume of aftermarket service if consumers are steered away from our essential industry. The aftermarket performs 70% of post-warranty repairs and there aren’t enough dealer bays to service vehicles in a timely manner.”
And that statement just scratches the surface.
We’re dealing with a significant power struggle between consumers and corporations. When consumers have the right to decide who has access to their car’s data, not only do they win, but we also win as a united aftermarket across the board.
With this said, the Auto Care Association’s Legislative Days & Leadership Summit is taking place from Sept. 20-21 on Capitol Hill. What better way to advocate for your industry than in the halls of the US Congress?