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Industry trade groups sign R2R info agreement

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WASHINGTON (Jan. 23, 2014) — Four major auto and aftermarket associations have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to ensure reasonable access to auto repair and diagnostic information to all independent repair shops and do-it-yourself vehicle owners nationwide.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), the Association of Global Auto Makers (AGA), the Automotive Industry Aftermarket Association (AAIA) and the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality (CARE) announced the MOU Jan. 22, setting the stage to settle a disagreement that's been active for more than a decade.

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In the MOU, the parties agree to extend the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act — which became law in Massachusetts last year — to all 50 states.

The AAIA and CARE agreed to join the AGA and AAM to oppose further state Right to Repair legislation while they work together to implement the MOU.

The Right to Repair Act mandates that auto makers provide to vehicle owners and independent garages, in an accessible and reasonably priced format, the same repair and diagnostic information they give their franchised dealers.

A spokesman for the AAM said the MOU builds on, rather than supersedes, the information agreement reached between auto makers and the Automotive Service Association (ASA) in September 2002. In that agreement, auto makers promised voluntarily to make repair and diagnostic information and tools available to independent garages.

Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association photo Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association.

That agreement also set up the National Automotive Service Task Force as a watchdog organization to ensure auto makers fulfilled their obligations under the agreement.

However, advocates of Right to Repair argued that auto makers still withheld important information or made it difficult to access under the voluntary agreement.

"We are excited that consumers and independent repair facilities around the nation will have the same access to the information, tools and software needed to service late model computer controlled vehicles as is required under the Massachusetts right to repair statute," said AAIA President and CEO Kathleen Schmatz.

"We believe that the resulting competitive repair market is a win-win for car companies, the independent repair industry and most importantly consumers."

AAM President and CEO Mitch Bainwol said: "Auto makers manufacture high-quality, innovative vehicles that provide strong value, safety, and convenience to our customers.

"Accessible, efficient, accurate, and competitively priced repair and service are paramount, and franchised dealers and the aftermarket play unique and important roles in the repair process."

AAM photo Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

AGA President and CEO Mike Stanton said: "Much like with fuel efficiency economy and greenhouse gases, a single national standard regarding vehicle repair protocols is imperative.

"A patchwork of 50 differing state bills, each with its own interpretations and compliance parameters doesn't make sense. This agreement provides the uniform clarity our industry needs and a nationwide platform to move on."

CARE President Ray Pohlman said: "Since the first Right to Repair Act was introduced in Congress in 2001, CARE and the automotive aftermarket have worked to ensure our customers continue to have the right to choose where they buy their parts and have their vehicles serviced.

"This agreement will ensure vehicle owners will have competitive and quality choices in their repairs while strengthening the auto repair industry nationwide. This agreement illustrates what can happen when organizations focus on putting customers and consumers first."

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is an association of 12 vehicle manufacturers: BMW Group, Chrysler Group L.L.C., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars North America.

The Association of Global Automakers represents international motor vehicle manufacturers, original equipment suppliers, and other automotive-related trade associations. Members include American Honda Motor Co., Aston Martin Lagonda of North America Inc., Ferrari North America Inc., Hyundai Motor America, Isuzu Motors America Inc., Kia Motors America Inc., Maserati North America, Inc., McLaren Automotive Ltd., Nissan North America Inc., Subaru of America Inc., Suzuki Motor of America Inc., and Toyota Motor North America Inc.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association is a Bethesda, Md.-based association whose more than 23,000 members and affiliates manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, service, tools, equipment, materials and supplies. Through its membership, the AAIA represents more than 100,000 repair shops, parts stores and distribution outlets.

The Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality is a national organization that represents companies in the automotive aftermarket. CARE member companies include AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, NAPA and O'Reilly Auto Parts.

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