WASHINGTON (March 14, 2005) — Looking to counteract other aftermarket organizations in their advocacy of the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) is joining with auto makers to combat the legislation.
Together the ASA, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) have formed a new group, the Coalition for Automotive Repair and Fair Information Xchange (CARFIX).
Modeled apparently on the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE), which campaigns for the Right to Repair Act, CARFIX is designed to campaign against the legislation. The basic thesis of CARFIX is that the September 2002 voluntary agreement between ASA and auto makers for the setup of vehicle repair and diagnostic Web sites is working well, making legislation unnecessary.
“We want to make sure that our voice is heard, too,” said Jeannine Ginivan, communications director for the new coalition. “We have not only technicians as members but also manufacturers who are committed to making the information sharing work.”
Supporters of the bill were unswayed by the new coalition's formation. “Regardless of what is stated by CARFIX, our independent dealers continue to complain about the accessibility and affordability of vehicle information available from the OEMs,” said Becky MacDicken, director of government affairs for the Tire Industry Association (TIA).
The press release announcing the formation of CARFIX was issued March 2, the same day as the Aftermarket Legislative Summit. During the summit, representatives of 11 aftermarket organizations—including CARE, TIA and the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA)—lobbied Congress for their legislative agenda, especially for passage of the Right to Repair Act.
Essentially, the Right to Repair Act would levy stiff fines against auto makers that don't provide to independent auto repairers, in an economical and readily accessible fashion, the same vehicle repair and diagnostic information and tools they give their own dealers.
Supporters of the bill—largely aftermarket associations that weren't privy to the ASA agreement—insist the auto makers' information Web sites are often incomplete, hard to navigate and prohibitively expensive. They also deny the claim of the bill's opponents that the Right to Repair Act is a back-door way for aftermarket parts manufacturers to gain access to proprietary original equipment technology.
In tandem with the formation of CARFIX, a letter was sent March 1 to all members of Congress, signed by ASA President Ron Pyle and by Phillip D. Brady, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).
“NADA and ASA believe that the information necessary to diagnose, service and repair vehicles is already being made available to all parties in the automotive repair industry,” Messrs. Pyle and Brady wrote. The National Automotive Service Task Force, set up to resolve any disputes regarding the information Web sites, is doing its job well, they added.
Of the approximately 119 million repair jobs performed by independent shops in the U.S. last year, fewer than 20 were hampered by lack of timely data, Messrs. Pyle and Brady claimed. These figures came from the proponents of the Right to Repair Act themselves, they added.
Currently CARFIX has no plans to hold an event similar to the Aftermarket Legislative Summit, according to Ms. Ginivan. “Individuals in our group might do that (contact their elected officials), though that's not to say CARFIX as a whole wouldn't do it in the future,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to reintroduce the Right to Repair Act in the next few weeks. CARE will host a fundraiser April 20 in support of the legislation in Washington.