Following in the footsteps of U.S. auto makers and marketers and the Automotive Service Association (ASA), Canadian auto marketers have signed an agreement with the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA) to allow independent auto repairers to access the same auto service and repair information that franchised auto dealers get.
Representatives of the Canadian automotive aftermarket, however, claim the signatories of the agreement deliberately excluded them from negotiations and also are trying to cut off further action on a Right to Repair law that passed Parliament by a landslide last May.
NATA, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association (CVMA) and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada (AIAMC) announced the agreement Sept. 29 at a press conference at an independent repair shop in Ottawa.
Under the agreement, auto makers are to provide independent repairers with access to all service, repair, tooling and training information in their possession no later than May 2010.
According to the three signatory associations, the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) makes a Right to Repair law unnecessary.
(The) CASIS is a great industry solution for a long-standing industry challenge, said AIAMC President David Adams in a press release.
The Automotive Industries Association of Canada, however, called the CASIS a flawed agreement that does not represent the majority of independent auto repairers in Canada.
Neither AIA, its members or its partnering associations were included in this process, despite repeated attempts by AIA to engage the car company associations in dialogue and identification of key concerns, the AIA said in a press release.
AIA President Marc Brazeau protested CASIS in a Sept. 28 letter to Tony Clement, Canadian Minister of Industry.
We are at a loss as to explain why the car manufacturers would exclude AIA in these discussions in favor of a loosely affiliated organization that represents less than 5 percent of the marketplace in very few provinces, Mr. Brazeau wrote. Moreover, it is our understanding that this organization also represents new car dealerships within its membership, clearly a conflict of interest.
Mr. Brazeau asked to meet with the minister and his staff to discuss the Right to Repair issue.
In its press release, the AIA noted that Bill C-273, the Right to Repair Bill, passed Parliament by a 247-18 vote in May. The legislation, which would have sanctioned auto makers that failed to make repair and diagnostic information available to independent garages, was scheduled in October for review by Parliament's Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
The Canadian action mirrors the agreement approved in the U.S. in September 2002 between auto makers and the Automotive Repair Association. That agreement set up the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) to oversee the flow of information from auto makers to independent repair shops and handle the complaints of independent repairers.
The ASA and the auto makers claim the voluntary agreement and the NASTF obviate the need for Right to Repair legislation. However, groups such as the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and the Tire Industry Association insist both are too weak to help independent repair shops. They continue to work for passage of Right to Repair bills in the U.S. Congress and in various state legislatures.
The AIA counts among its members all the provincial tire retailer organizations in Canada: The Atlantic Tire Dealers Association; the Ontario Tire Dealers Association; the Western Canada Tire Dealers Association; and Association des Specialistes du Pneu du Quebec Inc.
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