The recent defeat of the Ontario right to repair bill may have been focused on access to repair information and parts for electronic devices, but the automotive aftermarket in Canada should sit up and take notice.
The automotive aftermarket does currently enjoy access to original equipment service information and tools as provided through the CASIS voluntary agreement, which despite its shortcomings – shortcomings that saw the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario seek to create its own agreement with the NASTF organization in the U.S. – is what that we have to work with on that front. There are, of course, a number of robust third-party information providers that most shops rely on for their daily repair information needs.
Do not take the status quo for granted. The political and economic landscape has clearly changed.
Agreements like CASIS and the right to repair legislative push, which has had some success in the U.S., was predicated on the consumer’s right to choose their place of repair. This consumer desire was seen as paramount. It is not the aftermarket’s right to repair, it’s the consumer’s.
Today, governments at all levels are tripping over themselves to keep industry happy, and mostly big industry, as they compete for investment and jobs across domestic and international borders.
While associations and industry groups have done some very good work to raise the profile of the aftermarket at the political level, it’s critical for individual business owners and those who work in the industry to do their part.
Pick up the phone and invite municipal, provincial, and federal politicians to your place of business. Do not just send an email.
Few things have as much impact on politicians as face-to-face meetings with constituents.
Get to know them, and let them get to know you.
Talk to them about the access that you have now, and what this means to keeping citizens safe and mobile, and keeping the environmental impact of their cars to a minimum.
Tell them how the value equation of the automotive aftermarket helps household budgets and other businesses thrive in the mobility ecosystem.
Remind them that more constituents (read, voters) get their cars repaired in the independent aftermarket than any other channel – a lot more.
And tell them what it would mean to you and your customers if you were no longer able to get accurate repair information, tools, reprogramming downloads, etc.
In the coming technological revolution, it is going to take continual effort at all levels to ensure that the automotive aftermarket does not suffer from a technological lockout in a new mobility world.
Repairs are increasingly going to be more and more about data than just parts, and ensuring fair access is ensured in the future in Canada is worth fighting for.
– Andrew Ross, publisher, Indie Garage