Even as Canada’s automotive aftermarket continues to build its usage of OEM repair resources made available through the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS), that 2009 voluntary agreement is at risk of being outpaced by rapid technological change.
“Obviously the goal is to ensure fair and equal access to repair information, tools, and training for the aftermarket,” offers Jean-François Champagne, president of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada. “That is the focus. CASIS became one method to address the needs of the aftermarket when it was adopted. It has worked relatively well so far, but as the car changes, what is meant by fair and equal access also changes.”
With connected car technologies including but not limited to telematics, sweeping changes are coming to diagnostics and preventative maintenance and that falls outside the scope of current agreement, he says, and include whole new areas, such as ensuring cyber security of the vehicle.
“When you think about the future, that is a concern for us. What is fair and equal access when vehicle data becomes available everywhere all the time through telematics?”
He says that this is the key motivation as industry players continue to work toward agreements that will address future access realities.
The Three-Pronged Approach
Ensuring Canada’s Aftermarket is Part of the Regulatory Future
Continuing to participate in the meetings and high-level discussion of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications to raise awareness of the aftermarket and concerns around telematics.
The goal here is to ensure that the aftermarket is at the table when regulations covering the evolving mobility landscape are drafted.
Association vice-president France Daviault and Champagne appeared before the Committee in May 2017 to deliver testimony on the committee’s study on the regulatory and technical issues related to the deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles.
Daviault put the issue succinctly: “Vehicle manufacturing cannot enter the 22nd century, while the aftermarket remains in the 21st century.”
The North American Conversation
As the complexity of vehicles advances, the U.S. and Canadian automotive sectors become even more integrated. Some solutions to telematics are more North American solutions rather than Canadian.
“We are participating in meeting in the U.S., such as MEMA, AutoCare, ASA, and tool manufacturers, who all have vested interest in ensuring that there is fair and equal access,” says Champagne.
Government Relations and Education
The emphasis is on the connected vehicle, rather than autonomous vehicles at this point.
“We are going to see the connected vehicles as much more of a present reality. There is also a large ecosystem that supports the vehicle on the road. It employs 400,000 people and any change to the regulatory framework has to include the aftermarket.
Unless we have fair and equal access, the aftermarket is not going to be able to repair those vehicles,” he says.
“We ware still hopeful that like CASIS we are still able to come through a negotiated voluntary agreement, but failing, that we would be seeking the support of the government to ensure that fair and equal access.”
Despite the continuing work, Champagne would like to see more progress: “I’m a little concerned because we are seeing some conversations and we are seeing some programs and some solutions being outlined, but we can only observe that we are living in a world that is increasingly accelerating and when you put into mind those trends, I think we are not moving fast enough. “
What You Can Do
Champagne says that the independent repair community can help by keeping itself informed of the technologies and repair challenges, and keeping apprised of developments in industry by attending conferences and training sessions.
“And educate your customers about what it all means. We know that pretty much two thirds of Canadians when placed with a choice, will go to the aftermarket. Consumer choice is a good thing and clearly the choice of consumers is the aftermarket.
The bottom line is that, with the car parc of 26 million vehicles, we need the aftermarket to service the car parc.
“And we know too that as long as we have the tools and the training and the information, the aftermarket is as capable as a dealer to maintain those vehicles and at a good price point.”