The Fight For Fair Competition In the Automotive Service Industry
There is a battle brewing across the nation in the automotive repair industry. On the one hand, you have the automotive manufacturers and dealers, and on the other, the independent repair shops and aftermarket parts manufacturers.
The local independent shops are lobbying to gain access to the valuable proprietary information that the manufacturers have for repairing vehicles. The independent shops cannot access important repair codes and information that is locked in the computers. This locks them out of servicing vehicles for many ailments that are often some of the most lucrative jobs. As vehicles become more complex and computerized, more jobs are required to be performed at the dealerships.
Many independents and related industry organizations are getting together to lobby lawmakers across the nation to gain access to this important information so that they can compete with the big boys.
Another player in this game would be the aftermarket parts manufacturers. They also want access to information that would allow them to replicate OEM vehicle parts. They feel that they need a foothold to manufacturer more affordable parts that customers would welcome because they typically are less expensive. The auto manufacturers argue that this is proprietary information, and that the quality also suffers with these cheaper aftermarket parts.
Some lawmakers argue that their main concern in all of this is the consumer. They want the consumer to have access to parts and service at a more affordable price, but they also want the service and parts to maintain a high level of quality. When a customer’s vehicle is up on a Four Post Lift, he wants some assurance that the technician is capable of doing the job right, and that the parts they are installing are of a reasonable quality.
The auto manufacturers have a valid point in that they manufactured the vehicles and they should have the right to keep proprietary information just as many manufacturers of other types of products do. After all, they were the ones who spent all that money on the necessary R&D to develop the product.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. There are implications in many areas, and there’s a lot of money on the line.
What do you think? Do you have any comments on the subject?