An interesting case is unfolding in the United States that has implications in the long term for independent service providers. As of last month, a federal court is hearing arguments as to whether U.S...
An interesting case is unfolding in the United States that has implications in the long term for independent service providers. As of last month, a federal court is hearing arguments as to whether U.S. states have the authority to regulate carbon emissions from automobiles, a trial on the heels of an earlier April 2 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that ordered the federal government to take a new look at regulating carbon dioxide emissions. Already, states like California have adopted tough emissions rules, and in 2005 put in place some of the toughest, which the auto manufacturers are now trying to fight. Other U.S. states are already following California’s lead in putting in tough emissions regulations.
While the automotive sector in the U.S. is protesting the rules, saying there is no way to meet the targets for carbon reduction in the time required, it is a foregone conclusion that whether in the short-term or long-term, car manufacturers will be rolling out new emissions technologies. Consumers are now demanding more ‘Green’ vehicles, ones that impact the environment less while going further on a litre of ever costly gasoline. And that will put pressure, along with whatever legislative prodding that may exist, to build cars that meet consumer’s environmental demands, both in United States and in Canada.
The only way those targets are going to be reached is through more sophisticated computer control over the emission systems in order to regulate what comes out of the tailpipe; and the programming of the ECMs and other onboard computer systems will likely become more complicated as well. At the same time, the auto makers will likely fight harder to keep how those technologies work and the programming behind them a tightly guarded secret, and only release the tools and codes to the technicians in the dealerships, freezing the independents out; or taking much longer to make those tools and codes available to the independents, thereby impacting their long-term financial health.
The big car makers will argue that these kinds of restrictions will be necessary to protect the huge financial investments they have made in developing these technologies. This will be a compelling argument, especially for some in the halls of government. In the United States, major corporations have been successful in lobbying Congress and the House of Representatives to pass tougher laws to protect intellectual or copyrighted technologies and materials.
Canadian independents will have to fight hard and in a concerted way to prevent that from happening. Right-to-Repair is a good start, but everyone will have to band together through their industry organizations to make sure they are not locked out of the emerging market opportunities. These vehicles will require technicians to upgrade their technical skills and to have the newest tools to flash upgrade the computers and diagnose what is wrong with them. Without those tools and training, along with the access to the codes, consumers may save with the ‘Green’ cars, but independents may be seeing red instead.
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