Quebecers will head to the polls in a month’s time and the automotive aftermarket wants to make sure its concerns are at the forefront.
The Quebec division of the Automobile Industries Association of Canada issued a statement this week outlining its concerns. The division represents more than 6,500 businesses in the industry, from repair shops to banner head offices. Almost 91,000 people work in the province’s automotive aftermarket.
“Unlike other Canadian provinces, Quebec does not manufacture vehicles but rather specializes in the aftermarket sector, which covers maintenance and repair, as well as the distribution and sale of parts,” the statement said.
It noted challenges that need to be overcome to ensure vehicle safety and the importance of preparing for the arrival of electric vehicles.
At the top of the list was right to repair. Data collected by vehicles are transmitted to the manufacturer, which then limits what independent repair shops can get and how many can access the data.
“Without access to this data, independent auto repair shops cannot fix a vehicle,” the statement said, adding that this results in higher consumer costs.
“We’re not just talking about engines, transmissions, or other ‘big ticket items’ here, but also the installation of tires, windshields, windshield wipers, etc.,” said Élisabeth Lambert, president of the AIA Canada Quebec Division and vice-president of Joliette Auto Parts.
The group wants to see legislative changes to give vehicle owners free and complete access to data generated while driving, along with the option of sharing access with the shop of their choice, the statement added.
Meanwhile, electric vehicles are gaining in popularity. Quebec has one of two provinces that offer rebates on purchases. In the first quarter of this year, the province saw 13.6 per cent of new vehicle registrations as a zero-emission vehicles.
“For the shift to electric vehicles to accelerate, repairs must be easily and quickly accessible at a reasonable cost here in Quebec,” the statement said.
It observed that new data technologies integrated into electric vehicles create laborious, and expensive, maintenance. This can be a deterrent to buying an EV.
What the group wants to see is an end to EV components and systems included in the fight against programmed obsolescence.
“Electric vehicles already require more sustained maintenance and many owners, faced with complications and very high costs, are disappointed,” said Patrick Saint-Pierre, of the Monaco group and executive member of the AIA Canada Quebec Division. “In addition, they sometimes have to send their vehicle more than 500 km away for a simple repair. The time to act is now”.
Finally, the group is shining a light on workforce training as labour challenges continue to hit the aftermarket hard.
“Every day, we hear from colleagues who are losing income and who are forced to delay making appointments because of a lack of employees,” Lambert said. “Yet winter tire installation or brake replacement, for example, cannot afford to wait. The potential consequences are too serious.”
The group wants to see ongoing support for developing the automotive trade and better access to both skilled and unskilled foreign workers. It also is calling for investments to train EV workers.
The AIA Canada Quebec Division said it is intending to send demands to main political parties, along with a commitment questionnaire. It will also intervene in current events related to industry issues.
“The next elections will be decisive for the development of Quebec and its regions,” the statement said. “The tangible proposals put forward today will allow the automotive aftermarket to continue to fully assume its role of maintaining safety, creating good jobs in Quebec, and making the repair of all types of vehicles on Quebec roads more accessible.”