Auto Service World
Feature   January 1, 2010   by Auto Service World

Letter To The Editor… (January 01, 2010)

Dear Editor,

I am always interested in coverage of the topic of electronic cataloguing in the aftermarket, but your November story (How the e-Cat Changed Everything) leaves the reader with the wrong impression of the current state of the industry and the impact of the aftermarket data standards.

Your story reports that “while the closest in terms of industry standards has been…ACES/PIES…some manufacturers have complaints and believe there is a better model out there.” The story then goes on to report on the formation and objectives of Free-Cat. Infact, Free-Cat was not formed in response to complaints about the industry standard, ACES. Free-Cat is a response to the business model that charges a fee to users for content compiled by electronic catalogue companies. In fact, the preferred format for catalogue data input at Free-Cat is ACES.

The ACES standard was developed in the AAIA Technology Standards Committee by representatives of the very companies who formed Free-Cat and who support the joint venture with TecDoc of Europe. The standard has been successful in reducing the number of formats that suppliers must support. This helps reduce the cost of publishing catalogues electronically.

And ACES is having one of the predictable results that come from any technical standard. That is to reduce the barriers to entry and increase competition. Is Free-Cat the answer? Is the European model the way to go? I don’t know. But I do know that competition and innovation will drive down costs and deliver even more catalogue content to the marketplace faster. After 25 years, there is more competition in the area of electronic cataloguing than ever before.

Scott C. Luckett Vice-President, Technology Standards Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association

Editor’s note: While the story does not specifically state that the complaints by manufacturers leading to Free-Cat and other initiatives relate directly to the ACES and PIES standards, their close proximity in the story may have inadvertently given that impression and we offer the above letter as a clarification.

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