The voluntary agreement approach to obtaining access to repair information in the U.S. was dealt a blow this week when negotiations between vehicle manufacturers and aftermarket groups came to a halt. Negotiations between aftermarket groups and vehicle manufacturers over the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act (HR 2048) concluded without a non-legislative agreement, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) and the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE) announced. While there have been some early discussions in Canada regarding improving access to repair information through a centralized database and website system as there exists in the U.S. through the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), early discussions with manufacturers in Canada rode at least partially on the hope that progress in Canada would be made in tandem with that of the U.S. The voluntary approach has been judged preferable due to the quicker implementation timeline that would accompany it as compared to taking the legislative approach, which could be protracted. “While a great deal of progress was made during the negotiations, critical issues that could impact the future viability of the agreement and the ability of independent shops to repair late model highly sophisticated vehicle systems remain unresolved,” stated Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. Right to Repair legislation now being considered by the U.S. congress would mandate that car companies make the same information and tools available to the aftermarket that they make available to the new car dealers. Issues that remain unresolved include: –governance of a reconstituted and enhanced National Automotive Service Task Force that would have been equally managed by both the aftermarket and the vehicle manufacturers and would have assisted technicians obtain necessary information and tools for vehicle repair; –whether independent technicians would be able to obtain full access to all diagnostic and repair capabilities that are available to the car company franchised dealer; and –if the necessary tools and software would have been provided to independent shops to repair vehicles equipped with anti-theft immobilizer systems. “AAIA and CARE believe that both sides made strong efforts to reach an agreement, the positions of both groups on these issues were too far apart to be resolved,” said CARE president David Parde. “It was our hope that we could avoid legislation, but it is clear that absent a statute, many of the vehicle manufacturers are not going to change their policies that favour new car dealers,” Parde continued. “Although AAIA, CARE and other groups supporting HR 2048 remain open to the future possibility that a deal could be reached, at the present time we believe that it is in the best interest of the independent aftermarket and its customers to continue to push for passage of Right to Repair legislation in order to ensure competition in the vehicle repair and service market, now and into the future,” Schmatz stated.