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News   March 5, 2018   by Allan Janssen

New NATA president promises action on CASIS

Toronto shop owner John Cochrane says so-called ‘Right to Repair’ agreement needs to be updated to reflect vehicle technology and growing aftermarket challenges.

John Cochrane

The incoming president of the National Automotive Trades Association (NATA) says it’s time to fix the voluntary agreement that was intended to give independent repair shops full access to OE service information.

John Cochrane, owner of Cochrane Automotive in Toronto’s west end, says the Canadian Automotive Service Information Standard (CASIS) is poorly monitored, poorly promoted, and poorly utilized.

“We have not had a CASIS general meeting since the document was signed nine years ago,” he says. “With all the change that’s going on, that’s just not acceptable. It needs to be updated to make sure it works for service technicians.”

Cochrane was voted in as NATA president at the end of January.

NATA is an umbrella organization comprised of automotive service associations across Canada.

John Norris, president of the Hamilton District Autobody Repair Association (HARA) in Ontario, will continue to serve as NATA’s collision chairman. Ron Tremblay, chairman of the Automotive Retailers Association of British Columbia (ARA), joins the NATA executive as mechanical chairman, and Diane Freeman, president of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO), is secretary-treasurer.

As president, Cochrane will coordinate the aftermarket’s position on what was once referred to as the “right-to-repair” issue. Key concerns of the independent aftermarket have expanded beyond just service information to include training, tools, telematics, calibration of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and vehicle security protocols.

“Some people have said that everything is perfect. Well, it’s not perfect,” says Cochrane. “Technicians can’t get a lot of stuff like Honda and Toyota security. That’s not available. It’s fully available in the U.S., but not in Canada. That’s very high on my list of what needs to change.”

He’d also like to see more CASIS meetings, as well as public meetings where the entire industry – including vehicle manufacturers, shop owners, technicians, towers, and locksmiths – can ask questions and voice concerns, much the way the National Automotive Service Information Task Force (NASTF) operates in the United States.

He acknowledges that will come at a cost – something that has been a barrier to promoting CASIS in the past.

“We need to figure out a workable funding model, because as an association of associations, we do not have a lot of funding,” he says. “My recommendation would be to work much closer with the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA) to bring the aftermarket industry together and make us more effective in fighting for our future.”

He acknowledged NATA and AIA are likely to have differences of opinion from time to time, but they have a common interest in supporting independent auto repair.

“AIA is not going to agree with everything we want to do, that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with some disagreement,” he says. “The best way to go would be to work with them, rather than against them. We need to get on the same page.”

AIA and NATA are both signatory groups to the CASIS agreement, and both get two delegates on the CASIS board. NATA’s delegates are Tremblay and Rob Lang, the owner of Richmond Motorworks in Richmond, B.C., and the former president of NATA. The AIA’s delegates are Carey Browning, a Canadian Tire vice president, and J.F. Champagne, president of AIA.

The other signatory groups to the CASIS agreement are the Global Automakers of Canada (GAC) (formerly known as the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada), and the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association (CVMA).