With an election just weeks away, topics like ensuring access to vehicle data and industry investments will be top of mind for aftermarket professionals when speaking with candidates.
“The theme of right to repair now, as part of this election, we hope is going to be a bigger conversation,” said J.F. Champagne, president of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada. “And so this is why between now and Sept. 20, our goal is to make sure that all the candidates that are running for office know that we too support ‘right to repair.’ Not just for consumer goods — like your cell phone — but also for automotive. So that’s going to be the effort.”
With Bill C-11 dying because of the election call, movement on right to repair — from cellphones to vehicles — will need to restart. That means placing a renewed focus on ensuring a legislative solution on ensuring aftermarket access to data is figured out.
“We need comprehensive legislation on right to repair for Canadians,” Champagne told AutoServiceWorld. “This also extends to vehicles. [Electric vehicles] need to be covered by a legislative right to repair.”
Diane Freeman, executive director of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario, agreed.
“We just want to be able to repair the vehicle. When the vehicle comes in for repair, if we can’t access the codes and the information on that vehicle, then we can’t do the repair,” she said in an interview. “So it doesn’t make sense for the consumer.”
Indeed, consumers — the voters — can be left frustrated by the lack of options for vehicle repairs. “Not every place has a dealership close by, so you have to kind of rely on the aftermarket. And I think that’s where right to repair comes in,” Freeman told AutoServiceWorld.
And it would be in a politician’s best interest to back the push. Champagne cited data that showed 94% of Canadians agreed that consumers should be able to get their car serviced at any repair or service shop. Furthermore, 83% of Canadians said that automotive manufacturers should be required by law to share data with independent repairs and mechanics to fix vehicles.
“So whether you’re Conservative, Liberal, NDP, it doesn’t matter. The people voting for you strongly support the concept that we need to have legislation in this country that will ensure right to repair,” Champagne said. “Without it, those increasingly electric and connected vehicles will not provide consumer choice.”
Another area Freeman would like to see investment in is training. “The biggest problem is, it’s not mandated [that] a technician has to upgrade their training.”
Freeman would like to see a government-mandated number attached to required training hours so that consumers know they’re getting serviced by adequately trained professionals. Especially with the mandate for electric vehicles, plenty of training will be needed.
“It’s going to be ongoing because every time you turn around and look at any vehicle now, everything pertaining to the car is all electronic,” Freeman added.
The future will require more technicians as well. Freeman would like to see better investments in attracting more people to the trade.
“Not at the high school level, but even before that — at the grade school level. It’s certainly different nowadays than it was even 10 years ago. It’s more diagnostic, it’s more computerized. We need to try and draw the young minds into our industry.”