Auto Service World
News   July 20, 2022   by Adam Malik

Why right to repair can’t be voluntary

AIA Canada’s Alana Baker speaks during the webinar, ‘The Data Dilemma: Who Owns the Data Generated by Your Car?’

For one automotive aftermarket leader, the choice is clear: Right to repair must be a legislated solution.

A voluntary agreement will not work at all, according to Alana Baker, senior director of government relations with the Automotive Industries Association of Canada.

Speaking during the recent AIA Canada-hosted webinar, The Data Dilemma: Who Owns the Data Generated by Your Car?, Baker emphasize the importance of a legally-binding agreement over one that isn’t.

“Any solution that’s based on the notion of voluntary compliance and individual responsibility is not going to lead to the envisioned and desired results; it will not achieve the goal as intended,” she said towards the end of the webinar that included AIA Canada president J.F. Champagne, Rick Nadeau, lead researcher at Quorus Consulting Group and James Channer, co-founder and chief operating officer of In Motion Brands.

“In fact, we’ve seen it firsthand that some notable auto manufacturers have refused to join the current voluntary agreement between automakers and the aftermarket, which undermines the agreement’s effectiveness.”

Baker went on to note that other sectors’ and other jurisdictions’ experiences with voluntary agreements cement the fact that this method doesn’t work citing “alarmingly low” compliance rates.

“So voluntary agreements or memorandums of understanding, if you will, are simply legally non-binding expressions of goodwill. And these types of agreements will not result in meeting the policy objectives,” she said.

That’s why a legislated solution is the only option the aftermarket should pursue. But it needs to be backed up with strong enforcement mechanisms to ensure accountability for automakers and hold them liable for violations.

“I will say that importantly, accountability and liability represent two key aspects of leading best practices and policy approaches,” Baker said. “So these have to be taken into consideration. And this will also ensure that we can close any long-standing loopholes with the current agreement that’s in place.”

Keep in mind that research has found Canadians overwhelmingly (83 per cent) support right to repair legislation, she added.

“So for a truly open and fair and competitive Canadian automotive aftermarket to continue to exist, consumers need to be protected by legislation to reflect the new reality of vehicles in Canada and give the aftermarket direct remote and real-time access to diagnostic data and to the vehicle itself,” Baker said.

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1 Comment » for Why right to repair can’t be voluntary
  1. Art French says:

    Absolutely agree. I couldn’t understand trashing legislation when it was on the table in favor of a voluntary program. To date, some manufacturers still refuse to allow aftermarket techs access to security updates and programming, especially in Canada. R2R legislation in the US falls short also. It only covers vehicles manufactured since 2018 and only covers some modules, such as powertrain. The way vehicles are today, most systems need programming after repair, especially with module replacement. We need better access to these systems, preferably without having to buy a dozen laptops and VCI’s to go with the subscription.

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