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AAAA calls for urgent data share enquiry

Code share: The AAAA says the introduction of an information sharing system has made accessing manufacturer's service, repair and diagnostic data even harder.

2014 industry code has been a “monumental failure”: AAAA

16 Feb 2016

The Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) will push for a mandatory information sharing system after car-makers showed an almost complete failure to honour the data sharing code of conduct signed in December 2014.

The association has arranged a series of meetings in Canberra next week to press for an urgent government-backed review of the data sharing system, agreed to little more than a year ago.

“We believe any meaningful review of the operation of the Heads of Agreement on Access (HoA) will come to the same conclusion we have: it has been a monumental failure,” AAAA chief executive Stuart Charity told GoAuto.

If the review, expected to be conducted by the Treasury Department, reaches a similar conclusion, the AAAA will push for mandatory participation by the car makers, as has occurred in some major overseas markets.

When the HoA was signed, the AAAA created an Internet portal so that its members could report problems experienced accessing service and repair information held by the car-makers.

“We now have a snapshot of the depth and breadth of the complaints across different brands. We have compiled the information and made it available to the Government.

“We have had a significant number of cases reported involving 25 to 30 brands, so it is very widespread. The issues are also numerous.”

Mr Charity said there had been no meaningful advance in the availability of service and repair information since the data sharing code was signed by the AAAA, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA) and the Motor Trades Industries Association (MTIA).

“In fact, it could be argued that in many cases the level of information has been reduced,” he said.

“We have evidence of scan tools being downgraded. These are plugged into the on-board diagnostic (OBD) port to diagnose faults and for reprogramming. In the case of one brand, we believe the scan tool functionality has actually been reduced.”

Mr Charity said the failure of the car-makers to honour the agreement signed in 2014 was particularly galling because they are already providing the required information – under government legislation – to independent repairers in Europe, America and Canada.

He said the situation was so bad in Australia that some manufacturers were even withholding the type of oil that has to be used in a bid to force car owners to take their vehicles back to the franchised dealer for something as simple as oil change.

“The OEMs (original equipment makers or car manufacturers) aren’t releasing information on oil quantities and types.

“It’s part of the diagnostics and electronics of the vehicle. We are now seeing logbooks going from paper-based to electronically based.

“Independent repairers are not able to access the log book to record a scheduled service. That’s very important for proof of warranty compliance and for resale value as proof of service history.”

He added independent repairers were still being hindered by restrictive practices around the access to computer codes needed to correctly restart calibrate vehicles after a battery replacement, for example.

“We’re seeing many more issues around the need for pass codes to do basic things like replace a battery.

“If you replace a battery on many vehicles it will reset the vehicle or kills the vehicle. You have to tow it to a dealership and get it reinitialised.”

Mr Charity said the AAAA was aiming to persuade the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business, Kelly O’Dwyer, that the government should institute an urgent review of the data sharing system and the poor performance of the car makers.

“We have statements of support from the opposition and the Greens,” Mr Charity said.

“Senator Ricky Muir said in December that if the government doesn’t act on this he will introduce a private member’s Bill.

“We are back in Canberra next week for a whole range of meetings across the government, the opposition and so on, to ask the government to move on a process to implement a mandatory code, because we don’t think the car industry, which has a massive commercial interest in maintaining the status quo, has had more than enough opportunity.”

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