Australia’s peak automotive industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has challenged assertions that lack of access to service and repair information is putting jobs at risk in the automotive aftermarket.
With over 17 million cars presently on Australian roads, Australia’s 23,000 independent service and repair outlets currently undertake most car services across the country, compared with approximately 3,500 new car dealers.
Given that Australia’s service and repair industry – both independent and through dealer networks – already has access to detailed and comprehensive data and information, FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber has questioned the need for a mandatory data-sharing regime.
“With 23,000 independent outlets already having access to information on 85 per cent of the market via the FCAI website and other sources, where is the market failure that we are trying to address?” Mr Weber queried.
“With independent repair operators already servicing a vast majority of the Australian car fleet, the sector is already accessing important information to enable it to carry out service activity. Otherwise, how are these vehicles currently being serviced?” Mr Weber said.
The FCAI strongly supports a viable independent service and repair sector, which creates choice and competition for consumers. However, the industry places a high premium on security, environmental standards and the safety of motorists and as such, has stopped short of opening access to security and safety information.
Whilst the FCAI maintains that a mandatory regime is not required, if the government were to consider this path, it carries considerable responsibility and necessary investment by all automotive repairers.
“The Government needs to ask how much additional red tape is needed to address a perceived future problem. To mandate this process will require vast amounts of regulation and a new bureaucracy to police the system to ensure consumers are protected as vehicles become more and more complex,” Mr Weber said.
“Mandated access to complex automotive service and repair data must also bring with it the need for the independent sector to invest heavily in the appropriate levels of training and equipment.
“In addition to information, a mandated regime for repair businesses will need to ensure that all registered repairers can demonstrate that they have the correct tools, technical equipment, and training to service modern, high-tech cars. Each of these factors will require ongoing investment by the service provider to maintain standards and ensure community safety,” Mr Weber added.
He said that independent repairers should make greater use of available resources before the sector is compelled to utilise a burdensome mandatory regime.