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OTTAWA (Oct. 2, 2009) — Following in the footsteps of U.S. auto makers
and the Automotive Service Association (ASA), Canadian auto makers have
signed an agreement with the National Automotive Trades Association
(NATA) to allow independent auto repairers to access the same auto
service and repair information that franchised auto dealers get.
Representatives of the Canadian automotive aftermarket, however, claim
the signatories of the agreement deliberately excluded them from
negotiations, and also are trying to cut off further action on a Right
to Repair law that passed Parliament by a landslide last May.
NATA, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association (CVMA) and the
Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada (AIAMC)
announced the agreement Sept. 29 at a press conference at an
independent repair shop in Ottawa.
Under the agreement, auto makers are to provide independent repairers
with access to all service, repair, tooling and training information in
their possession no later than May 2010.
According to the three signatory associations, the Canadian Automotive
Service Information Standard (CASIS) makes a Right to Repair law
“CASIS is a great industry solution for a longstanding industry challenge,” said AIAMC President David Adams in a press release.
The Automotive Industries Association of Canada, however, called CASIS
a flawed agreement that does not represent the majority of independent
auto repairers in Canada.
“Neither AIA, its members, or its partnering associations were included
in this process, despite repeated attempts by AIA to engage the car
company associations in dialogue and identification of key concerns,”
AIA said in a press release.
AIA President Marc Brazeau protested CASIS in a Sept. 28 letter to Tony Clement, Canadian Minister of Industry.
“We are at a loss as to explain why the car manufacturers would exclude
AIA in these discussions in favor of a loosely affiliated organization
that represents less than 5 percent of the marketplace in very few
provinces,” Mr. Brazeau wrote. “Moreover, it is our understanding that
this organization also represents new car dealerships within its
membership, clearly a conflict of interest.”
Mr. Brazeau asked to meet with the minister and his staff to discuss the Right to Repair issue.
In its press release, AIA noted that Bill C-273, the Right to Repair
Bill, passed Parliament by a 247-18 vote in May 2009. The legislation,
which would have sanctioned auto makers that failed to make repair and
diagnostic information available to independent garages, was scheduled
in October for review by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Industry,
Science and Technology.
The Canadian action mirrors the agreement approved in the U.S. in
September 2002 between auto makers and the Automotive Repair
Association. That agreement set up the National Automotive Service Task
Force (NASTF) to oversee the flow of information from auto makers to
independent repair shops and handle the complaints of independent
ASA and the auto makers claim the voluntary agreement and NASTF obviate
the need for Right to Repair legislation. However, groups such as the
Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association and the Tire Industry
Association insist both are too weak to help independent repair shops.
They continue to work for passage of Right to Repair bills in the U.S.
Congress and in various state legislatures.
Overall, the problem with the Canadian Automotive Service
Information Standard that was developed by Canadian vehicle manufacturers and
the National Automotive Trades Association is that while it appears to commit
the car companies to make information available, in reality it is a
loosely-worded document which is not legally enforceable and excludes areas of
information, software and tools that are currently the most problematic for
In addition, and of major concern over the long term, is the
fact that the agreement attempts to proclaim that all repair information is
proprietary and therefore provides full control of use of that information to
the vehicle manufacturer. The aftermarket believes that service information
used to repair cars is not proprietary and should be widely available to the
independent service industry. While we are agreeable to pay the car companies
for the distribution of the information, we are unwilling to concede that it is
proprietary since it is made widely available to franchised dealers and their
Other problems with the agreement include:
The bottom line is that this agreement provides little of
reassurance to independent shops that car companies will ensure availability of
all of the service information, tools and software needed to repair late-model
computer-controlled vehicles. This is just the latest example of how the car
companies continue to avoid coming up with a real solution to the service
information and tool issue both here and in Canada
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