On 8 May over 150 select delegates attended a breakfast event, hosted by the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) at Automechanika, dedicated to the Right to Repair Campaign.
Among the delegates were representatives from NAAMSA; franchise dealer groups; independent dealer associations; various universities, the Automotive Industry Development Council; DTi; neighbouring countries, and the National Consumer Commission.
“This is the largest gathering to date of significant people in the industry and rightfully so for such an important topic, the Right to Repair,” says Vishal Premlall, Director of MIWA.
MIWA, which represents 2 500 independent aftermarket dealers, launched the Right to Repair Campaign in 2013 and has been leading the way to bring about change since then. “South African legislature needs to follow the international Right to Repair trend which promotes South Africa’s existing consumer and competition laws,” explains Premlall.
In essence the Right to Repair Campaign allows consumers to select where their vehicles are serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice.
“There is a need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment that enables freedom of choice for the consumers and that gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business,” he adds.
Guest speakers at the event included two international guests; namely Neil Pattemore, Technical Advisor to both FIGIEFA (Association of European parts distributors) and the EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association) and Hartmut Röhl, FIGIEFA President.
“Both Neil and Hartmut have been championing the Right to Repair cause in Europe with great success. It was exciting to hear about the Europe’s automotive aftermarket structure, and the work that FIGIEFA is doing in Brussels.” Along with that the speakers covered an overview of the current EU legal framework for vehicle spare parts, servicing and repair.
Pattemore also addressed the ‘game changing’ challenge created by technical innovation and the control of in-vehicle data for the Aftermarket. This included an overview of the latest legal developments in European legislation on e- Call and telematics including access for independent market operators to connected vehicles. He also looked at the implications of telematics for free consumer choice and their impact on a competitive automotive aftermarket value chain.
Les Mc Master, National Chairman of MIWA, and Jan Jooste, Director of Innovation at the Vaal University of Technology, completed the speaker line-up. Mc Master provided an update on the progress status of the Campaign in South Africa and highlighted what needs to be done to make Right to Repair a reality in South Africa.
Jooste, who has been instrumental in conducting research in South Africa relating to the Right to Repair Campaign, shared the findings of his study with the attendees.
“This event has been ground breaking. We have brought vital role players together and tackled sensitive but burning issues around the Campaign,” says Premlall. “He adds that through collaboration with all affected role players, that the implementation process could be simplified.”
“Access to information is increasingly important in an era of technological advancements. Not having access to certain information has allowed OEMs to monopolise the automotive industry by refusing to provide the requisite codes for security systems, diagnostic systems and telematics systems, but to name a few, to independent aftermarket dealers. Where the required codes are not available, the independent aftermarket dealers are precluded from repairing those vehicles which leaves the consumer with the franchise dealers as their only alternative.”
“We believe that both the lack of access to information and the stringent framework surrounding warranty, maintenance and service plans, minimises, if not destroys, the consumers right to choose and places OEMs and their franchise dealers with the exclusive control of that segment of the market. This imbalance needs to be addressed in South Africa as it has in other parts of the world, and we will continue to champion the cause until the change is made,” he concludes.