Recently, representatives from 26 nations gathered in Frankfurt at the Global Right to Repair Coalition and Right to Repair SA (R2RSA) was among them.

The 2018 meeting marked the fourth meeting in eight years. The meeting Chairman, Hartmut Rohl, announced that the coalition attendance had reached 26 nations present, with China and Brazil being the latest newcomers to the meeting. 

Les Mc Master, Director of R2RSA and Vice Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association, says the feedback he presented to the coalition on the recent Competition Commissioner-lead Motor Industry Code of Conduct document soon to be released in South Africa, was met with delight by delegates who have been observing the change in the South African Right to Repair Campaign and eagerly await the outcome. 

“We have been part of the coalition for several years now and our global counterparts have been supporting the campaign and its aims since inception,” says Mc Master. “We believe that the code is a big step in the right direction for the campaign. It is exciting that we are now on the path to correcting the current situation in the industry as has been done in other countries around the world.”

The Right to Repair campaigns internationally aim to allow 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 gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business,” he says. 

Mc Master says, as in South Africa, the status quo is being challenged in other countries as it cannot continue as is. It is exclusionary and unsustainable. “Competition is the basis for an inclusive and sustainable economy. We need to make sure that the independent small business can compete. That is a far more sustainable way of assuring real change. In SA current exclusionary practices mean start-ups are being driven out of business, and job creation is restricted as is the growth of this sector. Denying workshops the chance to repair vehicles because of warranties and access to information has allowed manufacturers to monopolise the automotive industry.”

He adds that the anti-competitive situation means inflated prices for consumers. “Extended warranties are locking consumers into periods where firstly, they have no choice but to use the dealer for repairs and secondly, they are at the mercy of the dealer who can charge whatever rates he/she chooses. Ultimately consumers are being denied the right to have their vehicle repaired at a workshop of their choice. We believe this also inhibits the consumer’s right to support local business. We are driving for much needed change.” 

Other permanent inaugural member associations represented at the meeting included Autocare Association from the USA; Australia Automotive Aftermarket Association from Australia; Automotive Industries Association from Canada; and Figiefa from the European Union.

A representative from each association presented an update on progress in their respective countries and focused on the next industry challenge regarding the connected car and how the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s will be using this to once again gain an unfair advantage with their telematics programmes. “There was much debate on this issue from all the delegates culminating in a joint press release condemning the programmes by all the major manufactures. The EU and USA delegates agreed to put forward their strategies to counteract this,” says Mc Master. 

After the main presentations the floor was opened to the other delegates to enlighten the meeting on the problems in their countries. The Chinese delegation enthralled the delegates with the sheer size of the Chinese motor industry which consists of 500 000 workshops servicing 254 million vehicles. With this staggering number of independent workshops China does not have a trade association regulating any of the workshops. 

“The meeting closed with a unified statement that the independent aftermarkets would not rest on their laurels and will continue, through the coalition, to address the issues regarding OEM malpractices throughout the world,” concludes Mc Master. 

Caption: (From left) Nick van de Belt, EU ADPA Haynes Pro, Les Mc Master, Director Right to Repair SA and Dewald Ranft, Chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association, at the Global Right to Repair Coalition in Frankfurt. 


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