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Data access is the new information availability

Monday, July 2, 2018 - 07:00
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Why should repairers be interested in what’s going on with autonomous vehicle policy, data access and cybersecurity? Because having the right tools and the right information to repair vehicles are critical elements to the longevity of a successful automotive repair business.

Those reasons apply to both mechanical and collision repairers. Without access to important data, repairers will struggle to provide consumers the level of service necessary to sustain their businesses.

At the center of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) legislative debate was the issue of service information, or better known as “information availability.” The Automotive Service Association (ASA) worked diligently to get language into the CAAA that required,  “manufacturers to provide promptly to any person engaged in the repairing or servicing of motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines … with any and all information needed to make use of the emission control diagnostics system … including instructions for making emission related diagnosis and repairs.”

“No such information may be withheld … if that information is provided (directly or indirectly) by the manufacturer to franchised dealers or other persons engaged in the repair, diagnosing, or servicing of motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines.”

It required several attempts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to get a workable information availability regulation, as well as an industry agreement to assure new automaker websites included nonemissions information. Most industry experts agree that the current process works for the independent repair industry.

With the onslaught of new vehicle technologies and much public policy focus on autonomous vehicles (AV), automotive repairers are again at a critical juncture for the future. The term in the early 1990s was “information availability,” but today’s terminology is “data access.” ASA is an active member of multiple coalitions addressing new vehicle technologies, data access and cybersecurity, including:

• Ad Hoc HAV Data Access Coalition

• Aftermarket Telematics Task Force

• Coalition for Future Mobility

• Global Alliance for Vehicle Data Access

Several states have moved quickly to address research and deployment policy for autonomous vehicles. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued guidelines on many of these issues for states and the industry, the U.S. Congress has yet to finalize legislation in these same policy areas. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution (H.R.) 3388, the SELF DRIVE Act, which clarified state and federal roles in the autonomous vehicle policy arena. However, the SELF DRIVE Act did not address the data access issue for independent repairers.

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