The National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) now has three of the major German auto manufacturers signed on to its Service Information Standards Agreement, as the NASTF continues to work to bring more carmakers into the mix.
Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC signed the agreement, joining other auto manufacturers agreeing to make service and training information and tools accessible to all vehicle repairers on an equal basis. Volkswagen and BMW are the other two German automakers that have signed the agreement.
“Obviously, we’re trying to get them all to sign,” NASTF Chairman Charlie Gorman says of carmakers. “But one of, I think, the things we always worry a little bit about are the imports, especially European imports, because they’re usually a little tighter with their information.”
The NASTF still has the main goal of bringing Chrysler and General Motors onboard.
OEMs that have signed the agreement are BMW, Volvo, Subaru, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda, Honda, Suzuki, Kia and Mitsubishi.
Whether subsets of major automakers need separate agreements depends on how they operate, says Gorman, adding that examples include GM and SAAB or Ford and Volvo.
“If an OEM treats one of their subsidiaries as a separate entity, obviously we’d have to get a separate agreement,” he states. “It mostly depends on if it’s a separate engineering unit or not.”
The NASTF has agreements in various spots throughout the legal process at various OEMs. However, these are the same departments also dealing with the government and trying to get bailout money.
“It’s hard to tell. I would assume that it is (affecting looking at the agreements),” Gorman says. “Again, that’s on the OEM side. I don’t know how their daily activities run. But right now I think that certainly they have bigger problems on their minds than this…But I can’t speak for them.”
The standards consist of three parts: definitions, automotive service information standards and information request and resolution process. The definitions define what is covered and what is not covered. The standards stipulate how OEMs will ensure open accessibility. The information request and resolution process provide checks and balances, including binding arbitration if needed, to identify and assess potential information gaps.
Much of the standards embody the practices that have been in place for over six years, with the addition of a binding arbitration backstop included in the NASTF Dispute Resolution Process, according to NASTF.