It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago, we signed the Right to Repair Memorandum with the Engine Manufacturers Association, representing all the major engine and truck manufacturers. We knew, when we signed this agreement, that this was only the first step in a long process to provide the parity in vehicle repair capability that the aftermarket channel was seeking. Signing an agreement and getting the right software requires bridging a big divide. Some manufacturer’s software was integrated into their dealer packages so they had to create new software for independent service shops. Other manufacturers did not have a sales interface to sell the software and one had to be created. Still others were reluctant to follow the MOU and chose to be selective in what software they offered.
Even after receiving the software, an even bigger task awaited us. We had to test each manufacturer’s software to make sure it met the requirements of the MOU. Once we received software (which often took many months because of the issues mentioned above), the testing began. Inland Truck Parts was very generous in assuming this role. They procured all the software for all engines and vehicles and brought in vehicles to test. The industry owes Inland Truck Parts a huge thank you for taking on this role and expense. In the meantime, NASTF was alerted to the available software so they could represent it on their website and service shops could link to the OE’s to order the software. To find a link to the OE software, go to www.nastf.org and go to the tab for OEM Service Websites.
We collected a lot of information and prepared a report of the software deficiencies relative to the requirements specified in the MOU. A letter was written to the Engine Manufacturers Association notifying them of the non-conformance issues, and requesting a plan to bring all the OE software into compliance. We requested a response by January 1, 2017. We are hopeful that the remaining issues will be resolved by the first quarter of 2017. If we are not successful negotiating acceptable changes to what is being offered, we have multiple ways of proceeding. The MOU does provide for an independent arbitrator to resolve any disputes. In addition, everything we asked for is incorporated in the Massachusetts Right to Repair legislation. Failure to comply with that law could result in economic sanctions against a non-complying OE’s. At this time, I do not believe that either of these remedies will be necessary. The EMA and the OE’s involved in the negotiations were committed to resolving the right to repair disparity and will most likely work to get us the compliance we need.
One of the areas we could not get built into the Right to Repair MOU was training. Independent service shops need to get training for their technicians, specifically in the use of this new software and upgrading their skills in order to compete with the OE dealer. CVSN began working with several heavy duty service training providers. We found that we need to provide several options for our industry because the needs were different for each service shop. These training providers offer a full range of technician training for differing vehicle systems. It is modular, so it can be used for all training from beginners to top technicians. You can pick the specific training you need. In addition, it helps with ASE certifications and assessment testing. They also have both on-site, regional, and internet based training available. CVSN also worked with these providers to make sure costs were low and CVSN members do receive a discount.
As part of our mission to help grow the independent aftermarket channel, CVSN will remain engaged in this effort. It is vital that independent service shops have parity in capabilities and training with OE dealers. As vehicles become more complicated, we have to have access and capabilities so we do not lose connection to the fleet customer. New technologies like telematics have to be considered. In addition, we have to remain engaged with other entities who are working on additional legislation for off-road and agricultural vehicles. Please send me any questions and I will try to answer them expeditiously.
Chairman of the Right to Repair Coalition