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The 2019 AFCAR Manifesto for freedom in car-repair

Massimo Brunamonti

The European Commission is still working on the issue of open data access, a confrontation ground between manufacturers and independent repairers
The Commission's work on remote diagnostics under EU Regulation 2018/858 on vehicle type-approval has reached a climax. Between October and December, three meetings of the working group of the Directorate-General for the Internal Market and Industry are scheduled, in which the European elite in the field of automotive diagnostics and telematics will participate. The topic is always the same: access to vehicle data and information security, but linked to an increasingly complex scenario that involves connected vehicles.
Once again, different positions came to the fore among the various actors, as explicitly reported by the Commission itself: on the one hand, car manufacturers, represented by ACEA, pushing for the Extended Vehicle solution, and on the other hand, the entire car repair sector represented by EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association) as part of the AFCAR coalition, united and determined in demanding direct, safe and non-discriminatory access.
Discussions are still heated and in progress: as already announced, the Commission will take stock of the situation and on the basis of the results it will finance, at the beginning of the new year, an independent study to identify the solution, to be implemented already during the spring of 2020.
This is a decisive moment; the decisions that will be taken will have consequences for the whole car repair world and not only, for years to come. This is why AFCAR, the Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair in Europe,  has decided to publish the 2019 Manifesto in favour of an open and competitive data access for all in the car repair sector. AFCAR represents the entire industry including spare parts dealers, repairers, insurance companies, leasing companies, consumers and SMEs and stands united in favour of the right to choose in the age of connected cars.
The 2019 Manifesto addresses the need for an updated and modern approach to the digital economy in line with the ambitious plan to support European innovation, which requires adequate legislation to ensure competition in a modern economy.
A key aspect of the problem, the Manifesto states, is the need for direct, real-time access to vehicle data and their functions, and a specific legislation that allows both innovation and competition to the point of ensuring that the EU remains at the forefront of the connected and autonomous car race.
And this open and non-discriminatory access must be guaranteed to all, first and foremost to independent operators who, together with authorized dealers, contribute to the creation of a service network which is both competitive and widespread. What independent and non-independent car repairers are demanding is access to the data and functions of the vehicle to an extent that exceeds what has been proposed so far. For example, remote diagnosis and scheduled maintenance are gaining popularity among garage specialists. Connected cars can be diagnosed wherever they are, not necessarily in the workshop. And  remote diagnosis can also lead to scheduled (or predictive) maintenance: if I know the status of my battery or tires or brakes, I can plan to change them before a break down or to avoid running the risk of an accident, booking my trusted workshop according to my schedule through my smartphone.
This is the direction in which everyone is rapidly moving, setting up computer platforms capable of supporting it all. The problem is: who is allowed to access these platforms and how adequate these platforms are. The so-called "Extended Vehicle" for example, according to AFCAR is not a solution because, besides  the inherent potential for discrimination, it is not suitable to support the whole diagnosis process and represents a huge investment against little benefits.
AFCAR, taking the OBD as an example, along with the regulations that have allowed the exercise of competitive car repair over the years, argues that alternative approaches would be more appropriate to solve the problem. One of them, the so-called OTP, an on-board inter-operational platform for standardised access, open and secure, could guarantee IT protection and privacy and, at the same time, access for all.
The European Parliament, notes AFCAR, has already issued two resolutions requiring the Commission to take legislative action to ensure honest, secure, and neutral access to vehicle data for any third party provider of automotive repair products and services. Unfortunately, though, the situation in which the market verses raises doubts as to whether such conditions can be met.

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