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November 2023

At AAPEX the worldwide gathering of aftermarket associations

Paola Zaccheroni

Right to repair and upskilling at the centre of the debate
On 2 November, the seventh meeting of Associations in Motion, the global alliance of Auto Care (USA) and AICA (Italy), took place in Las Vegas at the AAPEX Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo.
Aftermarket associations from all over the world came together to take stock of hot topics and major political-economic trends, which unite countries with different degrees of industrial development, legal systems, and social configurations, but first and foremost, the main subject was the electrical and digital transition.
The proceedings, opened by Bill Hanvey (President of Auto Care), got straight to the heart of the matter with the topic of access to on-board information by independent garages. After the success in 2022 with the Declaration on the Global Right to Repair, signed by more than 20 associations, from Australia to Europe, from North to South America, Alana Baker (Canada) and Lesley Yates (Australia) charted the course for the coordination of PR professionals, proposing a platform for information sharing, a documentation centre on the most effective lobbying techniques, also with a view to designing further global actions. All this in order to disseminate a system of regulatory principles that each legislator can adapt to its own national context and each stakeholder can invoke in defending its own rights and those of consumers.
As proof of the enthusiasm of this working group, the Right to Repair Campaign Tactics Workshop, open to all public relations professionals and dedicated to examining three case studies, followed at the end of the meeting. These case studies, starting from the Right to Repair lobbying activity, offered methodological insights to overcome deadlocks, face obstructions and finally achieve results. Alana Baker (Canada) presented the campaign to the government of the Province of Quebec, Jordy Brunet (Egea) spoke about the integrated application of alliances, expert advice and press relations in the Data Act case, and Lesley Yates (Australia), outlined the grassroots initiative that brought 75 Members of Parliament to the workshops, capturing and sustaining media and political attention for a prolonged period of time.
Returning to the Associations in Motion meeting, the focus shifted to the transformation of trade shows, with Mark Bogdansky (Vice President Meetings & Events Auto Care Association) animating the discussion by recalling how AAPEX (owned by Auto Care and MEMA) has evolved from a pure exhibition to a place of experience, where it is possible to try out installed and working equipment and do full-immersion technical updates. With excellent results in terms of attendance and loyalty.
The topic of training and continuing education was the focus of the report by Stuart Charity (Canada) and the undersigned (Paola Zaccheroni, AICA): we highlighted how today, particularly with regard to work on electrically powered and ADAS-equipped vehicles, governments, industry associations, public and private training institutes and companies must find a functional integration to meet an unprecedented demand for upskilling and reduce the gap between demand and supply of skilled labour. We also presented some proposals developed within the working group, including an international exchange programme of “best trainers” and an investigation into the possibility of jointly developing and distributing courses and digital content for technical training in the sector.
The next meeting will be online and is scheduled for spring 2024.

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