FCAI Chief Executive, Tony Weber talks about access to service and repair information, imported used cars and the importance of the new AADA to Dealers.
The inclusion of Tony Weber at this year’s Convention proved extremely useful for Dealers as he shed light on the pressing ‘right to repair debate,’ the progressing FCAI Access to Service and Repair Information Code and protecting Dealer interests surrounding this contentious issue.
Straightforward and statistics-focused, Weber commenced his address by noting his appreciation towards the AADA for their level of support and engagement. Weber went on to specifically thank AADA President Ian Field, CEO Patrick Tessier and Policy Director Michael Deed for their particular involvement.
Weber cited the process that the FCAI had followed in their Code development, including liaising with the AADA, Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA), Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF), Australian Automobile Association (AAA) and other parties. He summed up the Code as an agreement which provides clearer guidance to the service and repair information available to independent repairers with the overall aim of ensuring consumers have the right to choose.’
Indeed, ‘the consumer’ proved to be a major focus of Weber’s discussion as he noted that the consumer’s interests should be taking precedence above other considerations.
In saying this, Weber was quick to highlight the significant role that Dealer’s play in servicing Australia’s fleet, including the substantial investment Dealers make in training and equipment.
In order to protect the consumer as well as the Intellectual Property of manufacturers, Weber commented that ‘in [the auto] industry like many others there’s some information that cannot and will not be shared.’ He went on to concede that ‘some people need to realise that the days of the local garage servicing every car in the local neighbourhood are over.’
Considering the complexity of the 16 million cars on Australian roads, not to mention the sheer number of brands, Weber noted that the notion of one garage handling every repair is ‘absurd.’
Instead, Weber promoted a fair playing field between independent and dealership repairers, suggesting that the FCAI expects ‘all repairers to be appropriately trained and to invest in tools and equipment, to follow the manufactures instructions and use the manufacturers’ genuine or demonstrably equivalent parts.’
Halfway through his address, Weber’s focus shifted to the issue of large-scale used imports or ‘grey imports’ – another topic which has been closely followed and documented by Automotive Dealer.
Weber first acknowledged the sheer level of work that has gone into achieving Australia’s high safety and environmental standards in the motor vehicle fleet, before asking the question ‘why would we want to give them up?’
According to Weber, grey imports will not only undermine the industry, but impact the entire dealership network through loss of revenue, loss of staff and pressure on service departments.
He drew on examples from New Zealand to highlight his points, and, as reported in these pages, discussed the risks to the consumer purchasing cars with unknown service and repair histories.
To combat the issue, Weber urged Dealers to talk to their local members of parliament and actively involve themselves in debates in order to protect their business, the consumer and the industry overall.
Weber particularly emphasised the importance of the new AADA, citing that the stronger the Association the more seriously it will be taken and the better the outcomes for Australia’s new-car Dealers.