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Forcing their Hand: In Motion Brands COO says right to repair ought to be a consumer-led issue

Toronto, Ontario — Non-dealer affiliated repairers struggle every day trying to access the data they need to fix vehicles, and according to an industry executive on a recent AIA Canada webinar, the OEMs wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada held a webinar several weeks ago, called “ The Data Dilemma: Who Owns the Data Generated by Your Car?,” and COO of In Motion Brands, James Channer, laid into some of the key reasons why the right to repair movement has yet to pick up steam among the major OEMs.

“Let’s be real, the OEs have no motivation to provide access [to data], unless they’re required to by some type of enforcement,” said Channer, in discussion with AIA Canada president J.F. Champagne and president and founder of Quorus Consulting Group, Rick Nadeau.

“As the data has been showing, not only have they seen a significant decrease in actual new car sales, they’re also seeing a significant decrease in Canadian consumers going to their service bays. More and more Canadians are choosing automotive service providers in the aftermarket.”

Channer says the option for consumers to seek repairs at non-OEM repair facilities directly threatens automakers’ ability to monopolize their given market, and therefore causes some to take action to obscure what little information they do provide to repairers.

He remarked that in many cases vehicle manuals and sales contracts make no mention of data ownership, essentially misleading customers by omission. Similarly, a commenter noted that they often can’t even get straight answers from OEMs on how many sensors are in a given vehicle model, for example.

“Their defence is going to be to protect their interests, and that means the data.”

Channer, like many advocates of the right to repair movement, feels that voluntary OEM agreements about vehicle data are not the way to go, instead suggesting that consumers truly wield the power of influence.

“I don’t see that changing with the enforcement of legislation and that legislation won’t change until consumers, and the public as a whole, make it a priority.”

Nadeau backed up Channer’s words with data from 2,000 Canadian drivers, collected as recently as June 2021, that show the average driver to still be woefully unaware of the valuable information their vehicle’s carry.

The data shows that about one third (34 percent) of drivers surveyed think they own all of the data generated by their vehicle, as compared to 30 percent who think the manufacturer does.

Despite this understandable ignorance, 76 percent of the drivers feel they should own their vehicle’s data and 74 percent had never even considered the data being generated by their vehicle prior to the survey.

The stumbling block that Channer keys in on, however, is that 80 percent of respondents feel that OEMs could be doing more to push this issue, as compared to 68 percent who place the responsibility on government.

If drivers are expecting OEMs to pull their weight in the right to repair movement, they are sorely mistaken, according to Channer.

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