Will ‘Freedom of choice’ offer opportunity for independent aftermarket?

Late last week, the Association of Global Automakers and Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers released a document titled “Consumer Privacy Protection Principles.”

In it, the two groups outlined a series of customer privacy options they hope to see manufacturer’s implement and offer to purchasing customers. The groups say these options will allow customers the opportunity to opt-in or out of transmitting vehicle and personal information to OEMs and/or service providers through telematics technology.

Not long after the document was released, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) responded positively, writing the document could be the “first step in providing greater transparency and privacy” for vehicle owners.

“MEMA believes there is still much work to be done to ensure motorists continue to have the freedom of choice where their connected-vehicle is serviced as well as the freedom of choice to send vehicle data directly to independent service providers, in both the light-duty and heavy-duty vehicle sectors,” says Steve Handschuh, MEMA president and CEO.

That last clause is important.

While the Association of Global Automakers and Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers are light-duty focused operations, their efforts last week could have a profound impact on the heavy-duty market as well.

‘Freedom of Choice’ isn’t an automotive specific concept. Owner-operators and fleets also have shown interest in acquiring the ability to transmit or withhold vehicle information.

The commercial vehicle access to repair information debate (aka Right to Repair), is fundamentally supported by the concept that customers should have the freedom to choice any service provider they want when in need of vehicle repairs — OEM dealer or aftermarket.

Fleets were incredibly supportive when the topic was broached at TMC’s Annual Meeting in Nashville in March; and progress early in the year on the light-duty and heavy-duty sides of the access to repair information debate shows total freedom of choice grows closer every day.

But it’s also important to note that while the independent aftermarket would benefit from ‘Freedom of Choice’ and ‘Right to Repair’ rulings, the industry itself will still require an overhaul to profit from these new service opportunities.

Customers won’t come simply because they can — they’ll still need assurances that the independent aftermarket is trained and equipped to handle their needs.

To read more from the “Consumer Privacy Protection Principles” document, please CLICK HERE.

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