Out of sight, but out of mind?

Neil Pattemore looks ahead at the host of legislative challenges the aftermarket faces over the coming months and years

By Neil Pattermore |

Published:  01 February, 2019

Some people listen but they don’t hear, others are disbelievers, while others consider that if it worked yesterday it will still work tomorrow. Many of us don’t like change, but I am sorry to inform you, but change is a’ coming!
    
I was recently discussing with a workshop owner about the legislation that helped his business, but when I mentioned ‘the third mobility package’ his eyes glazed over like I was Kaa the snake from Disney’s Jungle Book and I was trying to hypnotise him!
    
However, this is not a work of fiction, but the serious issue of how you need legislation to support your business. Currently, there is a lot of discussion during the remaining tenure of this Commission in preparation for the next European Commission in September 2019, concerning how a whole variety of ‘mobility services’ around vehicles will be provided and what legislation will be needed, which will impact the future of the European aftermarket, but also the UK after Brexit.
    
Sorry to be the messenger of doom and gloom, but the automotive industry is changing and with it, the aftermarket. It may not be too long before you become aware of just ‘how good you have had it’ and to use another colloquialism, ‘you will miss it when it’s gone’. So, what’s going on in Brussels?
    
Vehicle technology is changing at an ever-increasing rate, but most critically this includes the connected car, where a vehicle and its data can be accessed remotely. This is great news for the development of new services, new diagnostic and repair methods, the vehicle has become part of the internet of things that enables traffic flow management, the implementation of intelligent transport systems to reduce accidents and ultimately, autonomous vehicles. In legislative terms this creates a whole new raft of challenges – but most critically, how to handle the safe and secure communication with the vehicle.
    
The third mobility package seeks to address some of these aspects, one of which is fundamental – who controls access to the vehicle and subsequently data. In simple terms, simply plugging in to a vehicle to conduct diagnostics or repair and maintenance will be controlled by the vehicle manufacturer unless the legislator does something. To most of the UK aftermarket, this is an ‘out of sight and out of mind’ scenario. However, we are at a crossroads and the only way forward is legislative action.
    
So, what else are the jolly Eurocrats in Brussels working on that may impact the aftermarket?    
    
Although this may be an excellent example of how slowly the wheels of legislation can turn, one of the most important ‘left overs’ from the Euro 5 legislation that came into force in 2007, is the inclusion of a reference to ISO 18541, which standardises the access to repair and maintenance information via vehicle manufacturers’
websites. Additionally, and linked to the ISO 18541 implementation, will be the inclusion of the SERMI scheme – the Secure Repair and Maintenance Information which will provide accredited access to vehicle anti-theft information, data and parts for independent workshops. Both of these should significantly help in avoiding having to refer your customer’s vehicle back to a main dealer to finalise a repair job.
    
In another recognition of increasing vehicle technology, there will be the finalisation of the access and data requirements to test electronically controlled safety systems via the OBD port in Roadworthiness Testing – the MOT test to you and I. However, there is much discussion, both in Brussels and in the ISO standardisation, about exactly what the test methods will be and what data the vehicle will provide. There is some risk of the vehicle just testing itself without the ability to have independent functional testing. Oh what fun we can look forward to with older vehicles when inventive ways are found to avoid that pesky little MIL light coming on!

Multi-faceted
This also leads into another discussion around how access to the vehicle will be possible. The beloved OBD connector and the corresponding data for diagnostics, repair and maintenance is now referenced in the revision of the Euro 5 legislation (EU 2018/858), but it is by no means clear exactly what this means in technical terms, or indeed how the access may be controlled by using electronic certificates. No firm proposals are yet on the table and the corresponding menu of whether it will be a feast or just some crumbs will be a major subject of discussion. This is yet another example of how connecting to an object that is part of the internet of things is a multi-faceted topic that will impact the aftermarket. This moves into another sphere with the inclusion into legislation of remote diagnostic support (RDS) – originally from heavy duty vehicle legislation implemented in 2009 (!), but under the new EU 2018/858 it will also apply to passenger vehicles as well. This is intended to allow the remote diagnostics of a vehicle, but it is certainly not clear how this may be achieved independently of the vehicle manufacturer, as they would then know you and your customer, as well as charging you for this RDS service.
    
To better understand the vehicle manufacturers’ extended vehicle model that would be used to provide this RDS service, the Commission are currently monitoring a proof of concept that seeks to assess what is possible. From the outcome of this proof of concept, the current Commission are likely to make recommendations for the incoming Commission for future legislation. However, a recent study conducted by the aftermarket associations in Brussels showed that this extended vehicle model provided very limited data, with further costs and contractual restrictions, making it unusable for truly competitive services. The battle lines have been drawn.
 
Implementation
On a more tangible note, there is a request for a better implementation of the Machinery Directive. ‘Yeah’ I hear you say, but a recent study showed that out of 47 lifts inspected throughout Europe, 11 (23%) were found non-compliant with a total number of 24 non-conformities. The European Garage Equipment Association (EGEA) has therefore called on the Commission to stop dangerous and non-compliant workshop equipment being sold in the EU by imposing stricter and more effective market surveillance and thus avoid further deaths and serious injuries, as well as ensuring fair competition in the marketplace.
    
Although Brussels is ‘out of sight and out of mind’ to many UK workshops, there are many critically important discussions currently being held, leading to future European legislation that will be needed to ensure the continued ability to independently access, diagnose, repair, service and maintain objects that are part of the internet of things – which for the Aftermarket means vehicles. Much to think about and much to fight for!

xenconsultancy.com

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