Before Tuesday’s fireside chat with President George Bush at the start of AAPEX 2019, Auto Care Association President Bill Hanvey and AASA President Paul McCarthy alerted attendees to the importance of engaging car owners, legislators and industry professionals about the issues surrounding vehicle data.

Auto Care Association President Bill Hanvey, left, and AASA President Paul McCarthy at a post-fireside chat media briefing Tuesday, the first day of AAPEX 2019. Photo by Mark Phillips/Aftermarket Intel

“We’re the presidents of the associations that bring you AAPEX every year…but do you know what else we are? We’re consumers – and we drive cars – just like you, and the rest of the 218 million drivers driving 286 million cars on the road today,” Hanvey said. “Like you, this issue runs to our core – the aftermarket is our passion. Our livelihood. It’s in our blood. And we want to protect that.”

“Our industry needs to collaborate now more than ever, and we’re setting the example. You may have seen our announcement in September, but in case you haven’t, Auto Care Association and AASA are now partnering on the Your Car. Your Data. Your Choice consumer education campaign,” Hanvey said.

“Your Car. Your Data. Your Choice. was created to engage car owners, the industry, policymakers, and other stakeholders on vehicle data – what it is, why it matters, and its implications for consumer choice. Without control of and access to the diagnostic and repair information wirelessly transmitted from vehicles, consumers could face increased cost and inconvenience, jeopardizing the future of the aftermarket and forcing consumers to pay more for – or worse, delay – car repairs,” Hanvey said.

“The aftermarket industry has always had the ingenuity to make quality replacement parts and to repair vehicles. Today that ability requires direct access to vehicle data. As technology advanced, OBD ports were introduced to retrieve data. Today, the data is collected wirelessly, known as telematics,” McCarthy said.

Vehicles are generating up to 25 GB of this data per hour, and by 2022, 87 percent of new vehicles in the U.S. will transmit data — everything from how fast you accelerate or brake, your location, even how much you weigh, McCarthy explained to attendees. “Yes, your car knows – and it’s tattling – on how much AAPEX shrimp you ate. But the most important information of all – is the repair and diagnostic information needed to maintain these vehicles. This is the problem: Automakers could become the exclusive gatekeepers of vehicle data.”

The greatest threat to our $405 billion U.S. light and heavy-duty aftermarket industry is the accessibility of vehicle data, a potential monopoly, McCarthy said. “Just think about the impact that not having the independent aftermarket could have on business, on your friends & family, and on all of our ability to have access to the freedom our vehicles bring.”

“Imagine a single mother who uses her car to drive to work, her kids to school, to go to church. She’s working hard to make ends meet. What if she can no longer drive 10 minutes to her trusted repair facility down the street?,” McCarthy asked. “What if her car needs emergency service and the only repair facility that the vehicle manufacturer allows her to go to is an hour away? Or can’t get her vehicle in a bay for another week? How does she get to work to pay her bills? What decision will she make when the price is more than she is used – or able – to pay?”

“These are some of the implications we – and consumers – need to think about when it comes to vehicle data,” McCarthy said.

But there is good news, according to Hanvey.

“Think about when we get telematics and access to data. Here’s what it can do for the industry: smart inventories, reduced returns, reduced warranty claims, more efficient bay times, a better relationship with the end consumer whether it’s DIY or DIFM…the efficiency of the supply chain will explode. We also will get the ability to meet motorists needs, everywhere,” Hanvey explained.

“What can we expect to see when consumers have access to their data? Choice, convenience, increased safety and higher satisfaction. The competitive market that is at the heart of free enterprise. Think about tomorrow’s technicians who will need to develop skills in digital circuitry, software, and data privacy and security; true high-tech jobs that could increase wages and service revenue. Our industry needs to invest in new skills, training and governance. The bottom line: access to vehicle data will ensure an industry attractive to Millennials and Gen Z, a technology industry offering opportunities and growth; an appealing future for the industry we love,” McCarthy said.

Hanvey encouraged attendees to tell their legislators about the issue. “You provide jobs to the economy. You need to demand this,” Hanvey said. “You need to engage in it.”

McCarthy told attendees to sign the petition for access to vehicle data. “The more signatures we get, the more prominence the issue will have. There is no reason we shouldn’t get 100,000 signatures – or more – which will force legislators and regulators to take notice,” he said.

Hanvey told visitors to visit the Demand Access and Control Wall on the Lower Level Lobby to share #WhyISigned the petition and encourage others in your company, family and friends to sign as well.

Hanvey and McCarthy announced big changes for AAPEX.

“For the first time in a long time, we have the opportunity to expand AAPEX, our homecoming,” Hanvey said. “And we are doing it with the industry and the end user in mind – the people who throw the box out.”

Among them: creation of a new space on level 1 called Repair Shop HQ, where anything and everything that the service professional needs, can be found. Several of the show floor sections you’re used to seeing will live there, including Tool and Equipment, Mobility Garage and Training, plus a brand-new tire section, Hanvey said.

“There will be compelling changes to attract more technicians to AAPEX,” McCarthy said. “Next year in Repair Shop HQ, you’ll find a fully built-out shop on the show floor where service professionals can get real hands-on training. We are enhancing and expanding training to include even more on alternative vehicle technologies, as well as undercar and underhood. We will be bringing in some of the country’s leading shop trainers to help us in this endeavor.”

AAPEX also will feature a new robotics and warehouse equipment and logistics section. “The ultimate goal of this expansion is to enable AAPEX and the entire supply chain to be more efficient from start to finish, while proactively addressing changes in the industry by presenting solutions,” Hanvey said. “We will deliver solutions to the shop in order for them to be ahead of the curve. We will enable our distribution partners to make inventories more efficient, more viable, and more available to the customer. And we will champion opportunities for parts manufacturers to utilize data more efficiently to enhance their relationship with their customers.”

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