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IAAF Conference – The ongoing battle to save the OBD Port

By autotech-nath on February 4, 2018

The IAAF Annual Conference addressed some of the major issues predicted to impact our industry in 2018 and beyond, including global influences, technical threats, rapidly evolving technology and Brexit. The emergence of the ‘Connected Vehicle’ raises the issue of data ownership, and lifestyle changes leading to car rental/sharing and the increasing use of e-hailing with the likes of Uber, are changing the automotive aftermarket landscape significantly. The trend towards autonomous vehicles is gaining momentum, and the latest car registration stats show a steady rise in hybrid and electric vehicle sales.
The lacking EV infrastructure is something the UK needs to address and, critically, training in the repair of these vehicles. Our industry may be on the verge of a major shift – the likes of which we have not seen before – with technology driving many changes directly affecting the way in which vehicles can be diagnosed and repaired. We’ll look at each of these areas in detail in the coming issues. Here’s a taster of what was discussed at the IAAF Conference in December…

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive, noted the ongoing discussions in Brussels regarding Type Approval legislation. To understand the gravity of the situation, she reminded the conference that the Vehicle Manufacturers have 134 dedicated lobbyists at the EU promoting their interests, against a handful of dedicated aftermarket groups and representatives. Technicians are fully aware of the importance of an accessible OBD port but, if the radical changes proposed by Type Approval legislation go ahead, independent garages will no longer have unmonitored access to the OBD connector; it could be controlled entirely by the VM through remote diagnostics performed with the use of their servers. Wendy warned, “The OBD port on the new Fiat 500 has been closed off and the next generation of Golfs and BMWs are going the same way.” The aftermarket has had its work cut out in Brussels to protect the OBD port and ensure repair information remains available and in an electronic format, see page 4 for news of the latest victory.

Wendy reiterated the ongoing struggle the aftermarket faces with reference to the ‘Connected Car’, warning, “The VMs have a vision that all access to the vehicle will be through their servers, using their tools and, I guess the logical conclusion eventually will be, using their parts – threatening the livelihood of the independent aftermarket, as we could lose all unmonitored access to the vehicle, receiving the information in a format and timeframe which is down to them. We could be left in a world where the VMs know what we do, to which vehicle, when and even where”.

This would restrict consumer choice as to where a motorist can professionally get their vehicle maintained and repaired, an issue the IAAF has challenged for some time now with its Right2Choose campaign. This aims to educate motorists of their right to choose either a franchised dealer, autocentre or independent workshop to undertake repair and maintenance work with a vehicle under warranty. Providing parts and fluids of Original Equipment quality have been used in accordance with the manufacturer’s service schedule, a warranty will not be invalidated – how many of your customers know this?

“As an industry, we will continue to face many challenges on different fronts, and we will encounter more complex threats. However, we are prepared, and the future is bright despite the challenges we face. What we do know is that IAAF will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of its members to secure that future.”

Wendy Williamson, IAAF Chief Executive



About Autotechnician
Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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