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Block exemption rule on independent's access to information echoed in voluntary US deal

In September last year, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance) and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) agreed with the Automotive Service Association (ASA) to provide independent repairer access to service information and diagnostic tools. It's now a done deal, all three bodies report, without recourse to legislation.

Under the agreement, automakers committed to providing independent repair shops with the same service and training information related to vehicle repair as is available to franchised dealerships by August 31, 2003. The three associations are pleased to report that the terms of the agreement have been satisfied.

"Alliance member companies recognize how important this information is to independent repairers," said Josephine S. Cooper, Alliance President and CEO. "Access to this information will guarantee that independent repairers have the same repair capabilities as dealer operated repair facilities and will benefit consumers, repairers and manufacturers."

In accordance with the agreement, all manufacturers have launched service information websites that provide factory service information dating back to the 1996 model year. Factory diagnostic tools (the identical tools used by dealerships) are now available from every manufacturer and factory-training materials are available either online or via an 800 number. In addition, automakers are working with the Equipment and Tool Institute (ETI) to provide information so that third-party tool manufacturers can develop diagnostic tools that contain the same features as the factory diagnostic tools.

Tim MacCarthy, President and CEO of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, added that "manufacturers are to be congratulated for establishing a workable, on-going process where repair technicians can easily obtain the thousands of pages of new technical and repair information generated each year as cars and trucks are introduced in the marketplace." "Our next challenge is to ensure that independent technicians are both aware of this information and motivated to use it to provide the best possible service to our mutual customers."

ASA President Ron Pyle said the agreement is working "exceptionally well" and complete service information is available to independent repair professionals. Rather than pursuing legislation to coerce manufacturers to share technical information, Pyle said the amicable agreement puts information in the hands of repair professionals today.

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