Schnepper: We’ve Got Your Back

When I think about the value that belonging to an association like ASA provides me as a business owner, one of the most important things that comes to mind is representing the interests of our members in legislative offices from Washington, D.C., to state capitals.

Some of the proposed legislation being discussed these days is focusing on issues surrounding vehicle technology. The decisions our lawmakers arrive at has the potential to shape the automotive service and repair industry for years to come, affecting everyone involved in the business of maintaining our nation’s vehicle fleet for consumers and those emerging businesses that will provide new transportation models built around autonomous vehicles. Either way, it’s going to involve having access to information

On April 19, Dan Risley, ASA president and executive director, and I met with key leaders in Washington to discuss automated vehicle policy and data access. During those Capitol Hill meetings, we outlined the importance of data access to independent automotive repairers. Many of you will remember the efforts of ASA back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when electronic engine controls were first gaining wide acceptance by vehicle manufacturers. The potential for reducing emissions and increasing fuel economy were compelling, but it came with a catch. To service these increasingly sophisticated computer control systems, we needed specialized tools and equipment.

In fact, the industry worked with the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop a common diagnostic connection so that both OEM and aftermarket diagnostic tools could talk to the vehicles. But simply being able to retrieve data wasn’t enough if the information necessary to read and interpret that data wasn’t available to independent repair shops.

Back then, our collective voice raised these issues and made an impact on those responsible for setting policy. In response, Congress passed legislation to make sure we had access to the same emission system data that the OEMs provided to their dealers. In many ways, a similar situation exists today with the development of advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicle technology

ASA is the only national association representing repairer’s interests in Washington, and we take that responsibility very seriously. On that trip I mentioned, we also met with officials at the U.S. Department of Transportation to share your thoughts about the importance of continued access to vehicle repair information.

Automated vehicle policy will affect the entire automotive industry, not just OEs and consumers. These issues are complicated and nuanced, and we were encouraged to hear that our leaders in Washington are taking this seriously as well. If passed, the Inhofe amendment in the AV bill would allow more time for the industry to provide additional insights to Congress and the administration.

But one way or another, ASA will continue to have your back and ensure that, whatever comes down the road, our industry will be ready, willing and able to service and repair it as quickly and efficiently as we always have.