Australia’s car owners are paying $1 billion a year more than they need to because car makers are refusing to share technical information with independent mechanics, according to the competition watchdog.
The chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told a parliament inquiry on Wednesday the voluntary data-sharing system that car makers agreed to in 2014 is not working.
“We are convinced that some form of mandatory arrangement needs to be in place,” Rod Sims told the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Economics.
In 2014, car makers agreed to a voluntary scheme in which they would share more information, including computer codes, with independent auto repairers.
But Australia’s consumer watchdog later found that was not working.
In a December 2017 report, the ACCC found the reluctance of car makers to share technical information was unfair, and had the potential to push up the costs of repairs and servicing.
“The cars are getting more and more complicated, so the problem’s getting progressively worse,” Mr Sims told the committee on Wednesday.
Matt Sontrop, an independent mechanic from Queensland’s Bribie Island, said the lack of data sharing made his job more difficult.
“Ten years ago it would take you five minutes to turn out a service light. Now it could take an hour-and-a-half, two hours, three hours,” he said.
Car makers have been arguing the problem is exaggerated, and they have good reason for holding back some information.
“We cannot have a situation where people are tinkering with cars that are complex, because it puts the safety of motorists and other road users at risk,” head of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Tony Weber, told 7.30.
Mr Sims accepted there were some complex issues that needed to be worked through.
“That complexity is, when do you define information that they don’t have to share under a safety heading versus when they should,” he said.
“I understand people are giving further thought to that.
“Would we like it moving along faster? Yes, of course we would.”
Source: ABC.net News
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