By ERWIN CHLANDA
Car makers and owners aren’t quite on the same wavelength – yet – about access to the data identifying mechanical problems of vehicles.
James Goodwin, of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), which represents in the interests of more than seven million motoring club members, says all motor mechanics can now have access to this “diagnostic” information.
But David McCarthy, who looks after public relations for Mercedes Benz, does not agree: “We create this intellectual property and we decide who we are sharing it with.
“We set the conditions, the fees and the circumstances for sharing what is our data. It is a normal commercial discussion.”
He says the car buyer “does not own the intellectual property of the vehicle. We do.”
Mr Goodwin says that is not in accordance with the spirit of the agreement reached last year under the watchful eye of the Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson.
For example, the deal means the information needs to be accessible to anyone who is a member of the AAA, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the Australian Automotive Dealer Association, the Australian Motor Industry Federation (motor traders) and the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (Repco, Supercheap, etc).
The bottom line is “consumer detriment” resulting from denial of access to the data, says Mr Goodwin.
“If we have examples of consumer detriment, then that is what the minister and the AAA want know about.”
He says at this point the right to the data is not extended to the car owner, but even he or she may be able to make a case for “detriment” – especial people in the Outback, using their vehicles a long way from a mechanical workshop.
The AANT’s Edon Bell has told the News he’s keeping a sharp eye on the discussion.
Mr McCarthy says: “It is clear that the issue is a complex and difficult one. At the end of the day we will always put our customer first.
“We work with organisations that can responsibly and maintain the integrity of diagnostic capability. This is an ongoing matter and we support the agreement reached last year.”
PHOTO: What does it mean when the lights don’t go out?
By ERWIN CHLANDA