Europe's Car Repairers Call For Competition Rules Rewrite
Europe's car repair and spare parts industry is calling for a rewrite of EU competition rules, arguing they allow carmakers and franchise dealers to disadvantage independent operators.
The European Commission has recommended extending 2010's Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) for five years when it expires in 2023, with some supplementary guidelines.
In January, European Union members are due to discuss the future of the rule, which has become another front in a growing struggle for access to and control of car data, as the EU is already working on laws governing access to in-vehicle data.
Proponents of a rewrite say automakers restrict access to vehicle data, which can make repairs more expensive, while also dictating how repairs should be undertaken and with which parts.
"In the last 10 years things have changed dramatically, the rules of the game are no longer the same," said Alex Gelbcke, chief executive of spare parts provider Fource.
"The regulation deserves an in-depth refresh and if that does not happen we will all suffer," added Gelbcke, whose company covers the Benelux countries and France. Fource's parent company LKQ Corp has annual turnover in Europe of around 6 billion euros ($6.4 billion).
Sylvia Gotzen, CEO of the International Federation of Automotive Aftermarket Distributors, which is part of a broader alliance of repair shops and parts makers that employs 3.5 million people in Europe, also called for changes.
"Car manufacturers sit on that data like a chicken on eggs," she said, adding that this makes carmakers "masters and gate-keepers for the entire repair process".