Ron Pyle, president and chief staff executive of the Automotive Service Association (ASA), presented testimony as part of an opposition panel. The panel also included Matt Godlewski, vice president of state affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Pyle began by outlining the history of service information and how the relationship between independent repairers and automobile manufacturers has progressed since the 2002 ASA-Automaker voluntary agreement. He also recognized the fifth anniversary of this agreement, which is being celebrated this year in Washington, D.C., by ASA’s leadership and top federal policymakers.
Pyle also explained the role of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), an inclusive, voluntary organization that involves all segments of the automotive industry. NASTF meets twice a year with committees specializing in problem-solving, working on issues such as anti-theft systems, service information, training, communication and tool information. He noted that, in 2006, NASTF received only 38 complaints out of the approximately 500 million repairs handled by independent automotive repairers each year.
Additionally, testimony included discussion of the Secure Data Release Model (SDRM), a final component that will address security information. NASTF is currently reviewing this model with representatives of repairers, locksmiths, automakers, law enforcement and others who are involved. The SDRM will assist in completing the last general area of service information, as far as a process for information dissemination.
Pyle explained, “ASA believes we have an agreement with the automakers that is working in today’s highly technical marketplace. The NASTF is an industry process allowing us to work together in an environment of problem solving versus regulation and litigation. We do not need the state government or the courts to intervene in the service information issue.”
Pyle concluded his testimony by urging the Oklahoma legislature to join the six other states that have opposed similar bills this year.
According to Gary Wano, Jr., G. W. & Son Auto Body Shop, Oklahoma City, no other interested parties were notified about the hearing. Speaking for himself, he explained that “the bill needs some tweaking before passage. A lot about the bill is good, but not as it stands.
“The section about the consumer’s right to repair is an important issue but this bill would set up more layers of bureaucracy starting at the federal level. We Oklahomans would prefer to settle our problems without the intervention of federal government.”
Another aspect of the bill, sharing of information by the manufacturers, is basically a good idea. However, Wano continued, “Some of the techniques for repairing today’s technologically advanced vehicles require certification. Perhaps some information should be reserved for certified technicians – extra training leads to greater access to the OEM information.”
In conclusion, Wano expressed disappointment that interested parties and the Oklahoma Auto Body Association (OKABA) were not notified about the hearing. “We would certainly have embraced the opportunity to testify regarding the bill.”