EGEA ALONG WITH 92 OTHER ASSOCIATIONS SIGN AN AMBITIOUS EUROPEAN INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY
EGEA, the European Garage Equipment Association, along with 92 other industrial associations, signed a program paper entitled "Joint Declaration for an ambitious EU industrial strategy" in Brussels last February.
“ Europe is the cradle of the manufacturing industry and has been at the forefront of industrial revolutions and technological innovations. The industry directly employs over 34 million people across all Member States, in supply chains comprising hundreds of thousands of SMEs and larger suppliers. It also indirectly accounts for millions of additional jobs in related sectors.
The European manufacturing industry has tremendous capacity for research and innovation, boasts a skilled workforce and has earned a global reputation for quality and sustainability. What it now needs is the swift and determined support of the European institutions and the Member States to create more jobs and growth in Europe”.
The first few lines of the declaration are quite revealing of the proactive tone and the request for legislative support made to the European Parliament. Signing this joint statement, EGEA confirms the need for strong policies to guarantee a future to Europe’s industrial production, 99% of which is made up by SMEs, the backbone of the continent’s economy and industry.
This initiative is of the utmost importance for the car repair industry, with AICA (Italian member of EGEA) representing Italian garage equipment manufacturers. The automotive sector, in fact, confirms itself as one of the pillars of Europe’s manufacturing industry which, more than any other, is able to combine quality, sustainability and competitiveness as Italian and European automotive manufacturers have often demonstrated.
Overall market figures show a 3.5% drop in business turnover between 2000 and 2014, largely due to the recent economic crisis, with a loss of more than 3 million jobs between 2008 and 2014. The natural recovery, however, is hindered by external factors from which the global market, as a whole, can no longer afford to be affected: the "Make in India" or "Made in China 2025" strategies are a clear example of this, and as both these industrial giants are aiming to become Global protagonists, it is no coincidence then, that the US is already trying to react with the famous, yet controversial, "America First".
Europe has the duty to keep pace and put its industry at the top of its political agenda. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has already identified Europe's re-industrialization as one of his priorities and confirmed the objective of increasing the sector's share of the total European GDP by 20% by 2020. Member States and the European Parliament clearly stated their full support for this "ambitious and coordinated European industrial strategy that will help safeguard the world leadership of European manufacturers and jobs in Europe".
Now, though, actions are needed: all the associations concerned invited the EU to commit itself to meeting the objectives and to implement an action plan to address the challenges that the industrial sectors will have to face.
GERMAN MANUFACTURERS ARE LOOKING TO “CLOSE” THE OBD INTERFACE. WHAT IS THE EU COMMISSION DOING?
The latest news have it that German manufacturers are going to "close" their OBD interface. At least this is what would actually happen if a project launched by the German automotive association VDA is accepted. This includes a cloud platform that groups, classifies, controls and distributes these data: also known as "Extended Vehicle".
Today, as we all know, the OBD interface is the means by which breakdowns are diagnosed and repaired. Well, BMW's Christoph Grote, at the recent VDA Technical Congress in Berlin, said "this access will be closed bit by bit". In practice, the idea is to "disable" the OBD interface when the vehicle is in motion, keeping it accessible only when the vehicle comes to a stand still. This way car repairers can continue to use the workshop interface.
"The OBD was designed to be used in repair shops. Third parties were never allowed to create a form of data-based economy to be accessed through this interface," explained Grote.
With the vehicle running, the data, divided into groups by type, will be made accessible through neutral servers that, according to VDA, will guarantee access, privacy and interoperability. No details have been provided on how all this will be implemented and the many doubts are therefore well-founded, especially because everything will be completely under the exclusive control of the automotive industry.
Besides the unrealistic position and the reasonable doubts about the real reasons behind the proposal, special attention will have to be paid towards access to technical data, a topic on which the European Commission has recently published the long-awaited report on Euro 5 / 6 regulations.
The availability of technical information, as we know, is a fundamental requirement for the entire car repair system if it is to properly function and guarantee a cleaner and safer mobility; this is the "logic" behind the Euro 5/6 regulation and this is the reason behind the recent survey conducted by the European Commission. Well, in short, the conclusion of the report is that much remains to be done. The positive aspect of this conclusions is that the Commission itself acknowledges and confirms the difficulties that independent operators are still facing. The Commission clearly emphasizes that the requirements of non-discriminatory access for all, whether authorized or not, are still far from being met, as well as the need for a greater standardization of telematic access.
However, there are still many objections, as highlighted by AFCAR’s comment, (AFCAR being the Alliance for the freedom of auto repair) of which EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association) is a member. Starting from the results of the Ricardo-AEA survey, funded by the European Commission itself, AFCAR underlines the incompleteness and delays in the process of publishing technical data, which is of the utmost importance for independent diagnostic equipment manufacturers. In addition, what catches one’s eye is the lack of a procedure of complaint, arbitration and, if necessary, sanctioning, meaning that failures to comply with the regulations will continue un-punished resulting in a failure of the entire Euro 5/6 project. What we really need, argues AFCAR, is that the EU Commission completes the current Euro 5/6 regulatory frame work with a precise definition of what is meant by indiscriminate, fair and equal access for both authorized and independent operators.
The importance of the matter is clear if we look at a few figures: we are talking about the maintenance of some 285 million motor vehicles of various types across the EU, supported by more than 500,000 companies employing about 3.5 million workers that have the responsibility to ensure the proper functioning of the above mentioned vehicles and guarantee adequate road safety to all citizens.
This is the time to act, just as the whole process of new vehicle type-approval is under review in Brussels. The Commission, in order to protect fair competition and citizen’s freedom of choice, may decide to impose rules that will make Euro 5/6 Regulations effective.
AICA’S POSITION ON VEHICLE DATA ACCESS
The debate on access to technical data, which has always been of the utmost importance for the car repair sector, takes on new meaning now with the advent of conected cars. The debate, previously confined to dedicated interfaces, has now extended to generalist platforms and the most diverse solutions, such as Extended Vehicle systems or Interoperable On-Board Platforms, currently been studied by the competent authorities.
In this context, AICA, the Italian Association of Auto Equipment Manufacturers, considered it appropriate to take a stand by informing the sector as well as the competent authorities about all the issues related to it and possible solutions.
According to the existing legal framework and established practice, independent operators can enjoy unrestricted access to vehicle repair and maintenance information (IRM), enabling vehicle owners to exercise their right to choose the workshop they prefer and the latter to have more alternatives in chosing data and diagnostics providers and spare parts suppliers. Direct access to all on-board electronic systems, which has been free for decades, is now at risk as car manufacturers are trying to limit this access by introducing new telematic technologies.
The European Commission has launched the C-ITS project to study a "interoperable, standardized, safe and open-access platform". The final report of the project shows three possible solutions: an interoperable on-board vehicle platform (OTP), an advanced direct interface (IVI) and an Extended Vehicle platform, this solution particularly favored by car manufacturers.
AICA believes it is necessary to emphasize that, in any case it is necessary to maintain an on-board standard connection for direct access to vehicle data.
Solutions such as the Extended Vehicle are not considered acceptable by AICA for a number of reasons. First, this would create a scenario where car repair operators would have to depend on the manufacturers to obtain the needed technical data for their work: car makers could thus exert a tight control, set barriers and introduce unjustified additional costs. Equally important is the potential safety issue that would arise by concentrating all data on one server, an aspect that would make the whole system extremely vulnerable to hacker attacks. Third, but absolutely relevant according to the EU's legislative history, is the limitation of freedom of choice for the citizen as a result of the thorough monitoring of the customer by the manufacturers.
According to AICA, the IVI (In-Vehicle Interface), is the only solution that would guarantee the development of independent and competitive solutions and services, including diagnostics, ensuring free choice for motorists. Furthermore, it appears to be more suited to the future access technologies needed to ensure proper vehicle inspection as well as the functionality of components and systems related to safety and drive assistance systems.
A standard physical connection must be maintained as a minimum solution to provide direct, complete, and open access to vehicle data, functions and resources to both independent operators and vehicle manufacturers or their official networks. This connection can and must be made possible through the adoption of the highest security standards and through certified interfaces to be used by professionally qualified personnel / entities.