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Massimo Brunamonti

EGEA’s six-monthly assembly and the appointment of a new Secretary General

EGEA, the European Garage Equipment Association, held its usual six-monthly meeting on October 10 in Brussels where, as usual, the quantity and importance of the activities presented was significant, as highlighted by President Dave Garratt.

First and foremost, and not only in order of presentation, the activity of the working group WG2 Diagnosis, illustrated by the Vice-Chairman Harald Neumann (ASA-Bosch). Many issues are still open, both in Brussels at the European Commission and in Geneva at UNECE and are putting pressure on the whole Association to the point that the Assembly considered it appropriate to convene a special strategic session in January 2020 to decide how to act in the face of the historic challenges that will affect the market in the coming years.

Other working groups have been intensely occupied over the past six months. Among these, the WG2 Emissions led by Georges Petelet (GIEG-Capelec) has been following developments surrounding particulate emission tests in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany; the WG6 chaired by Massimo Mambrilla (AICA-Space) has completed work on the EGEA standard for "Phase-Shift" suspension testers, which will be proposed to the competent authorities and MOT operators as a pan-European solution; In addition, the recently established WG11 on headlamp testing has already produced its first results, as illustrated by the group leader Imre Makra (ASA-Beissbarth), i.e. the guidelines for updating headlamp testing during MOT inspections as well as the international reference standards, also in this case to be proposed to the competent authorities.

AFCAR activities represent a vital commitment for the entire association, as illustrated by EGEA Technical Manager Neil Pattemore; EGEA confirms its dedication and collaborative spirit with its sister company FIGIEFA, though asking for better coordination and guidance at the same time.

However, the most significant moment of the Assembly revolved around talks of a new Secretary General. Following the termination of Eleonore Van Haute’s term, the Assembly decided to find a new Secretary General. The search was subsequently completed with excellent results: Jordi Brunet Garcia, former technical manager of VTEQ, Spanish company specialized in overhaul equipment, and already active collaborator of EGEA as group leader of WG6, was appointed as the new Secretary General. In addition to his long experience in the sector, Brunet has vast experience in dealing with national and European standards bodies and competent authorities; this, together with his experience, made Brunet the perfect choice.

AICA wishes Jordi all the best for his work ahead; our sector requires a constant commitment in coping with the dynamic changes taking place that are nerve-wracking on the one hand, but exciting and a source of great opportunities on the other. Last but not least, the acquisition of the French Equip'Auto trade-fair as a sponsor of EGEA is a new development. Equip'Auto, a long-standing trade event, joins Autopromotec and Automechanika as partners of EGEA.


The European Commission working group on free data access - The 2019 AFCAR Manifesto for Freedom in Car-Repair

The Commission's work on remote diagnostics under EU Regulation 2018/858 on vehicle type-approval has reached a climax. Between October and December, three meetings of the working group of the Directorate-General for the Internal Market and Industry are scheduled, in which the European elite in the field of automotive diagnostics and telematics will participate. The topic is always the same: access to vehicle data and information security, but linked to an increasingly complex scenario that involves connected vehicles.

Once again, different positions came to the fore among the various actors, as explicitly reported by the Commission itself: on the one hand, car manufacturers, represented by ACEA, pushing for the Extended Vehicle solution, and on the other hand, the entire car repair sector represented by EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association) as part of the AFCAR coalition, united and determined in demanding direct, safe and non-discriminatory access.

Discussions are still heated and in progress: as already announced, the Commission will take stock of the situation and on the basis of the results it will finance, at the beginning of the new year, an independent study to identify the solution, to be implemented already during the spring of 2020.

This is a decisive moment; the decisions will have consequences for the whole car repair world and not only, for years to come. This is why AFCAR, the Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair in Europe, has decided to publish the2019 Manifestoin favour of anopen and competitive data access for all in the car repair sector. AFCAR represents the entire industry including spare parts dealers, repairers, insurance companies, leasing companies, consumers and SMEs and stands united in favour of the right to choose in the age of connected cars.

The 2019 Manifesto addresses the need for an updated and modern approach to the digital economy in line with the ambitious plan to support European innovation, which requires adequate legislation to ensure competition in a modern economy.

A key aspect of the problem, the Manifesto states, is the need for direct, real-time access to vehicle data and their functions, and a specific legislation that allows both innovation and competition to the point of ensuring that the EU remains at the forefront of the connected and autonomous car race.

And this open and non-discriminatory access must be guaranteed to all, first and foremost to independent operators who, together with authorized dealers, contribute to the creation of a service network which is both competitive and widespread. What independent and non-independent car repairers are demanding is, access to vehicle data and functions to an extent that far exceeds what has been proposed so far. For example, remote diagnosis and scheduled maintenance are gaining popularity among garage specialists. Connected cars can be diagnosed wherever they are, not necessarily in the workshop. And remote diagnosis can also lead to scheduled (or predictive) maintenance: if I know the status of my battery or tires or brakes, I can plan to change them before a break down or to avoid running the risk of an accident, booking my trusted workshop according to my schedule through my smartphone.

This is the direction in which everyone is rapidly moving, setting up computer platforms capable of supporting it all. The problem is: who is allowed to access these platforms and how adequate these platforms are. The so-called "Extended Vehicle" for example, according to AFCAR is not a solution because, besides the inherent potential for discrimination, it is not suitable to support the whole diagnosis process and represents a huge investment against little benefits.

AFCAR, taking the OBD as an example, along with the regulations that have allowed the exercise of competitive car repair over the years, argues that alternative approaches would be more appropriate to solve the problem. One of them, the so-called OTP, an on-board inter-operational platform for standardised access, open and secure, could guarantee IT protection and privacy and, at the same time, access for all.

The European Parliament, notes AFCAR, has already issued two resolutions requiring the Commission to take legislative action to ensure honest, secure, and neutral access to vehicle data for any third party provider of automotive repair products and services. Unfortunately, though, the situation in which the market verses raises doubts as to whether such conditions can be met.


MOT inspections in Italy

Unexpectedly, on October 25, the National Motorization General Management, in the person of the Head of Division 4, Sergio Scavone, called a meeting to discuss matters pertaining to regular inspections of farming machines and building site equipment with the aim of creating a widespread network of inspection centres.

Unfortunately, not much came out of the meeting, apart from learning that Mr. Scavone, as he himself had previously announced, would have left the job at the end of October. Given the general unpreparedness on the subject, none of those present could provide the necessary information, except for rather general considerations relating to the need for a widespread presence and expertise for both farming vehicles and industrial machines, given their peculiarity.

Some, however, stressed that, as far as MOT inspections are concerned, especially in Italy, a 360 degree approach is needed given the many pending and still unresolved issues. See, for example, the lingering problems with new training courses and the privatization of commercial vehicle inspections, which are already provided for by law, but never started.

On commercial vehicles, the Administration organized a dedicated meeting last April 24, in which, besides the obvious assessment of the situation, indications on the expected time for the implementation of such laws was defined: Head of Department Dr. Elisa Grande, said she wanted to kick-start the proceedings as soon as possible. More than seven months later and despite the dictates of the law, there is no news of any initiative in this sense.

In conclusion, the general picture appears quite bleak: no activity recorded on inspections for commercial vehicle, and no news on agricultural vehicles either, whereas the current legal framework require a series of updates provided for by Ministerial Decree 214/2017 transposing the European Directive.

AICA, the Italian Association of Car Manufacturers, which has been urging the Administration in this regard for some time now, expressed its concern. The overall picture points to additional future inefficiencies besides those already existing: as far as commercial vehicles are concerned, inspection delays amount now, on average, to several months, including buses. Ministerial Decree 214/2017 clearly describes the operations to be carried out, and a failure to comply with such laws, puts the whole system “sub-iudice” from the point of view of its legitimacy and possible Community infringements.

A real shame since a great deal of work had already been done following the instructions of the previous MOT management, to the point that, a simple follow up would have been enough to have most of the solutions ready to be introduced. We are referring to the activities of the MOT test equipment working group, established by Executive Decree, with the precise aim of updating circulars 88/95 and 112/96. Over a period of almost four years, the technical tables had updated the specifications of the equipment either completing the operations or in some cases bringing them to a very advanced state. All of this, however, was unexpectedly interrupted at the end of 2017 as a new management was appointed. Nothing has happened since then; everything has been at a standstill for two years.

However, legal constraints and the implementation of the necessary adjustments leave no margins; it is absolutely necessary to go from words to actions, following up on the work previously completed or started and unblock it. The sector has enough international expertise and experience to support the Administration, providing the necessary knowledge to identify the most effective solutions. It would be enough to listen; the Administration will then be able to take the decisions it deems most appropriate.


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