In the letter, Schmatz cites the association’s pressure on Congress as the reason both the Right to Repair Act and the formalization of the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) continue to move forward.
"Let’s be brutally honest here. There is one reason that there is an eagerness by the vehicle manufacturers and the franchised dealers to formalize the National Automotive Service Task Force. There is one reason that the car companies and other opponents came to the table last summer to negotiate a non-legislative agreement," Schmatz writes in the letter.
"The reason is because AAIA and our partners have kept up the pressure on Congress, both on Capitol Hill and in their home districts," Schmatz continued. "Clearly, it’s the growing number of legislators that have signed on as co-sponsors (97 in total) and the threat of passage of legislation that got us where we are today. Without that threat, there would have been no negotiations, and certainly NASTF would never have been formed."
Schmatz went on to clarify AAIA’s position on and participation in NASTF, and said from outset AAIA clearly stated its participation in meetings to formalize NASTF would not preclude its support for passage of Right to Repair legislation and would be kept separate from lobbying activities on Capitol Hill.
"Unfortunately, our opponents chose to mischaracterize our position on Capitol Hill and we had no choice but to withdraw from participating in subsequent meetings," said Schmatz.
Schmatz added that AAIA does not believe formalizing NASTF will resolve the industry’s need to access information and tools. Instead, efforts and resources should focus on passing legislation or, if possible, negotiating a non-legislative agreement that has the teeth to protect AAIA members and the independent aftermarket, she said.
“We’re pleased that the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has been chosen to manage NASTF,” Schmatz writes. “Obviously, there needs to be a neutral governing body that oversees the availability of OE service information and tools and equipment. But if a group like NASTF is to be viable, there must first be a solid law or a non-legislative agreement that contains enforceable commitments from the manufacturers for making available the information and advanced tools needed to service today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles.”
Congress is currently on a two-week Easter break, however, Schmatz said AAIA will keep the pressure on in the legislators’ home districts to grow support of the legislation.
"We also will work to bring the manufacturers back to the table to discuss a fair and equitable non-legislative agreement," said Schmatz. "Absent such agreement, we will push for Congress to move the legislation as soon as possible.”