Significant progress has been made over the last 12 months since the Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket were implemented to make the automotive aftermarket a fairer place to do business, says Right to Repair SA (R2RSA).
However, R2RSA CEO, Kate Elliott, says there is still a lot of progress to be made.
The final guidelines were published by the Competition Commission in December 2020 and implemented from July 1, 2021.
They require original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to adopt strategies and develop business models that, among other things, allow for independent service providers (ISPs) and historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs) to undertake service and maintenance while a vehicle is under warranty.
The guidelines also place responsibility on OEMs to disclose certain information to consumers, such as the price of any pre-included service plan, maintenance plan, extended warranty or scratch and dent product, to enable them to make informed choices about the required future maintenance of their vehicles.
Elliott said the guidelines aim to give consumers more choice, and R2RSA has seen some great strides in compliance from the OEMs.
“Special mention goes to Volkswagen SA which has really led the way by embracing the guidelines, both by offering the consumer more choice and supporting independent service providers with technical information so that they are able to properly service the VW vehicles that are brought to them,” she said.
Elliott said other brands to have made positive strides are Ford, Toyota, Volvo, Isuzu, Suzuki and Mercedes.
She said dealers have also embraced the guidelines and recognised the value of opening up their workshops to cater for a variety of brands.
Elliott said a Honda dealer, for example, is now no longer limited to only servicing Hondas and can, for instance, also service a Toyota or BMW.
“What’s most important is service excellence. Qualified mechanics with good workshops and access to technical information can service any vehicle.
“It is not necessary to specialise. This applies to dealers as much as it does to independent workshops,” she maintains.
Elliott added that excellent progress has also been made whenever complaints have been laid against OEMs which have not put their implementation practices in place quickly enough.
She confirmed there has not been any backlash against any of the complainants who have laid complaints against an OEM or dealer.
All complaints that have been resolved so far have been settled on an amicable basis, and complaints are being settled anywhere between a few days and a few months, she said.
Elliott said that going forward, R2RSA would like to see consumers feeling empowered to stand up for their rights.
“We would like to remind consumers that they have the power and the backing of the Competition Commission and organisations such as us.
“Consumers are also welcome to contact Right to Repair for assistance. The complaints procedure is clearly outlined on the Right to Repair's website. The process is quick, straight forward and free,” she said.
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