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The Automotive Industries Association (AIA) of Canada’s Key Messages to Federal Government Parties in Election Year 2019

Canada’s automotive aftermarket industry is an economic driver. The industry contributes $21.6 billion to the Canadian economy and employs 389,900 Canadians. The industry is facing disruption. Access to vehicle data and resources will become an operational and/ or competitive necessity for stakeholders along the entire aftermarket supply chain. The workforce faces a technician shortage and will need to recruit from outside of its traditional ranks to take advantage of new markets in digital vehicle products and services. These disruptions have the potential to hamstring the aftermarket industry.

As we approach the federal election scheduled for Monday, October 21, our messages on these disruptions to federal parties are:

Access to Vehicle Data and Resources

The automotive aftermarket is downstream to vehicle manufacturing; the introduction of change upstream, means change downstream. As vehicles are outfitted with digital communication platforms that support the transmission of vehicle data out of the vehicle (including information about the state of the vehicle) and transmission of data into the vehicle (including over-the-air updates), the entire automotive supply chain must have instant and direct access to these communication platforms.

The same standard of access across the entire automotive supply chain to communication platforms is a must.  It:

  • Ensures that stakeholders can take advantage of market opportunities in automotive digital-driven services and products.
  • Ensures that shops can communicate with the vehicle to access data needed for maintenance, repair and diagnostics and deliver digital and data driven services, like over-the-air updates. 
  • Ensures that all stakeholders can benefit from connectivity and data-based business models which use data as the primary decision-making tool for things like supply chain management. 

Currently, the abilty to communicate with vehicles is limited to automakers. Automakers equip vehicles with bi-directional communication technology, making them the owner of the communication platform.

Therefore, aftermarket businesses across Canada may not be able to participate in the digitalization of the automotive industry. This is not because they are not competitive or unable to “go digital”, but because vehicle manufacturers have positioned themselves as gatekeepers of data generated by the connected vehicle.

How can instant and direct access to vehicle communication platforms by multiple players be achieved? Through the Secure Vehicle Interface (SVI), a vehicle communication platform.  SVI is an interoperable, standardized and open access platform across all vehicle makes and models capable of securely communicating all wireless vehicle data in a standardized format via direct data connection to the platform and executing third party applications inside the vehicle. SVI is based on international standards from global standards organizations such as ISO, ETSI and IEEE. The aftermarket industry in the EU and US champion SVI.

Automakers argue that equal access risks security and damage to vehicle components. However, many automobile manufacturers already allow selected third parties, including Google and Microsoft, to operate their systems and applications in their vehicles. This demonstrates that safe and secure direct access for third parties to the vehicle communication platform is possible without interfering with the vehicle’s security and functions. 

The government is taking progressive action towards identifying and advancing elements of the soon to-be-decided regulatory framework that will manage connected and automated vehicles.

It is critical that AIA and the aftermarket industry continue to be represented in consultations that inform the regulatory framework as the aftermarket supply chain is a directly impacted stakeholder.

The regulatory framework must ensure instant and direct aftermarket access to vehicle data and resources (Secure Vehicle Interface is a solution).

Education and Workforce Development

Workforce disruptor: 

The skills and knowledge required of the workforce are changing as the automotive industry is transitioning from hardware to software-defined vehicles.

Increasingly, technical skills will be needed on the shop floor to care for vehicles equipped with advanced vehicle technology.

To take advantage of new markets in aftermarket digital products and services, the industry will need to attract individuals from different fields, including coding and data analytics.

Connectivity and data-based business models use data as the primary decision-making tool. They have the potential to transform workplace realities across the entire aftermarket supply chain. Examples of the uses for connectivity and data-based business models include:

  • the supply management of parts based on real-time inventory and demand;
  • providing services remotely that once had to be performed in-shop; and 
  • product improvement driven by real-time data collected and collated from a network of connected vehicles.

Workforce disruptor: 

A technician shortage

Factors supporting a technician shortage include:

  • Increasing retirement rates.
  • A general challenge attracting individuals to the skilled trades.

There are a number of approaches that can be deployed to address these workforce disruptions: 

  • Deploy an awareness campaign to update perceptions about the automotive skilled trades among critical stakeholders, including parents and students.
  • Deploy advanced vehicle technology upskilling initiatives that are industry-led.
  • Ensure federal financial supports and programs to equip the upstream automotive industry with the skills and knowledge needed to be competitive a changing automotive landscape, also consider the aftermarket as a priority beneficiary.
  • Ensure the aftermarket has direct and instant access to vehicle data and resources to properly train the workforce and equip it with the tools they need to operate and be competitive in a changing automotive industry landscape.