Accessing technical information for motor vehicles: manufacturers must do better
European Commission - IP/04/1235 15/10/2004
Brussels,15 October 2004
Car manufacturers must make progress to allow independent repairers and other operators to get access to technical information on their vehicles, reveals a study carried out by the University of Aachen (IKA) and published on the website of the European Commission’s Competition Directorate-General. The 2002 Commission Regulation on the motor vehicle sector stipulates that access to this information must be given “in a non-discriminatory, prompt and proportionate way” in order to encourage competition in car repair. The Commission invites interested parties to submit to it any comments or observations by 31 December.
Competition Commissioner Mario Monti commented, “Although car manufacturers are making technical information available to independent operators, we are still falling way short of the mark. If competition in car repair is to develop, manufacturers must really step up their efforts to make things more transparent and accessible”. He added, “With everything being done electronically nowadays, access to technical information is increasingly at the heart of competition. I have fought for this key element of the motor vehicle Regulation and am sure the next Commission will do everything necessary to ensure that manufacturers abide fully by these rules".
Commission Regulation 1400/2002 came into force in October 2002. It is designed to increase competition in motor vehicle distribution and repair; competition in repair is vitally important, given that the costs of maintaining and repairing a car over its lifetime account on average for 40% of the total cost of ownership (see IP/02/1073).
The study, which IKA carried out at the Commission's request, looks at how manufacturers have complied with the Regulation in terms of providing technical information to garages, tool manufacturers and publishers. All these types of operator have an important role to play in ensuring healthy competition in car repair, particularly as advances in technology are making even the most basic repairs increasingly complex.
The study shows that technical information for almost all models launched within the last ten years is available, either via the Internet, on CD/DVD and/or on paper.
The quality of information provision is, however, often quite unsatisfactory as the information is difficult to find or may only be available in large, costly packages. The content is also often insufficient, with some manufacturers holding back a great deal of information that is vital, for example, to diagnostic-tool manufacturers. These firms have a specific role to play, as they alone are likely to provide a viable lower-cost alternative to the expensive diagnostic tools offered by car manufacturers. Lastly, publishers of technical information, whose products are greatly valued by independent repairers, have trouble obtaining the information they need.
The study covers nine motor vehicle manufacturers (BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford, GM, PSA, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen) and the truck manufacturers (DAF, DaimlerChrysler, Iveco, MAN, Renault trucks and Volvo). It examines the position in Germany, Italy, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, and Poland.
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