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Tackling The Right to Repair Crisis at AAPEX 2023

Addressing legislative developments surrounding the right to repair crisis.

Episode 293: Interested in learning more about Right to Repair? Join us for a candid conversation with Ann Wilson, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at MEMA, straight from AAPEX 2023. Ann brings us up to speed on the legislative developments and the remaining obstacles we need to overcome to ensure fair access to repair and maintenance data for the trucking industry. She paints a vivid picture of the crossroads we are at, and the potential impact of proposed legislation that can grant us the right to repair our heavy-duty vehicles. 
 
However, it’s a rough road, Ann discusses the significant pushback from vehicle manufacturers and truck dealers. She encourages everyone in the industry to lend their voice to the cause and support the Right to Repair for heavy-duty trucks. Finally, we delve into the vital role of the independent aftermarket sector in maintaining the flow of our economy and why the Right to Repair is a matter of concern for everyone.

Addressing legislative developments surrounding the right to repair crisis.

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Transcript of Episode 

Jamie Irvine:

I’m in Las Vegas at AAPEX 2023. It is so good to be back here at this show. This is a show where manufacturers from all over the world come to talk about automotive and heavy-duty parts. We’re going to be interviewing some of the exhibitors, and we’re going to be showing you the sites at AAPEX 2023. So I hope you enjoy not only the interviews, but also getting to see what this show is all about.

We’re here at AAPEX ’23 in Las Vegas, and I’m excited to give you an update with our guests today on how things are going with Right to Repair. It is a ongoing challenge for heavy-duty especially. It impacts us in very specific ways, and I’m looking forward to talking to Ann Wilson, who is the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at MEMA. Anne is a returning guest on The Heavy Duty Parts Report, but this time we get to do it in person. Ann, welcome back to the show. Nice to see you in person.

Ann Wilson:

Thank you – it’s great. And at AAPEX too.

Jamie Irvine:

It is great and to be surrounded by all of these people who care about the industry. It’s great.

Ann Wilson:

And this great sign.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, and speaking of this great sign, that’s what we’re here to talk about today, isn’t it? Right To Repair? You gave us some really great information in our previous conversation, but that was almost a year ago, maybe even a little more than that. And we’ll include links in the show notes so that you can go back and listen to that conversation. But today, I’d like an update from you if at all possible. What’s happening with Right To Repair? What do we need to know in heavy-duty?

Ann Wilson:

Yeah, we’re really at a crossroads. We have a piece of legislation introduced to the United States Congress and the United States House HR 9 0 6, and it actually provides the right to repair, so data access to consumers or their designees for repair and maintenance vehicles. And the important part is it includes light vehicles, so individual consumer vehicles, but it also includes heavy vehicles. And we have had a lot of luck in the house.

We had a really good hearing on it a couple of weeks ago, and there was a lot of good interchange between the members of the committee and witnesses. And we think we’re going to have what they call a markup on Thursday, which is where they consider the bill and take amendments.

So we have a lot of hurdles that we have to go through before it reaches the floor of the house representatives. But for your listeners and for your viewers, we need to really consider what this means for the heavy vehicle industry. Unfortunately, we have been getting a lot of pushback, a lot of opposition to including heavy trucks in any repair access bill.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay, so where is that pushback coming from?

Ann Wilson:

It’s coming from, believe it or not, the light vehicle manufacturers, which is sort of like, they’re kind of out of their lane of traffic. I would say. It is coming from the truck dealers, which are part of NADA, which is the Automobile Dealers Association. We have a lot of support from it, from independent truck dealers, from NATSO, the truck stop operators.

So there’s a lot of support. But we need your viewers who are in the United States to write their senators and tell them it is important to one, introduce a piece of legislation on repair access, and secondly, include heavy trucks. And I would also encourage them to download if they haven’t seen it, this QR code. This gives you access to the newest information and the newest grassroots messages.

What we need right now, because let’s face it, we’re going to get a lot of opposition to this bill and it’s very organized opposition, but we’ve got to make sure that everybody understands if you got it, it came on a truck. And we need all those trucks operable for the US economy. We need it for the trucking industry. And one way to make sure that happens is to pass repair access that includes heavy vehicles.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, and that’s just it. If the OEMs were completely vertically integrated and they were the only ones to serve the trucking industry, our whole economy and all of the movement of goods would grind to a halt, they would never be able to handle all of that. The aftermarket side, the independent side, is critical to the success of the trucking industry, providing us with what we need. As to your point, if you like it, it came on a truck.

Ann Wilson:

And we’ve got members as suppliers and manufacturers who do updates for trucking fleets all the time. And if they can’t have that continued access, you say you have to go through a dealership or you have to go back to the vehicle manufacturer to get those updates. Anytime that you’re out, the truck’s out of service, that is delaying freight. That’s right. We’ve seen that at the Texas Mexico border. We see this all the time in weather. We do not need to make that situation worse by not providing repair access.

Jamie Irvine:

And all you need to do is think back to when the supply chain collapsed during covid. To see the implications on our economy on our day-to-day lives like this is a significant challenge.

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Now, how important is it for each person listening? If you’re from the US, and you work in the industry, how important is it for each one of them to take the step of submitting their information and getting their voice heard?

Ann Wilson:

Years ago, decades ago, I was on a whole different issue meeting with a very powerful member of the house representatives, and we provided that member with a list of our members in the trade association in his congressional district, and we had a good meeting. We talked about the issue, we left, and apparently right after that, he looked at his staff and said, how come I did not know this? How come I did not know how many members of this industry were in my district? His constituents, they’re his voters.

So you need to think of yourself as part of the industry, but think of yourself as part of a congressional district, part of a state. You are those voters. You need to help educate your electric elected representatives on what’s important, and then you need to push them diplomatically, but push them to support having repair access and having heavy trucks in there.

Jamie Irvine:

Well, and the other part of it, in my opinion too, is that when you think about this organized opposition to Right to Repair, they’re putting forward very well-articulated arguments as to why it should go and it’s very well-funded, but that doesn’t give them the whole picture.

And so when we add our voice, then we’re giving added context to the entire picture, and we’re helping our elected officials actually represent us and make the best possible decision for us. So it’s critical.

Ann Wilson:

Yes if they only hear from dealers, they’re going to assume that that’s the only side of the story. So they need to hear from both sides and they need to hear from you.

We can help you with this. The QR code can help you with this, but get the job done. They want to hear from you. It’ll be a respectful conversation, a respectful interchange, and you are really instrumental in helping us get this legislation over the finish line and passed.

Jamie Irvine:

So Ann, last time we talked, we were also talking about the John Deere MOU.

Ann Wilson:

We also think that legislation is necessary. So if when we look at what John Deere did, the owners of Deere tractors have had a hard time for a long time in getting their tractors repaired. They have had to bring the tractors back to the stores, back to the dealerships. And as we can all imagine, that is very difficult.

This is part and parcel of this whole repair access issue. Overall, I think this is an opportunity to have these conversations and to see if there’s a way to bridge this and to say, look, it is in all of our best interest. There’s only so many service bays you have. So don’t you want a satisfied second or third owner of those vehicles so that you make sure they’re on the road?

Jamie Irvine:

Can you give us an update on the impact it had one way or the other?

Ann Wilson:

Well, it’s interesting because some of the members of Congress, particularly a couple members in the Senate who were very, very worried about their farmers have really kind of backed off the issue. So we’re going to have to go back to them, and we have been trying to talk to them about, it’s not just the tractor that might be in the field, it’s also the trucks that are in the driveway, in their back, in their backyard, et cetera, in their barn.

So we need to go back and do that overall. We haven’t heard a lot of response to how it’s working for the agriculture community, but it hasn’t helped us at all. The same issues apply.

We need to make sure that we have enforcement. We need to make sure that it works for everything, and we need to also make sure that it works in the future. Because one of the things about technology as we are seeing it is it’s not static. It’s not just what’s on vehicles right now. We need to make this for five years from now and 10 years from now, and create a system that does that. The John Deere MOU just does not do the trick.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. So can you give us a little bit of an overview of just how MEMA is operating? We’ve talked about your role as government affairs, but just for those who maybe aren’t familiar, just give us a little overview because you’re working on these particular issues, but how does MEMA support independent and aftermarket as a whole?

Ann Wilson:

Yeah. We have reorganized this year just like many of our members have, and we have two divisions now. We have MEMA Original Equipment and MEMA Aftermarket. The heavy vehicle suppliers are represented in both. So we have Collin Shaw who is working in both our Original Equipment division and our Aftermarket division.

We are able to use the resources we have and the contacts we have, whether it’s with the White House, whether it’s with Capitol Hill, whether it’s with the States, and able to use them for all of our membership because one of the things we keep trying to remind people, our suppliers are the largest employer of manufacturing jobs in the United States, and that includes all of our suppliers, not just our OE suppliers, but our aftermarket suppliers.

Jamie Irvine:

Fantastic. If people would like to learn more, they should go to mema.org.

Ann Wilson:

Absolutely, MEMA the Vehicle Supplier Association.

Jamie Irvine:

My name is Jamie Irvine. I’m the host of The Heavy Duty Parts Report. Today we’ve been talking with Ann Wilson, I got to get this exactly right, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at MEMA. If you’d like to learn more about their organization, go to mema.org and also get your voice heard. Use this QR code, submit your thoughts on the right to repair issues, and thank you so much.

Ann Wilson:

Thanks Jamie.

Jamie Irvine:

Nice to see you in person and great to be here with you.

Ann Wilson:

Absolutely. Thanks everyone.

Jamie Irvine:

It was great to speak to exhibitors and people who are genuinely interested in protecting things like right to repair and making sure that our industry remains strong. Looking forward to sharing all of the conversations with you.

Tune in to heavydutypartsreport.com to follow the show for free. Or you can go on YouTube or wherever you get your podcast and you’ll be able to see all of the great conversations we’ve had here at AAPEX ’23. Can’t wait to be back next year.

  

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