FIGIEFA, the organisation that represents automotive aftermarket distributors has welcomed the recent extension of the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) for another five years and the updating of the Supplementary Guidelines (SGL) but has warned that some aspects of the extension require further clarification.
FIGIEFA says the extension is an important step in maintaining competition in the automotive aftermarket and has welcomed the update of some of the provisions on technical information to take into consideration technical progress, namely the inclusion of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and Battery Management Systems.
As connected and electric mobility is becoming increasingly important, such reference will help the independent aftermarket to service the latest vehicle models, according to the trade association.
Activation codes, which are increasingly needed for the installation of replacement parts, have been included as well into the scope of technical information.
FIGIEFA has also welcomed the recognition that vehicle-generated data is an “essential input” for the provision of competitive digital services. The new guidance, whereby a dominant supplier withholding vehicle-generated data (as one example of an essential input) from independent operators “may amount to an abuse under Article 102 of the Treaty” is an important signal that the European Commission provides.
However, complementary technical requirements under vehicle type-approval clarifying the specifications for such inputs remain necessary, in form of a sector-specific legislation on access to in-vehicle data, functions and resources, FIGIEFA says.
Moreover, FIGIEFA regrets that the European Commission did not bring additional clarifications to the provisions on the misuse of warranties. According to the European Commission’s own Evaluation Report, most of the infringement decisions adopted by National Competition Authorities (NCAs) concern abuses of warranties, and a considerable number of NCAs perceived the existing guidance in this field, as providing little legal certainty.
Sylvia Gotzen, FIGIEFA CEO, underlined: “The MVBER is and remains an essential piece in the legislative framework for competition in the automotive aftermarket.
“The changes introduced in the new SGL provide new means for independent operators to address hindrances to access inputs, such as vehicle generated data, technical information, tools and training, that are necessary to carry out repair and maintenance tasks and continue to develop innovative services.
“Regrettably, not all concerns expressed by FIGIEFA during the consultation phase have been heard. We remain confident however that the evidence gathered in the last years will serve to show to the European Commission, in the next 2-3 years when starting the discussions on the next MVBER revision, the necessity to make more comprehensive adaptations in light of market and technological developments.”
Through a dense network of over 30.000 companies, most of them SMEs, and 350,000 employees, European independent distributors of automotive spare parts deliver innovative and competitive solutions for safe, smart, sustainable and affordable road mobility all over Europe.
They are a key component of the wider European automotive aftermarket’s ecosystem, composed of 500.000 companies and 4,3 million employees maintaining in perfect condition the 320 million vehicles on European roads.