ASA Confronts EVs, Counterfeit Parts and ADAS Issues
On Tuesday, leaders of the Automotive Service Association (ASA) held a virtual briefing to update media outlets and its members on several of the issues the organization plans to track and provide guidance on in the year ahead.
While industry concerns around data access and proceedings on the legal battle surrounding Right to Repair continue to loom large, the association has also honed in on emerging issues facing repair shops today including the rise of electric vehicles (EVs), the sale of counterfeit OEM parts and, issues stemming from modifications made to vehicles using ADAS, and will be collecting feedback on the topics.
Tom Piippo, AMAM, director of ASA’s Mechanical Operations Committee, Bob Redding, ASA’s Washington D.C. representative, and Ray Fisher, AMAM, ASA’s executive director all weighed in to offer insight and updates.
ASA’s Mechanical Operations Committee expressed concern for the burden of liability that will be placed on repair shops as modifications performed on vehicles equipped with ADAS become more and more popular.
“In my neck of the woods, there are a lot of guys with new pick-ups that they want to jack up with six-inch lifts and put oversized tires on so they can go off-roading,” says Piippo. "What does that modification do to ADAS? Is that camera going to be aligned? Is that adaptive cruise radar going to be in the right spot?”
Piippo noted that currently repairers who “re-engineer” outside of a manufacturer’s original specifications are ultimately responsible for all changes and the liabilities that come with them. In some cases the best method of protection may be to turn down work that could involve a modified vehicle.
“Whether it's replacing a mirror with a camera in it, or repairing other systems on a car as it pertains to ADAS, we need to know more about what’s involved and understand those systems, he says. “We don't have a surefire way to calibrate the system to the way it was originally designed and that makes it tough. There might be jobs, we'll have to turn away until we can get better documentation from the OE or a validating testing source for these modifications.”
The association will be working to educate repairers on that burden to keep drivers safe and repair shops in the know.
Counterfeit OEM Parts
Piippo also highlighted an issue that has become an increasing concern for repair shops—an uptick in counterfeit OEM parts being sold as the real deal.
Piippo noted the counterfeit parts have often been purchased from dealerships or online sellers with fully branded packaging that is likely to include features like instructions and part descriptions that can be found on OEM packaging. Typically repairers won't’ know the part is a counterfeit until they open the box.
“Everything might look right, but they’re knockoffs and the quality doesn’t stand up. The collision industry has been dealing with this for years, but we’re starting to see this on the mechanical side too.”
The association has been working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Automotive Anti-Counterfeiting Council to best guide repair shops on the issue and will host a webinar on the topic later this month.
With the latest announcements from the Biden administration regarding the future electrification of government fleets, General Motors’ plan to produce all electric vehicles by 2035 and new models planned from emerging automakers like Lucid and Rivian, Piippo noted that as the buzz around EVs has built, so has the association’s work to stay abreast of the issues that could stem from a transition to an electrified future.
“As more technology is forced on us, we need more tooling and more information to understand what comes next and how to prepare our members. We have more questions than answers at this point but we’ll be pursuing answers heavily this year.”
Redding also noted that new federal EV-related initiatives can be expected later this year and not all will require new legislation.
Additional proposals for funding for things like charging stations and investment in infrastructure, training, and more for electric vehicles are likely to be introduced later in the year, but resources like a loan program authorized by the Department of Energy back in 2009 could begin to be invested in infrastructure for EVs even sooner.
“Whether it's an executive order or the encouraging new purchases to be EVs, or a major overhaul using funds already available to various agencies, we're going to see dramatic electric vehicle incentives coming out of the box this year from the administration as well as the companies making the vehicles,” Redding said.
Though the topic of EVs has been a concern for many repair shops, Fisher assured members the association will be following the transition closely to help guide members through the shift.
“There’s a fine balance in addressing an issue like electrification because it’s easy to cause panic and fear on the topic, but by the same token, we can’t ignore it anymore. The numbers and statistics and data show EVs are on the rise and are projected to continue to grow in the market,” Fisher says. “it’ll be a matter of eating that elephant one bite at a time, but we’ll be there for our members every step of the way.”