ECJ’s decision upholds fair environment within the aftermarket

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recently ruled in favor of granting independent repair shops access to crucial car data, marking a significant decision in the ongoing debate surrounding the Right to Repair. Following the ECJ's decision, which ensures legal certainty across the EU, various representatives have asserted that it shall not only bind all vehicle manufacturers and independent market players but also foster a fair and competitive environment in the automotive aftermarket for consumer interests.

A dispute arose in 2022, when concerns were raised and an official complaint was filed with Germany’s Regional Court of Cologne. The complaint centered on certain aftermarket services requiring proper access to a vehicle’s data stream. Meanwhile, several car manufacturers impeded third-party access to vehicle data streams through the imposition of license fees. In turn, glass companies alleged that this practice increased costs unnecessarily, hindered fair competition in the aftermarket, restricted consumer choice, and could potentially result in increased consumer costs.

The case was later referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which earlier this month ruled that under Regulation (EU) 2018/858, vehicle manufacturers cannot impose extra conditions on independent operators' access to vehicle repair and maintenance information, including on-board diagnostic data, effectively voiding any restrictions beyond those outlined in the regulation. As a result, a wide range of independent repair shops expect unrestricted competition with car manufacturers' workshops while adhering to EU regulations.