The Tire Industry Association (TIA) held its first ever Right to Repair/EV Forum before the opening day of the 2023 SEMA Show.
“Right to Repair is the most critical problem in our industry today,” Dick Gust, CEO of TIA, told forum attendees, who represented independent tire dealerships, mass retailers and other tire outlets.
The association says its call to action on the Right to Repair issue is to get legislation passed.
“We need to get something passed if we want to get anything done,” continued Gust.
According to Roy Littlefield IV, TIA's vice president of government affairs, a federal coalition is needed, but will be tough to achieve.
“A federal coalition is what we need. If we can have a law (that covers) all 50 states, that is what we need to fix this,” said Littlefield.
Stopping the spread of misinformation about Right to Repair has been another concern for TIA.
Littlefield told attendees TIA believes car manufacturers have spent $89 million on efforts to fight Right to Repair through advertisements and other initiatives.
"This is David versus Goliath,” said Eric Snyder, senior director of federal government affairs for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, which is working with TIA.
“The (car) dealers are going after this with everything they have. This is hand-to-hand combat.”
"Each and every business" at the TIA Right to Repair/EV Forum "has a vested interest in this issue. We want people to have a choice.
“It's scary the way things are going,” he said, but added that the association's strength is in its numbers.
“Lawmakers listen when you are organized and have a consistent message,” he said.
Gust agreed that grassroots initiatives are the best way to lobby for Right to Repair.
TIA says its members can support the Right to Repair movement through a federal coalition; supporting states' efforts; grassroots lobbying; supporting TIA’s congressional efforts; staying informed; and documenting experienced problems when servicing vehicles.
EV and EV tire market
The conversation about Right to Repair segued into a discussion around electric vehicles (EVs) and EV tire repair.
Snyder said tire dealers "should not have to send (a vehicle) back to a car dealership to check an engine light.”
And with more EVs coming out, there is more data not being released to independent tire dealers.
TIA created its Electric Vehicle Advisory Council (EVAC) to focus on educating and training tire and auto dealers on the proper service techniques and procedures of EVs, establish potential safety protocols when working on them and deliver best practices for service and maintenance.
Mark Ferner, senior manager, of technical operations for Bridgestone Retail Operations, is chair of EVAC.
EVAC is the largest advisory council that TIA has, said Gust.
The goal of EVAC is to “put together a library of industry resources” for technicians can refer to when servicing EVs, according to Littlefield.
The council is currently working on documents that will provide information on how to properly lift EVs; safety with high-voltage systems; alignment; and servicing EV tires.
“You can still service EV tires,” said Ferner.
“One of the biggest benefits of the council is the variety of people in it. It helps us learn from each other.”
TIA said safety is always its goal, so it will continue putting out educational information on EVs.