As you may know, the ARA is an international trade association of automotive recyclers. The ARA services over 1,000 direct member recyclers, as well as approximately 3,500 additional recyclers through affiliated organizations. The ARA does not control or direct the actions of the independent businesses who may be members, but among other things, the ARA aims to further the automotive recycling industry through various services and programs to increase public awareness of the industry’s role in conserving the future through automotive recycling and to foster awareness of the industry’s value as a high quality, low cost alternative for the automotive consumer.
On February 10, 2015, the ARA initiated class action litigation, on behalf of recyclers nationwide, against Takata and numerous vehicle manufacturers related to the defective Takata airbags that have been subject to numerous recalls. The ARA recommended that its members stop selling the recalled airbags and initiated this litigation with the goal of enabling recyclers to recover fair parts value for the defective airbags. In conjunction with our serving as a class representative in the litigation involving the Takata airbags, when we learned that Hollander and Rebuilders Automotive Supply (RAS) had announced a buy-back program for airbag inflators subject to the American Honda Motor Company, Inc. (“Honda”) recall, we advised our members of such and further advised that we needed more information before we could comment further with respect to participation in the voluntary program. The ARA has since conducted an inquiry into the program’s scope and parameters and, based on that inquiry, it appears that the buyback program was initiated by Honda and is not subject to any Court supervision. The buy-back program appears to be offering recyclers a price for airbags materially lower than the fair parts value.
In addition to their vehicle dismantling and recycling processes, professional automotive recyclers provide consumers a choice when it comes to how their vehicles are repaired. Each day over a half a million recycled OEM parts, the very same parts designed by automakers to meet their fit, finish and durability standards, are sold by professional automotive recyclers to consumers who purchase these recycled OEM parts to address their motor vehicle repair needs. Auto manufacturers as well as automotive recyclers must have strong supply chain management procedures in place to correctly identify automotive parts for these repairs in today’s electronic marketplace and for tomorrow’s intelligent vehicles. Access to OEM part numbers and other identifying parts information is critical to supply chain management.
Our global partners agree with the need for automakers to provide vehicle parts data to industry stakeholders and understand that this data is critical due to the growing complexity of vehicles, increasing number of parts and more use of on-board electronics. To address this need, European Union regulations require vehicle manufacturers to ensure that independent operators have easy, restriction-free and standardized access to vehicle repair and maintenance information.
The following is the regulatory language from Article 6 Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 (Euro5/6) and Annex XIV to Regulation (EC) No 692/2008, as amended in June 2011 by Regulation (EU) No 566/2011:
“Information on all parts of the vehicle, with which the vehicle, as identified by the vehicle identification number (VIN) and any additional criteria such as wheelbase, engine output, trim level or options, is equipped by the vehicle manufacturer and which can be replaced by spare parts offered by the vehicle manufacturer or its authorised repairs or dealers or third parties by means of reference to original equipment (OE) parts number, shall be made available in a database easily accessible to independent operators. This database shall comprise the VIN, OE parts numbers, OE naming of the parts, validity attributes (valid-from and valid-to dates), fitting and where applicable structuring characteristics”.