By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association (MERA) is stepping up efforts to create OEM integration solutions through open discussions with Detroit engineers.
MERA said two of its members recently met with General Motors engineers to discuss OEM integration and to generally open up communications between the aftermarket and Detroit.
MERA director Rick Mathies said the organization hoped to determine if Detroit was deliberately trying to thwart the aftermarket. “If they knew what they were doing was locking out the aftermarket, if they cared, what their motivations were, and what might change their mind,” he said.
The MERA delegates, Harvey Wright, president, and Vicky Scrivner, immediate past president, met with a group of GM electrical engineering managers at the Warren, Mich., Vehicle Engineering Center in September.
Engineers told them that designs were based on consumer demand, cost efficiency and federal regulations, rather than designing out the aftermarket, said Mathies. “If GM can save $1 to $2 a vehicle, that converts to millions,” he explained.
Also discussed was the Class 2 data bus, which is being phased out and soon to be replaced by GM's LAN systems. These will be faster, but likely to cause more interfacing issues for the aftermarket, said MERA. Coupled with GM's recent announcement that it will double, by 2006, the number of vehicles equipped with the OnStar system, a feature that is non-integration friendly, “the aftermarket industry is reminded that it is facing an uphill battle,” MERA said in a prepared statement.
No future meetings are planned with GM at this time because, “We felt this was a brick wall. It's nice to have people we can talk to, but I don't think we're going to change their minds,” Mathies concluded. However, MERA will try to hold similar meetings with other car manufacturers, he said.
MERA said it is continuing to develop its “Your Ride Your Way” campaign, designed to educate consumers about their right to enhance their cars. Posters, counter cards and other information should be available to retailers by Christmas. Retailers will also receive press releases that they may send to local media and, possibly, a petition consumers can sign, MERA added.
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