AutoDistribution says it will sue automakers that refuse to provide it with technical data to carry out car repairs.

"We've been fighting for years to get access to carmakers' technical information and we're reaching the end of our tether," said Olivier Van Ruymbeke, CEO of AutoDistribution. The company is France's largest independent parts and servicing business.

"If it does not happen in the next two to three months, we shall go to court," said Van Ruymbeke.

In 2002 the EU ordered automakers to pass on technical information about their vehicles to independent garages as part of its new block exemption regime.

Manufacturers had fought to prevent the change because repairs are highly profitable for both automakers and their authorised workshops.

The European Commission is investigating whether Toyota, General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and Fiat have fully complied with repair data regulations.

Van Ruymbeke said automakers are still discriminating against distributors and repairers who do not belong to manufacturers' own dealer and aftersales networks.

The EU rules on sharing technical data require carmakers to make information available to independent repairers unless the information affects safety and anti-theft devices.

Van Ruymbeke said that exemption is used by carmakers to withhold a lot of information.

Repairers say access to carmakers' technical information is vital because of the growing electronics content in cars.

Without carmakers' diagnostic tools and technical information, it's nearly impossible to detect and fix electronics flaws, claim repairers.

Van Ruymbeke said that, in France, Autodistribution's main market, the main offenders were the local automakers Renault and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.

Frederic Saint-Geours, Peugeot managing director, disputed AutoDistribution's claims. "The block exemption rules are very clear, and we follow them," he said.

Automotive News Europe