Weekly Legislative Update September 28, 2020

Right to Repair Battle Brewing in Massachusetts

The Tire Industry Association is supporting a November ballot question in Massachusetts that would update the existing “right to repair” law expanding access to vehicle maintenance and repair data by independent repair shops and aftermarket parts retailers.

Passage of Ballot Question 1 “would give vehicle owners and independent repair shops access to real-time mechanical data from telematics, systems that collect and wirelessly transmit information such as crash notifications, remote diagnostics and navigation from the vehicle to a remote server,” Automotive News reported Sept. 19. 

Independent repairers and the parts aftermarket and want to maintain the level playing field won when Massachusetts passed the right to repair law in 2012, which later was expanded nationwide. The law mandated auto makers make available the same diagnostic and repair data available to independents that car companies provide their own car dealerships and certified repair facilities.

 

But with more than 90% of new cars transmitting real-time repair information wirelessly, “independent repair shops will soon have limited or no access,” according to a Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee fact sheet. “…Now big auto is using the next generation of wireless technology to get around the law and shut out independent repair shops. That’s not what we voted for.”

The current law exempted data transmitted wirelessly through telematic systems, Automotive News said, “while giving vehicle owners more choice and control over their data.” This also has raised concerns over consumer privacy, data ownership and usage rights.

“The right to repair law has been a long-fought battle, supported by a strong grassroots effort by the New England Tire & Automotive Association, that has helped keep independent repair shops competitive with franchise car dealerships service operations, especially as vehicle technology has become more sophisticated,” said TIA CEO Roy Littlefield. “The issue now appears to be one of maintaining that competitive position while regulating the ownership of vehicle data and usage rights, while protecting consumer privacy.”

Massachusetts Question 1, "Right to Repair Law" Vehicle Data Access Requirement Initiative (2020)

A "yes" vote supports requiring manufacturers that sell vehicles with telematics systems in Massachusetts to equip them with a standardized open data platform beginning with model year 2022 that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application.

A "no" vote opposes requiring vehicles beginning with model year 2022 to be equipped with a standardized open data platform that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application, thereby maintaining that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access mechanical and diagnostic data through a personal computer.

 

Question 1 (2020) would require manufacturers that sell motor vehicles equipped with telematics systems to install a standardized open data platform beginning with model year 2022. The initiative defines telematics systems as "any system in a motor vehicle that collects information generated by the operation of the vehicle and transmits such information, in this chapter referred to as 'telematics system data,' utilizing wireless communications to a remote receiving point where it is stored." Vehicle owners could then access telematics system data through a mobile device application and give consent for independent repair facilities to access that data and send commands to the system for repair, maintenance, and diagnostic testing.

Question 1 (2020) would also require that manufacture authorization for mechanical data through the open data platform by owners and independent repair facilities be standardized across all makes and models and administered by an independent party.

The Massachusetts Attorney General would also have to prepare notices that motor vehicle dealers present to prospective owners that explain the car's telematics systems and the requirements under the new law. Denial of access to mechanical data by a manufacturer would result in treble damages or $10,000 in compensation to the vehicle owner.

Facts Sheet

 

  • More than 90% of new cars transmit real-time repair information wirelessly, and independent repair shops will soon have limited or no access.
  • Vehicle manufacturers are increasingly restricting access to car information. This means car owners are steered toward more expensive dealer repair options. It’s your car -- shouldn’t it be your right to access the information you need to repair it without having to pay high prices at the dealer
  • Massachusetts voters voted 86% in 2012 to require car companies to make available repair information and diagnostics. But now big auto is using the next generation of wireless technology to get around the law and shut out independent repair shops. That’s not what we voted for
  • Beacon Hill needs to update the law to protect the right of car owners to shop around for vehicle repair. Consumers deserve the right to take their car to any repair shop that they want. 

Key Provisions to the Ballot Initiative Give You Control

Commencing in model year 2022 and thereafter a manufacturer of motor vehicles sold in the Commonwealth, including heavy duty vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 14,000 pounds, that utilizes a telematics system shall be required to equip such vehicles with an inter-operable, standardized and open access platform across all of the manufacturer’s makes and models.

Such platform shall be capable of securely communicating all mechanical data emanating directly from the motor vehicle via direct data connection to the platform.

Such platform shall be directly accessible by the owner of the vehicle through a mobile-based application and, upon the authorization of the vehicle owner, all mechanical data shall be directly accessible by an independent repair facility or a class 1 dealer licensed pursuant to section 58 of chapter 140 limited to the time to complete the repair or for a period of time agreed to by the vehicle owner for the purposes of maintaining, diagnosing and repairing the motor vehicle.

Access shall include the ability to send commands to in-vehicle components if needed for purposes of maintenance, diagnostics and repair.

Such platform shall be directly accessible by the owner of the vehicle through a mobile-based application and, upon the authorization of the vehicle owner, all mechanical data shall be directly accessible by an independent repair facility or a class 1 dealer licensed pursuant to section 58 of chapter 140 limited to the time to complete the repair or for a period of time agreed to by the vehicle owner for the purposes of maintaining, diagnosing and repairing the motor vehicle.

Access shall include the ability to send commands to in-vehicle components if needed for purposes of maintenance, diagnostics and repair.

Vote for Right to Repair!

Right to Repair will be one of two questions before Massachusetts voters.

Remember, 86% of MA voted in favor of the Right To Repair Question in 2012, but by this year, 2020, advancements in vehicle technology and increasing restrictions by automakers will result in more than 90% of new cars being equipped to transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers, threatening the rights that we enjoy today to choose to get our car fixed at trusted independent repair shops or do the work ourselves.  

Without an update to this law our trusted independent repair shops will be unable to fix their loyal customers cars and thus consumers will have less choice and pay more for their car repairs. The spirit of the Right to Repair Law was to ensure a consumer’s right to get their car repaired where they choose - technology advancements should not impair that choice!

There are over 3,000+ independent repair shops and auto part stores in Massachusetts who rely on access to repair and diagnostic information to properly repair vehicles. It’s critical that this question passes at the ballot so that we can protect mostly importantly the rights of consumers, but also the 30,000 jobs in our independent repair and auto parts industry.

You may have seen ads on both sides of Question 1 as car manufacturers are using egregious scare tactics to continue to hold a monopoly on wireless repair information. Both cyber security experts and law enforcement concur that giving the owner of the car their own car repair information can be done safely and securely - This legislation and ballot initiative do NOT cover GPS or personal information!

We’re almost there! If you live in Massachusetts, come out (or mail in) and vote YES ON QUESTION 1 to protect your car repair choice this November! If you do not live in Massachusetts but have outlets in the state, let us know and we can help get information to those locations to share with their customers. 

House Passes Continuing Resolution

Last week, the House passed by a large margin the continuing resolution, H. R. 8337, “A Bill Making Continuing Appropriations, Fiscal Year 2021,” funding the government through December 11, 2020.

Democrats and Republicans came together to resolve differences over agriculture spending and child nutrition, and perhaps made other changes to the original bill approved by the Rules Committee.

The CR approved by the House is bi-partisan and is expected to pass the Senate at some point before the end of the month.

We will have more information in next week's newsletter on this resolution.