The Fight for Your Right to Repair: A Conversation with Auto Care’s Bill Hanvey

Friday, November 18, 2022

AAPEX Live 2022 Coverage

The automotive aftermarket may have won a solid victory when the Massachusetts ballot initiative was passed in 2020 with a 75%-25% margin, but the war is far from over. New technology and cyber security requirements are drawing new borders that the automotive aftermarket is fighting to claim for the consumer’s choice with increasing aggressive Right to Repair advocacy. At AAPEX 2022, Bill Hanvey, president and CEO, Auto Care Association, took the time to talk about aftermarket trends, what’s ahead in the Right to Repair battle and the big win that was AAPEX 2022.

AAPEX Live: We are standing in the second floor lobby just outside of the AAPEX floor doors, with all the bustle around us, what’s your take on the show this year?

Hanvey: From all the feedback that I’ve gotten so far, it has been the best energy they’ve ever seen. The exhibits are clean, fresh and concise. The buyers are engaged, the content has been really good and on point. And it just seems to me everybody [is] just, it’s almost like there’s a huge sigh of relief to say, “not only are we back, but what we’re glad to be back.”

AAPEX: Speaking of booths, lots of EV representation here at the show, and the Auto Care Association, along with the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), released your 2022 Joint EV Trends and Outlook Forecast. Do you feel like the aftermarket perspective on EVs is shifting?

Hanvey: I absolutely think so. The thing about our industry is that we’ve adapted from day one, and as long as we are able to access the data and have the right tools to be able to do the job, then our industry not only adapts to the technology, we embrace the technology, we improve the technology and we offer the consumer a better choice. I think people who are here at AAPEX are in tune with that in terms of opportunities. EV is a part of our future.

AAPEX Live: You talked about the importance of data security and privacy, and IP protection in your opening reception remarks – what’s important about data for the aftermarket to understand? Data can be very technical and dry, but what’s the takeaway everyone should have?

Hanvey: Data isn’t a technical tactic – it’s a scare tactic. It’s a scare tactic that’s being used by the car makers to plant the seed in the consumer’s mind that if you let an independent garage access your vehicle’s data, then somehow that’s going to be compromised, which could not be further from the truth. We have a technical solution based on internationally recognized standards that enables the secure access of data from the vehicle. Our technicians have been accessing data along with the technicians at the dealerships through the OBDII port for decades. It’s a pointless scare tactic; our industry values cybersecurity above everything.

AAPEX Live: So this is a new roadblock that car makers are hiding behind to complicate Right to Repair in your view?

Hanvey: Most certainly. Not only does it put fear in the consumer’s mind, but in legislators’ minds, in the judge’s mind in Massachusetts, and it’s completely unfounded. We want to make sure that the industry knows and the consumer knows that cybersecurity is our first priority.

AAPEX Live: What’s the next step in Right to Repair?

Hanvey: The next step is for the judge to finally make a decision in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s office is defending us in the case because the law was passed in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. We have been providing them with technical assistance and data as they see fit. The judge has been very consistent in terms of asking for more data in order for him to be able to make this decision. So we are expecting a positive outcome to come out in Massachusetts, but we’re going to continually keep the pressure on, which is why we’re initiating a ballot measure in Maine that will be on the ballot in 2023.

We also initiated the REPAIRct federally in Congress, which we’re going to have to restart after the next Congress is seated. But we’re very confident that both on the federal side and at the state level we’re just going to continue to put the pressure on the car makers until we are able to get what the consumers need.

AAPEX Live: How do you see a new Congress impacting aftermarket advocacy efforts going forward?

Hanvey: Right to Repair is a consumer right. It is the ability to repair your vehicle at a place that you choose. In most cases, the national average is about a 30% price differential. So you cannot deny the consumers that right to be able to choose; not only from an economic standpoint, but from a logistical standpoint that the car dealers don’t even account for 25% of the available bays.

That’s why our message is very consistent regardless of whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.

AAPEX Live: What’s on the docket for the Auto Care Association going into 2023?

Hanvey: An increased focus on member engagement. We need to activate the 4.5 million members of our Auto Care community. We need to engage our members – we value them tremendously. They make a significant investment, and we need to ensure that our members are utilizing every single resource that our staff works on and provides back to the marketplace to make our members more efficient. That’s going to be our main focus in 2023, along with the utilization of data.