The Right to Repair Movement Gains Global Momentum
Tuesday, November 01, 2022
AAPEX Live 2022 Coverage
Right to Repair is a universal issue across multiple industries and is gaining global momentum. The success of the ballot initiative in Massachusetts is only the first step in the battle to ensure repair shops have access to diagnostic and repair data while consumers will direct who can access that data. While momentum is growing, we must not lose sight of the need for legislative action to remedy the problem across all 50 states.
In Australia, right to repair legislation became operational in July, compelling vehicle manufacturers to provide all service and repair information to independent repairers at a fair market price. This law promotes a fair and level playing field in the automotive service and repair industry, and ensures consumers have a choice of repairer.
In the European Union, a study on data access found that there would be significant consequences for competition if manufacturers did not share diagnostic data. The European Commission intends to take action to improve access to vehicle data. In October, the Joint Research Center published a technical report advocating for a level playing field in wireless transmitted data. Right to repair legislation was introduced to provide consumers with control and access to vehicle data. The EU is expected to pass the legislation in 2022.
The Massachusetts ballot initiative was passed in 2020 with a 75%-25% margin. The vehicle manufacturers immediately filed suit seeking an injunction based on federal preemption and cybersecurity concerns. The judge has yet to issue a ruling and has delayed the case multiple times. Whenever a final order is issued, we anticipate the side that loses will immediately appeal the case. However, in the last conference, the judge wanted the parties to come together and determine how to implement the law and develop a timeline on how long it will take to become operational.
A right to repair ballot initiative is underway in Maine, as members of the state’s Right to Repair Coalition, a group of independent repair shop owners and employees, filed an application for a citizens’ initiative with the Maine Secretary of State’s office. The Maine legislature will have an opportunity to review and pass a right to repair ordinance during the legislative session that begins in January 2023. If the legislature fails to act, the ballot measure will go before the voters in November 2023.
The Repair Act (Congress)
A joint effort between the Auto Care Association, Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), SEMA and Car Coalition, The REPAIR Act was introduced in Congress with both Republican and Democratic support in early 2022. The bill has 10 co-sponsors and ensures that vehicle owners and their repairers of choice have access to the necessary data, software, replacement components, training and diagnostic tools. The bill also tasks the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) with developing cybersecurity standards to allow for safe, secure repair access. Additionally, the legislation creates a committee overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to advise on implementation and identify emerging and future barriers to auto repair and maintenance. The FTC will continue to monitor emerging repair trends and technology to ensure continued market competition and consumer choice, creating a mechanism to review and adopt regulations to respond to changing technology. A new right to repair bill will be introduced when the new Congress is takes the oath of office in January 2023
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has reaffirmed its commitment to consumer choice. The commission released its Nix the Fix Report in May 2021 and cited barriers to repairs included physical restrictions, unavailability of parts, manuals and diagnostic software/tools. The report also cited how steering consumers to manufacturers’ repair networks using telematics systems was also a major obstacle. As a result, the FTC reaffirmed their commitment to right to repair in their strategic plan through 2026 and will focus on competition in the marketplace while tackling illegal repair restrictions. Consumers right to repair their products will be an agency priority.
The White House
President Joe Biden issued an executive order on right to repair directing federal agencies to take 72 specific actions focused on competition.
Momentum on the States
The results of every major opinion poll are clear. Citizens want consumer choice in the repair of their products. Furthermore, more than 60 pieces of legislation have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. Whether those products include cell phones, computer tablets, tractors, medical devices or automobiles, the right to repair has emerged as a fundamental right to citizens across the globe. Momentum is growing for legislative or regulatory bodies to act. Citizens are demanding immediate action and legislators are poised to act.
On the show floor at AAPEX
Be sure to visit the Right to Repair bay in Joe’s Garage (Bay 9, Level 1) to get more education on why Right to Repair is important, take 30 seconds to tell your legislator to support it, and see the technical solution to access vehicle repair and maintenance data at the point of the vehicle.
We have taken steps to raise the alarm about the future of repair and wireless transmitted data. We are poised to take major steps forward in the right to repair movement both at home and abroad. This campaign will not end until independent repair shops have the same access to telematics repair data as the franchised dealerships. The right to repair momentum will continue into the new year with a new Congress and into state legislative houses across the country. The momentum is building, and the stakes are higher than they have ever been. The future of repair and a thriving aftermarket is at stake. It’s time for you, your employees and companies to get into the fight. Our collective future is at stake.
To get involved in the right to repair movement, contact the government affairs team at either of your associations: autocare.org and aftermarketsuppliers.org.