RIGHT TO REPAIRS – Collision Repair Magazine

Several states have already taken their own action on the matter, with voters in Massachusetts passing a ballot measure expanding access to vehicle repair data. The results of the November 2020 referendum were overwhelming, with 75% voting in favor of this decision. The ballot required OEMs using a telematics system to create a self-service platform across all makes and models of manufacturers, available to all repairers in the state, beginning in the 2022 model year.

“This platform must be capable of securely communicating all mechanical data emanating directly from the motor vehicle via a direct data connection to the platform,” reads the addition to the Massachusetts law. “Access must include the ability to send commands to vehicle components as needed for maintenance, diagnostics and repair purposes.”

Shortly after the ballot passed, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) — which represents nearly all OEMs except Tesla — filed a new lawsuit, with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey claiming that the 2022 deadline was too soon.

“Because the Data Act takes effect on December 3, 2020, members are at imminent risk of enforcement against them – with penalties up to and including exclusion from the automotive market,” AAI wrote. in the trial. “Other parts of the law come into effect from the 2022 model year which, given industry timelines, is materially no different from right now, as 2022 model year sales can start as early as January 2, 2021.”

AAI also said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensing that “if enacted, the data law would require” vehicle manufacturers to redesign their vehicles in a way that necessarily introduces cybersecurity risks, and to do so in a timeframe that makes it impossible to design, demonstrate, and implement any meaningful countermeasures. And in doing so, NHTSA said, the data law creates a “direct conflict” with federal law.

In January, AAI revealed that two automakers – Kia and Subaru – had chosen to disable the telematics capabilities of its 2022 vehicles sold in Massachusetts. Rather than selling a vehicle that did not meet state telematics requirements, OEMs simply shut down all units, which include features like roadside assistance and crash notification.

A decision in the case is expected in April. There are also moves in US courts regarding the use of genuine versus aftermarket or recycled parts. While some OEMs have issued statements condemning the use of recycled or aftermarket parts, citing OEM quality control and repair standards, many industry players are pushing for stricter rules that allow the continued use of spare and recycled parts, when available.

In mid-March, more than a dozen people testified before Connecticut state legislators about their definitions of OEM, aftermarket, and recycled parts, as well as their perception of whether anything else that an OEM part could be considered “of like kind and quality”. This is the state proposed HB 5366 which would apply OEM procedures and OEM parts unless otherwise agreed by the customer.

Tom Tucker, senior director of state government relations for the AutoCare Association, opposed the proposed bill, saying consumers and the aftermarket industry would be negatively impacted.

Several others, including crash center owners, said crash parts should be approved for crash testing before they are even considered for repair use, noting that even some OEMs have failed crash tests on cars.

The bill also proposes a policy to prohibit any pressure from a bodybuilder or insurer to use a spare or recycled part from an older vehicle than the one being repaired.

The right to repair issue has been strongly advocated by industry organizations for years. Not only did the sector identify the problem and fight hard for a legislative solution, but it came up with viable and proven solutions. Only time will tell what the outcome will be.

Be that as it may, one point cannot be disputed: the movement requires the support of the automotive aftermarket. The people repairing the vehicles, responsible for restoring them to pre-crash condition, all to OEM standards. Victory will come with the support of the more than four million workers who make up the automotive aftermarket in the United States.

For more information, visit the website autocareadvocacy.org.