Critics Call Right to Repair Agreement ‘Thinly Veiled Attempt to Confuse Lawmakers and Drivers’
Published July 11, 2023
The Auto Care Association (ACA) and the CAR Coalition on July 11 both objected to the right to repair pact, announced the same day, between the Automotive Service Association (ASA), the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI).
The pact is meant to affirm a 2014 national Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on automotive right to repair, stating unequivocally that “independent repair facilities shall have access to the same diagnostic and repair information that auto manufacturers make available to authorized dealer networks.”
ACA, an original signatory to the 2014 MOU, said it was not consulted about, was not a party to and does not support the new pact. ACA said ASA and SCRS, who did not sign or support the 2014 MOU, represent a small fraction of the independent repair market and do not speak for the automotive aftermarket.
"The agreement between the AAI, ASA and SCRS is a thinly veiled response by the automotive OEMs to HR 906: the REPAIR Act," ACA said. "While the agreement purports to be relevant, all it does is affirm the 2014 MOU rather than implement a meaningful solution to preserve the entire automotive aftermarket and the competition and consumer choice that it creates."
The CAR Coalition also questioned the impetus behind the pact and reiterated its support for the SMART and REPAIR acts.
On July 18, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet is scheduled to hear "Is There a Right to Repair" in reference to the REPAIR Act.
ACA said the agreement is not only designed to create confusion, but also has numerous flaws:
- The agreement is non-binding. There is no way to force OEM participation or to enforce OEM compliance.
- The agreement does not cover all automakers (e.g. Tesla) and there is no requirement for new OEMs to join.
- The agreement does not obligate OEMs to provide vehicle owners or aftermarket direct access to telematically generated repair and maintenance data; rather the OEMs have agreed to make repair and maintenance data available through OEM controlled systems and tools (access to data “that auto manufacturers make available to authorized dealer networks”).
- Regarding telematics and the wireless transmission of vehicle repair and maintenance data, the OEMs only agree to give access (again, not direct access) if the data “is not otherwise available” through the OBDII port. This means an independent shop could be forced to subscribe to multiple third-party tools to get access to telematics data, rather than through a single direct source.
- The agreement also fails to address the safety and security of the wirelessly transmitted vehicle data.
The REPAIR Act is a comprehensive and critical piece of federal legislation that preserves competition, affordability, accessibility and a vibrant supply chain, ACA said.
“While it is welcome news that the auto manufacturing industry acknowledges that ‘consumers deserve access to safe and proper repairs throughout a vehicle’s lifecycle,’ today’s letter...is nothing more than lip service and regurgitated platitudes," said CAR Coalition Executive Director Justin Rzepka. "This pact masquerades as pro-consumer but, in reality, does nothing to expand consumer choices and give a vehicle owner access to repair data.
"Any new agreement touted in the letter is entirely unenforceable and nothing more than window dressing," Rzepka continued. "This letter and agreement should be seen for what they really are---an attempt to prevent Congress from advancing consumer-focused legislation like the SMART and REPAIR Acts that would break the monopoly on auto parts and protect consumers’ rights to repair options and data access. The CAR Coalition remains committed to pursuing these bipartisan bills in order to put consumers, not auto manufacturers, in the driver’s seat when it comes to vehicle repair.”
ACA is a national trade association representing more than 536,000 companies and affiliates that manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, services, tools, equipment, materials and supplies, serving the entire supply chain of the automotive aftermarket. The CAR Coalition is a growing group of independent automotive parts, management and repair companies, associations and insurers committed to preserving consumer choice and affordable vehicle repair.
Source: Auto Care Association, CAR Coalition