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Concerns Exist Whether Car Makers Will Meet New Right to Repair Rules

The Auto Care Association and Coalition for Auto Repair Equality (CARE) are nervous whether all vehicle manufacturers will meet the Right to Repair requirements that take effect in 2018.

Aaron Lowe, senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs for the Auto Care Association, testified on behalf of both groups during a hearing with the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure at the Massachusetts Statehouse. The committee is studying whether OEMs are in compliance with the first-in-the-nation law that requires them to make available — at a fair and reasonable price — the same service information, tools and software they provide to their franchised dealers. 

Lowe said, “Many car companies are doing a good job in meeting the current Massachusetts Right to Repair requirements. However, new requirements will be taking effect for MY 2018 that will mandate vehicle manufacturers make all of their diagnostic and repair software available from the cloud and interface with the vehicle using a device meeting industry J2534 or ISO22900 industry standards.”

In late January, the Auto Care Association and CARE sent letters to the manufacturers requesting information as to whether they would be in compliance with MY 2018 requirements. Lowe said the association only received 10 responses indicating companies would be in compliance.

“I want to be clear that while we are not implying that the eight remaining companies are not in compliance with the model introductions a month away; we are concerned by their lack of response despite our multiple attempts to reach them."

The groups' testimony specifically pointed out they had not received any response from Tesla.

“While we have a lot of respect for the technological innovations spearheaded by Tesla, I want to take this opportunity to publicly ask Tesla to take action to ensure that their customers are not forced to patronize the small number of repair facilities for repair and maintenance of their expensive vehicles."

Lowe also expressed concerns about the Right to Repair requirements for heavy-duty vehicles, those weighing more than 14,000 pounds.

“Unlike the light-duty manufacturers, compliance reports we have received have led us to the conclusion that some companies in the heavy-duty industry do not appear to be taking these commitments seriously," Lowe said. "We therefore request that this committee amend this legislation to include the heavy-duty industry in the Right to Repair compliance study."

The associations also brought to light a concern specific to late model vehicles.

“Most car owners are unaware of the amount of vehicle data being transmitted to the vehicle manufacturer or how it might impact their repair choices,” Lowe said. “While telematics is not currently part of the Right to Repair legislation, we believe it is critical that car manufacturers provide more transparency to their customers regarding the telematics systems on their vehicle and that they provide control to the car owners regarding how, and to whom, the data produced by their vehicle is shared.

“While not everything is perfect, the forward-thinking actions of this legislature and of the people of Massachusetts have, for the most part, led to the successful implementation of the legislation ensuring competition in the vehicle repair market. Our organizations are proud of the Right to Repair effort, and also of the level of cooperation we have received from many manufacturers."

For more information about the Auto Care Association, visit www.autocare.org.

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