Auto Service World
News   February 8, 2022   by Adam Malik

U.S. also moves forward on right to repair

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Right to repair has taken a major step forward in the United States for a trio of industries, including the automotive aftermarket.

American lawmakers introduced three bills related to right to repair, one for each of the automotive, agriculture and electronics industries.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, introduced the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act. This would give vehicle owners and independent repair shops the data needed access to repair and maintain modern, technologically advanced vehicles.

The REPAIR Act follows the introduction of the bipartisan Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation (SMART) Act, which would amend U.S. design patent law to ensure that consumers have more choices — not fewer — for quality, safe and affordable vehicle replacement parts.

The move has been met with universal enthusiasm from American aftermarket groups.

The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Auto Care Association, CAR (Consumer Access to Repair) Coalition, and Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) issued a joint statement following the news applauding the proposed bill.

“The legislation will ensure the preservation of consumer choice, a fair marketplace, and the continued safe operation of the nation’s 288 million registered passenger and commercial motor vehicles, 70% of which are maintained by independent repair facilities,” the statement said.

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According to the statement, the REPAIR Act will:

  • Preserving consumer access to high quality and affordable vehicle repair by ensuring that vehicle owners and their repairers of choice have access to necessary repair and maintenance tools and data as vehicles continue to become more advanced.
  • Ensuring access to critical repair tools and information. All tools and equipment, wireless transmission of repair and diagnostic data, and access to on-board diagnostic and telematic systems needed to repair a vehicle must be made available to the independent repair industry.
  • Ensuring cybersecurity by allowing vehicle manufacturers to secure vehicle-generated data and requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop standards for how vehicle-generated data necessary for repair can be accessed securely.
  • Providing transparency for consumers by requiring vehicle owners be informed that they can choose where and how to get their vehicle repaired.
  • Creating a stakeholder advisory committee and providing them with the statutory authority to provide recommendations to the FTC on how to address emerging barriers to vehicle repair and maintenance.
  • Providing ongoing enforcement by establishing a process for consumers and independent repair facilities to file complaints with the FTC regarding alleged violations of the requirements in the bill and a requirement that the FTC act within five months of a claim.

“Today is one of the most memorable and important days in the history of the aftermarket. The REPAIR Act will help guarantee consumers’ rights and the ability of the industry to ensure their vehicles operate safely,” said Paul McCarthy, president and CEO of AASA.

“Ensuring consumer choice while retaining a free and competitive market across the vehicle lifecycle is at the heart of this legislation,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of Auto Care Association. “The tenets of this bill are principles-based, balanced, and address concerns shared across the automotive industry.”

CAR Coalition executive director Justin Rzepka pointed to a recent YouGov poll that showed 93 per cent of respondents agreed that they should have the right to choose where and by whom their vehicle is repaired.

“The REPAIR Act will ensure consumers will have more, not fewer, choices when they need a repair shop,” he commented. “They will also have access to the data they need to make sure the repair is done safely. This is important, consumer-first legislation, and we look forward to working with lawmakers and industry partners to pass it.”

“Free and fair competition is a core value in the United States,” said Daniel Ingber, vice president of government and legal affairs, SEMA. “Protecting a consumer’s personal choice when purchasing, servicing, repairing, or modifying a motor vehicle is what the REPAIR Act will deliver.”

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