Right to Repair initiative under fire by automaker group

by | Nov 24, 2020 | 0 comments

On November 3, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly in favour of a ballot question expanding Right to Repair by requiring automakers to allow them access to vehicle repair information amidst one of the hardest fought campaigns, and now a key automaker group is fighting back.

The approved Massachusetts Right to Repair Initiative, also known as Question 1, requires automakers to provide access to the independent sector as directed by the car owner, starting in 2022.

Now, a lawsuit launched by The Alliance for Automotive Innovation representing U.S. and international automakers—formed by the 2020 combination of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers—seeks to roll that back.

The group argues in its lawsuit that the Right to Repair initiative drives up manufacturers’ costs unnecessarily and threatens the privacy of car owners by exposing data on their vehicles.

The suit is asking the law be declared unenforceable over concerns regarding cybersecurity and intellectual property.

The new initiative builds on existing Right to Repair laws in Massachusetts that give the independent sector access to repair information but only by direct access through on-board systems.

The newly approved law would require that motor vehicle owners and independent repair facilities be provided with expanded access to data related to vehicle maintenance and repair.

Starting with model year 2022, the law would require manufacturers of motor vehicles sold in Massachusetts to equip any such vehicles that use telematics systems –- systems that collect and wirelessly transmit mechanical data to a remote server –- with a standardized open access data platform. Owners of motor vehicles with telematics systems would get access to mechanical data through a mobile device application.

With vehicle owner authorization, independent repair facilities and independent dealerships would be able to retrieve mechanical data from, and send commands to, the vehicle for repair, maintenance, and diagnostic testing.

Manufacturers would not be allowed to require authorization before owners or repair facilities could access mechanical data stored in a motor vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system, except through an authorization process standardized across all makes and models and administered by an entity unaffiliated with the manufacturer.

In response to the lawsuit, Auto Care Association president and CEO Bill Hanvey called for the courts to respect the will of the voters and dismissed the allegations concerning cybersecurity.

“Over the last several years, the Auto Care Association has joined with cyber security experts to develop international standards that could be readily implemented and will permit the cyber-secure sharing of data. Further, we have offered to work with the manufacturers to adopt these standards in order to ensure competition for their customers. However, instead of working to find common ground, the manufacturers have continued to engage in a scare campaign regarding access to wireless mechanical data, aimed first at voters and now the courts. Just like Massachusetts voters, we trust that the courts will see through the manufacturers’ scare tactics and will throw out this baseless lawsuit.”

The Automotive Industries Association of Canada recently launched the related “You Car. Your Data. Your Choice.” initiative in Canada. The program is designed to build awareness among Canadians at large and lawmakers of the issues surrounding control of the data generated by modern vehicles.

The program also includes a petition supporting consumer control of their vehicle data.

More information on this initiative in Canada can be found HERE.


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