Hailing it as "decisively ending the longstanding Right to Repair debate within the industry," a collection of automaker and aftermarket groups signed an agreement earlier this week to accept on a nationwide basis the "essential provisions" of the recently enacted Massachusetts Right to Repair legislation.
On Nov. 26, 2013, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that reconciled differences between a voter-approved Right to Repair measure and similar legislation that was passed out of the state legislature.
The new national agreement was signed by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, which has led the Right to Repair fight since 2001; the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality, a group of some 50 associations (including TIA), vehicle service providers (such as Bridgestone, Goodyear, Midas, Pep boys and others), and parts distributors and retailers (Advance, AutoZone, Auto Value, LKQ, O’Reilly’s and others); and OEMs representatives the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers.
While the two Massachusetts laws were similar there were some differences that needed to be reconciled, including two different deadlines for car companies to provide their diagnostic software through a cloud that utilizes a standardized vehicle interface as well as the type of vehicles included in the laws.
The new “national agreement to ensure consumer choice in post-warranty auto repair,” the signed memorandum of understanding claims, “extends nationwide the essential provisions for all light vehicles negotiated in the Massachusetts law; it impacts all companies and organizations that are currently members of the signatory associations.”
Not included in the agreement at this time is the Automotive Service Association, which has opposed Right to Repair from the start, and in late 2002 joined with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers to negotiate and offered their own “voluntary” program.
That effort created the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF), an online system by which service shops and dealers could buy the vehicle service information they needed, with daily, weekly, monthly or annual subscription options "available at a reasonable price."
This latest agreement would end the battle over Right to Repair, at least between the two aftermarket groups and the two manufacturer groups. Individual states continue to explore Right to Repair legislative options, which under the new agreement would be opposed by all parties. According to a news release announcing the agreement, “the parties agree that further state legislation is not needed and could serve to weaken the effectiveness and clarity of the MOU.”
“We are excited that consumers and independent repair facilities around the nation will have the same access to the information, tools and software needed to service late-model computer controlled vehicles as is required under the Massachusetts right to repair statute,” said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. “We believe that the resulting competitive repair market is a win-win for car companies, the independent repair industry and most importantly consumers.”
“Much like with fuel-efficiency economy and greenhouse gases, a single national standard regarding vehicle repair protocols is imperative,” said Mike Stanton, president and CEO of the Association of Global Automakers. “A patchwork of 50 differing state bills, each with its own interpretations and compliance parameters doesn’t make sense. This agreement provides the uniform clarity our industry needs and a nationwide platform to move on.”
“Since the first Right to Repair Act was introduced in Congress in 2001, CARE and the automotive aftermarket have worked to ensure our customers continue to have the right to choose where they buy their parts and have their vehicles serviced,” said Ray Pohlman, president of CARE. “This agreement will ensure vehicle owners will have competitive and quality choices in their repairs while strengthening the auto repair industry nationwide. This agreement illustrates what can happen when organizations focus on putting customers and consumers first.”