More than 18 months after Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure expanding the state’s Right to Repair law to include data access for vehicle owners, the voter-approved changes remain in limbo, as of the beginning of July.
Douglas Woodlock, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, issued a notice on July 1 announcing another delay in the decision on the automakers’ challenge to the Right to Repair ballot initiative, the Auto Care Association says.
Citing “the need to consider fully the implications of the long-anticipated decision” and “unforeseen and unforeseeable scheduling complications encountered in the past several weeks coming upon the extended holiday weekend,” Woodlock further delayed the conclusion of the case.
Based on his statement, the delay is expected to be short. However, the judge previously stated that he would issue a final judgment no later than July 2.
“This latest delay is a blow to Massachusetts drivers struggling with high gas prices, supply chain shortages, and rising repair costs,” says Justin Rzepka, executive director of the CAR Coalition, a group of independent automotive parts and repair companies, associations and insurers pushing Congress to take action to uphold the right to repair. “It’s time for Congress to take swift action and advance national right to repair legislation, such as the REPAIR and SMART Acts, to provide Americans with much-needed relief.”
As the industry awaits the long-anticipated decision on the Right to Repair court case in Massachusetts, the auto care industry continues the fight for safe and secure access to vehicle maintenance and repair data on the national and international stage. On the federal front, the Auto Care Association has worked to gain support for the REPAIR Act to secure the Right to Repair for all Americans, but time is running out to secure co-sponsors in this Congress, the association says.
Massachusetts Right to Repair
On Nov. 3, 2020, Massachusetts voters approved the ballot measure by a 75% to 25% margin. The new Right to Repair law would require manufacturers to provide vehicle owners both access and control of the diagnostic and repair data generated by their vehicles.
In December 2020, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, whose members produce the vast majority of cars and light trucks sold in the United States, filed for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the new law. The motion for injunction claims that the updated Right to Repair law “is unconstitutional because it is preempted by federal law.”
“By requiring auto manufacturers to eliminate existing cybersecurity controls that protect core vehicle functions and thereby ensure the safe operation of vehicles within prescribed emissions limits, the Data Law conflicts with the requirements, purposes and objectives of the federal National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Clean Air Act,” the alliance asserts in its court filing.
The US automotive aftermarket has experienced several victories when it comes to Right to Repair. This right was secured twice in Massachusetts: first in 2012, resulting in a nationwide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with automakers for vehicle diagnostic and maintenance data from the OBD, and again in 2020 for wirelessly-generated vehicle data.
How to Show Support
In response to the need for continued momentum and even more engagement on the issue, members of the Auto Care Association’s Marketing and Communications Committee are asking for the industry to partake in a “Right to Repair Awareness Month” this July.
“It’s critical to engage our 4.4 million brothers and sisters in this battle for independence,” says Bill Hanvey, president and CEO, Auto Care Association. “We must continue a steady drumbeat and add more voices to our story. That’s why this July, we’re launching Right to Repair Awareness Month to ensure that every colleague, peer and coworker knows what Right to Repair is and why they need to get involved.”
The association says anyone in the industry can join the Right to Repair Awareness Month effort by doing two simple things:
- Share your support for Right to Repair throughout the month of July and what it means to you on social using the hashtag #righttorepair. The Auto Care Association has created a media kit with downloadable and editable graphics for eye-catching communications.
- Be an ambassador within your organization: Use resources from the association’s media kit to educate your company and encourage your employees or colleagues to also take 30 seconds to send a pre-populated letter to their local legislator via the association’s Action Center.
Additional resources, including full briefs on Right to Repair can be found on the Auto Care Association website for both the state and national levels.