In a win for vehicle owners and independent auto repair businesses, the Maine Right to Repair coalition is celebrating the passage of Question 4. This victory places Maine alongside Massachusetts in a burgeoning nationwide movement aimed at modernizing Right to Repair laws to address the challenges posed by today’s connected cars.
With more than 95 percent of votes in, the measure passed by 84.3 percent to 15.7 percent with 389,819 votes cast.
In response, Auto Care Association President and CEO Bill Hanvey said, “The result of last night’s election in Maine proved another victory for the American consumer and the right to repair movement that is gaining support across the United States.
“The right to repair is one of a few unifying issues our nation faces, and whether we achieve repair access chamber by chamber or state by state, I am confident that every American will soon have the fundamental right to repair what belongs to them. Right to repair isn’t going away and this victory demonstrates that it’s an issue that needs to be resolved.”
Tommy Hickey, director of the Maine Automotive Right to Repair Committee, celebrated the outcome, stating, “By voting yes on Question 4, Mainers have now joined Massachusetts in a growing national movement to update automotive Right to Repair laws for the modern age of connected cars. Automakers are trying to monopolize the market on car and truck repairs, but their customers, the voters, are acting overwhelmingly to put the brakes on them.”
Question 4 mandates that vehicle manufacturers must provide all mechanical information required for diagnosing, repairing and maintaining cars and trucks. This data must be accessible to vehicle owners and authorized independent repair shops through an open access platform. The specific ballot question asked, “Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities?”
Tim Winkeler, President and CEO of VIP Tire and Service of Auburn, Maine, emphasized the significance of this victory for Maine families, saying, “This victory ensures that Maine families will continue to be able to rely on their local repair shop, who knows them and their vehicle and provides great value.”
Maine’s adoption of Right to Repair laws makes it the sixth state to do so, joining five others with similar legislation. California, Minnesota, and New York have laws pertaining to electronic and digital equipment, Massachusetts covers cars and trucks, and Colorado addresses agricultural equipment.
“The voters of Maine and Massachusetts have strongly spoken to protect their automotive right to repair,” Hickey said. “We will continue to explore any, and all options until there is an updated national agreement in place. In the face of new wireless technologies, voters nationwide are demanding the right to repair the car or truck they own wherever they choose.”
Here is a synopsis of the law:
•It defines “Mechanical data” as any vehicle-specific data used in the diagnosis, repair, or maintenance of a motor vehicle, including telematics system data.
•It defines “Telematics system” as a system in a motor vehicle that collects vehicle operation data and transmits it wirelessly to a remote location for storage and use.
•The bill ensures that owners and independent repair facilities have standardized access to the on-board diagnostic systems of motor vehicles, without requiring authorization from the manufacturer, except when such authorization is standardized and administered by an independent entity appointed by the Attorney General.
•The bill mandates that manufacturers of motor vehicles, depending on the model year, make available diagnostic repair tools, parts, software, and components to owners and independent repair facilities on fair and reasonable terms. It also requires access to on-board diagnostic and repair information to be the same for owners and independent repair facilities as that provided to new vehicle dealers, depending on the model year of the vehicle.
•For model year 2018 and later vehicles, it specifies the criteria for access to on-board diagnostic and repair information, including the use of non-proprietary vehicle interfaces and off-the-shelf personal computers.
•It requires manufacturers using telematics systems to equip their vehicles with an interoperable, standardized, and owner-authorized access platform that allows owners and independent repair facilities to access mechanical data directly for maintenance, diagnostics, and repairs.
•Manufacturers may exclude certain security-related information from being shared with owners and independent repair facilities but must make it available through secure data release systems.
•The bill provides enforcement mechanisms through the Attorney General and allows motor vehicle owners or independent repair facilities to initiate civil actions for violations, with the possibility of treble damages.
•It requires the Attorney General to establish a motor vehicle telematics system notice for prospective vehicle owners, explaining the purpose of telematics systems, the data collected, and the owner’s right to authorize independent repair facilities to access the data.
•Dealers selling or leasing vehicles with telematics systems must provide this notice to prospective owners, obtain their signed certification of having read it, and provide a copy of the signed notice to the prospective owner.
•Failure by dealers to comply with these provisions can lead to administrative consequences related to their license.
In summary, this bill aims to ensure standardized access to vehicle diagnostic data and repair information for both owners and independent repair facilities, particularly in the context of telematics systems, and establishes guidelines for information sharing, enforcement, and consumer awareness.
Last week, The Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act, H.R. 906, was successfully reported out of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Innovation, Data and Commerce. MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers celebrated this development as a crucial move for consumers, repair shops, parts suppliers and manufacturers in the automotive industry. They acknowledge that technology advancements are creating obstacles in accessing necessary vehicle repair information, highlighting the need for legislative intervention.
The passage of this measure received overwhelming support, with more than 95% of the vote. Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Florida) was instrumental in introducing and advancing the bill through the subcommittee, with bipartisan co-sponsors including Representatives Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Warren Davidson (R-OH), and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-OR). The bill has seen a groundswell of support, with four hearings in the past year and endorsement from an additional 43 House members.
The REPAIR Act aims to give consumers, shops, and suppliers unfettered access to vehicle repair and maintenance data, telematics, and diagnostic information for all types of vehicles and future technologies. It includes provisions for enforcement of standards, allows for bi-directional communication for vehicle and parts updates, and empowers the NHTSA to create cybersecurity guidelines for wireless access. The bill also seeks to prevent monopolies in vehicle repairs by ensuring open access to data.
With the current progress, the bill will now move to the full Energy and Commerce Committee, where MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers hopes to collaborate with members and stakeholders to refine the bill further, ensuring its successful passage through Congress.
“Without action from Congress, consumers will begin to lose choice and competition in the marketplace,” said Paul McCarthy, president and CEO, MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers. “The time is now for right to repair on all vehicles. Following this important action by the subcommittee, we look forward to working with all stakeholders to achieve consensus on further improvements to the legislation that protect competition and consumer choice.”
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