Purported agreement on Right to Repair sparks mixed industry reaction

Some industry stakeholders, including MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers and Auto Care Association, are expressing concerns about the agreement's breadth and enforceability.

The unveiling of a purported agreement on Right to Repair is being met with mixed reactions among the automotive aftermarket, with the Auto Care Association flatly calling it a “thinly veiled attempt to confuse lawmakers and drivers.” 

A pact, signed by the Automotive Service Association (ASA), the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, promises to guarantee consumer choice in automotive repair across all vehicle technologies. Find a statement about the pact here.

Some industry stakeholders, including MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers and Auto Care Association, are expressing concerns about the agreement’s breadth and enforceability.

A statement from the Auto Care Association said, “Auto Care Association, an original signatory to the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding, was not consulted about, was not a party to and does not support the agreement. ASA and SCRS, who did not sign or support the 2014 MOU, represent a small fraction of the independent repair market and do not speak for the automotive aftermarket. 

“Auto Care Association, on the other hand, is a national trade association representing over 536,000 companies and affiliates that manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, services, tools, equipment, materials and supplies. Auto Care Association serves the entire supply chain of the automotive aftermarket for the nation’s 292 million registered motor vehicles. Those businesses include over 280,000 repair facilities and 915,000 technicians nationwide.”

The new pact states that independent repair facilities should have access to the same diagnostic and repair information available to authorized dealer networks. It applies to all vehicle technologies and powertrains, covering access to telematics data necessary for diagnosis and repair, the agreement says. 

A statement from MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers says, “MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers supports progress toward a solution to repair access, and we see this agreement as a step in the right direction to ensure that consumers are protected. However, the agreement falls short of all the protections necessary to ensure consumer choice now and into the future for all parties, not only signatories of the pact. As a transportation industry, we believe that we have one opportunity to pass federal legislation and that legislation must include the ability to prioritize and protect consumers’ access to both light duty and heavy-duty vehicle repair and maintenance through all iterations of vehicle technology on the road today and to come.”

The MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers statement further says, “MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers welcomes the opportunity to work with all parties to align on a federal solution that reflects the principles of consumer choice and a free market, includes the expertise of the supplier community, has a mechanism for real enforcement, and prioritizes consumers, their safety, and their economy – and the innovative industry we serve. The Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act (H.R. 906) addresses these needs, and MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers continues to support this bill that addresses the above concerns and creates a repair ecosystem that puts consumers at the center.”

The move would be seen as particularly significant, considering that independent repairers already handle 70 percent of post-warranty automotive work. The agreement says that “consumers should have choice when it comes to repair options.”

Scott Benavidez, AMAM, Automotive Service Association Board Chairman and owner of Mr. B’s Paint & Body Shop Inc. in Albuquerque, New Mexico said: “ASA has been a steadfast advocate for the right of independent repair shops to vehicle service information since before the 2002 service information agreement it signed with automakers. Since then, the cars Americans rely on have become increasingly sophisticated, and the rate of innovation will only accelerate. The way vehicle issues are diagnosed and repaired evolves in tandem with advancement. ASA is proud to have reached this new agreement with automakers because it ensures ASA members can diagnose and repair their customers’ vehicles without hinderance (sic) from telematics nor any other innovation. Most importantly, it maintains a competitive repair market that yields the highest quality safety outcomes at a fair price for drivers.”

Amber Alley, Society of Collision Repair Specialists Chairman and Manager of Barsotti’s Body and Fender in San Rafael, California said: “Consumers should absolutely be able to choose quality repairs, performed in accordance with the specific procedures detailed by the vehicle engineers. They should have the right to be able to do so in an independent repair facility that has invested in the training, equipment and skillset development to meet the rigorous demands of sophisticated, modern vehicles. This expectation is achievable, and consumer options for repairs are not limited by automakers; quite the contrary. Consumers should have the right to a proper and safe repair, and this agreement reinforces the commitment that the entire industry will have the ability to train, equip their facilities, and perform repairs as intended by the vehicle engineers.”

John Bozzella, president and CEO, Alliance for Automotive Innovation said: “Automakers support right to repair, and today’s independent auto repair market is working well with lots of competition. Auto repairers across the U.S. have access to the same repair and diagnostic information provided to auto dealers. It’s not just automakers who say this. It’s the Federal Trade Commission. And with today’s agreement, it’s also the thousands of independent auto repairers and small businesses in all 50 states who together with automakers have once again made this fundamental commitment to customers.”

MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers and the Auto Care Association are raising concerns over the agreement’s potential shortcomings. They argue that the agreement does not fully protect future repair access and consumer choice. MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers views this agreement as a step in the right direction but believes it falls short of all necessary protections to ensure consumer choice now and into the future. They advocate for legislation to safeguard consumers’ access to both light and heavy-duty vehicle repair and maintenance.

The Auto Care Association stressed that the pact does not cover all automakers and lacks a mechanism to enforce OEM compliance. The association further points out that it does not obligate OEMs to provide direct access to telematically generated repair and maintenance data, nor does it address the safety and security of wirelessly transmitted vehicle data.

Both organizations rally behind the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act (H.R. 906). The act offers a comprehensive solution addressing these concerns and proposes a repair ecosystem that centers on the consumer.

The Auto Care Association finds fault with the new pact over several points: 

“The agreement between the Alliance, ASA and SCRS is not only designed to create confusion, but also has numerous flaws:

The Agreement is non-binding. There is no way to force OEM participation or to enforce OEM compliance.

The Agreement does not cover all automakers (e.g. Tesla) and there is no requirement for new OEMs to join.

The Agreement does not obligate OEMs to provide vehicle owners or aftermarket direct access to telematically generated repair and maintenance data; rather the OEMs have agreed to make repair and maintenance data available through OEM controlled systems and tools (access to data “that auto manufacturers make available to authorized dealer networks”).

Regarding telematics and the wireless transmission of vehicle repair and maintenance data, the OEMs only agree to give access (again, not direct access) if the data “is not otherwise available” through the OBDII port.This means an independent shop could be forced to subscribe to multiple third-party tools to get access to telematics data, rather than through a single direct source.

The Agreement also fails to address the safety and security of the wirelessly transmitted vehicle data.

The REPAIR Act is a comprehensive and critical piece of federal legislation that preserves competition, affordability, accessibility, and a vibrant supply chain.”

For the latest news and information on the global automotive aftermarket industry, visit https://aftermarketintel.com. Do you have news? Contact Aftermarket Intel Editor Mark Phillips at mark@lpnewmedia.com. He’s on LinkedIn here.

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