The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance), the Association of Global Automakers (Global), the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), and the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality (CARE) announced their collective acceptance of a national agreement to ensure consumer choice in post-warranty auto repair, decisively ending the longstanding “Right to Repair” debate within the industry.
The national agreement is based on the recent law finalized in Massachusetts. The signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) extends the essential provisions for all light vehicles negotiated in the Massachusetts law nationwide; it impacts all companies and organizations that are currently members of the signatory associations. Unlike the recent changes to the law in Massachusetts, the agreement does not include heavy duty trucks, nor does it include motorcycles.
Should a consumer or repair shop be unable to obtain information, software, or a tool from a automaker, the complaining party would first be required to contact the car company either directly or through the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) to request access to the information, tool, or software. A car company has 30 days to respond to this request.
If the shop or consumer are still not satisfied, then the individual or shop can take the issue before a five-person dispute resolution panel established under the MOU comprised of representatives from the four signatory groups and chaired by an independent professional mediator. If the dispute cannot be resolved amicably, the panel will make a ruling based on the terms of the MOU.
The Automotive Service Association, in September 2002, reached a voluntary agreement with vehicle manufacturers. That agreement provided that manufacturers would provide independent repair shops with the same service and training information related to vehicle repair as is available to franchised dealerships. It also specified that NASTF would work to resolve issues that might arise, but did not include the more formal dispute resolution panel.
“ASA is a long-time supporter of industry solutions to service information, tool, and training issues. ASA signed an agreement in the fall of 2002, addressing these issues, at the urging of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. We believe this agreement has made a significant contribution to the automotive independent repairer,” said Bob Redding, Washington ASA representative. “It is encouraging to see the automotive industry continue to come together on non-legislative solutions for the service information issue. On these most important issues, a government solution should be the last option, not the first.”
This national agreement ensures the Alliance, Global, AAIA, and CARE will stand down in their fight on “Right to Repair” and work collectively to actively oppose individual state legislation while their respective groups work to implement this MOU. In the meantime, the parties agree that further state legislation is not needed and could serve to weaken the effectiveness and clarity of the MOU.
“Automakers manufacture high-quality, innovative vehicles that provide strong value, safety, and convenience to our customers,” said Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. “Accessible, efficient, accurate, and competitively-priced repair and service are paramount, and franchised dealers and the aftermarket play unique and important roles in the repair process.”
“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, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. “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 fifty 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 illustrates what can happen when organizations put customers and consumers first,” Pohlman said.