Bill Seeks Consumer Access to Auto Data

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A bill introduced Feb. 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives would ensure vehicle owners and their chosen repairers have access to necessary repair and maintenance tools and data as vehicle technology advances and would require informing vehicle owners that they can choose where and how to get their vehicles serviced.

Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Illinois-1) introduced House of Representatives Bill 6570, “Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair Act,” also known as the “REPAIR Act.”

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The bill states, “as technology advances and vehicle systems become more advanced, vehicle repair and maintenance will require access to extensive vehicle data, software, sophisticated replacement components, training, diagnostic tools and diagnostic repair services.” It contends that consumers and their designees must have access to vehicle-generated data and aftermarket parts needed to maintain consumer choice and competitive pricing.

The bill also argues it is in the interest of the United States to foster competition in the motor vehicle repair industry and to not limit consumers in their choices for maintenance, service and repair, “allowing consumers and the industry to benefit from a system that fosters communication, collaboration and innovation and promotes consumer choice.”

Among other provisions, the bill aims to ensure cybersecurity by allowing vehicle manufacturers to secure vehicle-generated data and requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop standards for how vehicle-generated data needed for repair can be accessed securely.

The bill also calls for ongoing enforcement through a process for consumers and independent repair facilities to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission regarding alleged violations of the bill’s requirements, and it requires that the commission act within five months of a claim’s filing date.

If passed, the bill would call for establishment within 90 days of a Fair Competition After Vehicles are Sold Advisory Committee. The committee would include 11 individuals from a variety of industry segments: independent repair facilities, motor vehicle parts retailers, motor vehicle parts distributors, original equipment parts manufacturers, aftermarket parts manufacturers, aftermarket tools manufacturers, motor vehicle manufacturers, vehicle dealership service centers, consumer rights organizations, automobile insurers and trucking companies. 

The committee would provide recommendations to the Federal Trade Commission on implementing the act and competition issues after motor vehicles are sold, including those facing the vehicle repair industry. That would include assessing existing and emerging barriers related to vehicle repair as well as ensuring motor vehicle owners’ control over their vehicle-generated data.

The bill’s supporters include several automotive aftermarket associations – the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association, Auto Care Association, the Consumer Access to Repair Coalition and the Specialty Equipment Market Association. In a joint press release issued Feb. 3, they said they believe that as vehicle technology continues to advance, new barriers to a competitive auto repair market are emerging. These barriers limit consumer choice in where to repair their motor vehicles and increase the cost to repair and maintain vehicles, according to the associations.

“This effort supports principles of competition, consumer choice, and safety that we believe will benefit the whole automotive industry in the long run,” AASA President and CEO Paul McCarthy said in the press release.

“According to a recent YouGov poll, 93 percent of respondents agreed that they should have the right to choose where and by whom their vehicle is repaired,” CAR Coalition Executive Director Justin Rzepka said in the press release. “The REPAIR Act will ensure consumers will have more, not fewer choices, when they need a repair shop.”

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The full text of H.R. 6570 – REPAIR Act is available on the Congress.gov website.

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