The combination of three automotive associations’ support of Right to Repair legislation seems like a big win, especially when one of those groups represents original equipment manufacturers, but a fourth association says the OEM support isn’t as it appears. And as time goes on, more groups are questioning the new pact.
This week the Automotive Service Association, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation issued a joined statement saying they had entered into a “landmark agreement” in support of the industry’s Right to Repair, and that the pact would guarantee “consumer choice in automotive repair.”
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation's membership includes many OEMs, a group that has traditionally been opposed to Right to Repair efforts. And the Automotive Service Association (ASA) has been opposed to past Right to Repair legislative efforts.
The three groups said their commitment “affirms a 2014 national agreement on automotive right to repair and states unequivocally that ‘independent repair facilities shall have access to the same diagnostic and repair information that auto manufacturers make available to authorized dealer networks.’”
The groups said the “commitment was created with our mutual and valued customers in mind: vehicle owners. It affirms that consumers deserve access to safe and proper repairs throughout a vehicle’s lifecycle (and) it is built to last because it anticipates changes in automotive technologies and market evolutions.”
The groups said the agreement included access to diagnostic and repair information, education and training and future advancements.
But the Auto Care Association took exception to the other groups’ joint statement.
The Auto Care Association called it “a thinly veiled response by the automotive OEMs to HR906: The REPAIR Act. While the agreement purports to be relevant, all it does is affirm the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding rather than implement a meaningful solution to preserve the entire automotive aftermarket and the competition and consumer choice that it creates.”
The Auto Care Association says the three-party pact is “designed to create confusion,” but also flawed because it’s non-binding for OEMs and doesn’t include all automakers. (It noted Tesla is not included, and that there’s no requirement for new automakers to join.)
Additionally, in a separate message, the Tire Industry Association has said it doesn’t support the pact between the Automotive Service Association, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation.
“While TIA acknowledges the positive intent and certain aspects of the agreement, the current pact falls short in adequately addressing the concerns of consumers and protecting their rights along with those of the independent automotive repair market,” said Roy Littlefield IV, TIA's vice president of government affairs.
TIA notes it is especially concerned about the lack of “an enforcement mechanism and the power of law within the pact.”
“TIA firmly believes that any meaningful right-to-repair initiative must possess robust enforcement mechanisms to safeguard consumer rights effectively,” Littlefield said.
The Auto Care Alliance has subsequently expressed its opposition to the pact, and in a statement asked "why one of the parties to the 'pact' has flipped positions after being vehemently opposed to Right to Repair for over 20 years. The Automotive Service Association has repeatedly voiced its opposition to Right to Repair, and their reasons for opposing in the past have not been addressed in this new pact."