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R2R agreement spurs criticism, ‘falls short’ of enforcement & equal access

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Collision Repair | Legal
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Following the announcement last week of an agreement made by two repair industry trade associations and a third representing auto manufacturers on the promise of continued access to data and information necessary to repair vehicles, several aftermarket industry associations have stepped up to oppose it. Most claims are that the agreement still doesn’t give the aftermarket the same access as OEM dealers to the procedures, tools, and equipment necessary to repair vehicles.

The R2R debate has been ongoing for more than a decade and, in answer to it, automakers and aftermarket trade groups agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2014 to give independent repair facilities “access to the same diagnostic and repair information that auto manufacturers make available to authorized dealer networks.”

The new agreement, published on July 11, by the Automotive Service Association (ASA), Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS), and Alliance for Automotive Innovation (Auto Innovators) affirms the MOU, according to the agreement. It was drafted after the groups were brought to the table through the bipartisan Vehicle Data Access Caucus, established by Rep. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), according to ASA and Auto Innovators.

Carter said the agreement is proof that the caucus is doing what it was intended to do: “starting conversations between stakeholders so that the automobile industry can better serve its customers — and I hope we will continue having productive conversations and delivering results for car owners, manufacturers, and repairers.”

On the same day, the CAR Coalition released a statement in which it “questioned the impetus” behind the pact.

“While it is welcome news that the auto manufacturing industry acknowledges that ‘consumers deserve access to safe and proper repairs throughout a vehicle’s lifecycle,’ today’s letter from the Automotive Service Association, Alliance for Automotive Innovation, and Society of Collision Repair Specialists, is nothing more than lip service and regurgitated platitudes,” said CAR Coalition Executive Director Justin Rzepka.

“This pact masquerades as pro-consumer but, in reality, does nothing to expand consumer choices and give a vehicle owner access to repair data. The letter states that the organizations listed have recommitted themselves to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) from 2014 about patent abuse and data access. However, they were not original signatories of that MOU and they did not contact actual signers of the MOU for their input.”

Rzepka added that the new agreement is unenforceable and “nothing more than a window dressing” that aims to prevent Congress from advancing consumer-focused legislation such as the SMART and REPAIR Acts.

On July 13, the coalition released a summary of results from a national survey of 1,000 vehicle owners, ahead of a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet R2R hearing that will be held today. The survey was conducted by YouGov Survey between June 29 and July 5.

The coalition said the survey shows “a sizable majority of Americans support a federal vehicle right-to-repair law that would prevent automakers from restricting vehicle owners’ repair options.”

“They also showed a strong preference for independent repair shops over dealerships,” CAR Coalition said. “Key results included:

    • “94% want to choose WHERE their vehicle is repaired;
    • “93% want to choose WHO repairs their vehicle;
    • “79% are willing to share their vehicle data with independent repair shops;
    • “75% support legislation preventing auto manufacturers from restricting consumer access to
      vehicle data;
    • “74% believe vehicle owners should have access to their vehicle data; and
    • “63% would take their vehicle to an independent repair shop.”

Opus IVS President and CEO Brian Herron told Repairer Driven News he and his company have concerns if it’s meant to replace the 2020 Massachusetts right to repair referendum that was approved by voters.

However, Herron also said any time the aftermarket and automakers discuss R2R, it’s a positive move. Opus IVS has been involved in supporting R2R prior to 2009.

“From a collision perspective, if you think about all these OE position papers and OE scanning activities that are going on, none of that ever could have happened without right to repair,” Herron said. “So we feel like it’s a fundamental building block of just being able to enable repairers to correctly and quickly repair these cars safely.

“Right to repair has brought people to the table over and over again, whether it’s a law or an MOU it’s brought the parties to the table.”

While Herron said the agreement between ASA, SCRS, and Auto Innovators is positive, he said it falls short when it comes to direct OBD access, equal telematics access, heavy duty vehicles, and enforcement.

“It says that anything that’s not available through the OBD port, they have to make available for the telematics system,” Herron said. “Let’s imagine a future where there’s no scan tool report then you have to get it through the telematics system. But it [agreement] says if it is available through the OBD port, then you don’t have to get it through the telematics system and that kind of differentiates what the dealers might get.”

In a joint statement, the Auto Care Association (ACA), MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers (MEMA), American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA), CAR Coalition, Tire Industry Association (TIA), and Commercial Vehicle Solutions Network (CVSN) said they don’t support the pact.

“While the agreement admits that there is a problem with access to repair data, the pact falls short of addressing specific current challenges and accounting for future innovation,” the statement says. “This unenforceable, voluntary pact between a small segment of the aftermarket is not the solution and undermines the consumer’s right to equitable access to vehicle data.”

The groups noted that while the pact says ASA, SCRS, and Auto Innovators will ensure a level playing field between independent and dealer repairers as well as consumer choice and access to repair procedures it doesn’t say how.

“The Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act (HR 906) does address the issue we all agree exists, and accounts for the meaningful details of our complex U.S. vehicle fleet. The pact, as it is currently written, not only creates confusion, but also has numerous substantive flaws.”

Flaws listed that the groups believe are adequately addressed in the REPAIR Act include enforcement through a mechanism that would apply to all automotive OEMs and all on-road vehicles and require direct consumer access to repair, maintenance. telematics, and diagnostics data without going through OEMs. Plus, it would allow for the use of bi-directional communication to update vehicle software, repair parts and services competition in the market, and accounts for future technologies — all in “a cybersecure, regulated manner,” the statement says.

In its own statement, though similar to the joint statement, the ACA called the new R2R agreement “a thinly veiled response by the automotive OEMs to HR 906: The REPAIR Act.”

SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg retorted in response to the opposition that he doesn’t understand “how or why an organization who claims to support the right to repair would dismiss, let alone oppose, an agreement which reinforces that independent repair facilities will continue to have access to the same diagnostic and repair information that auto manufacturers make available to dealers.”

“From our experience, automakers have worked closely with the independent collision repair industry to develop repair opportunities with an emphasis on upholding quality and safety standards through a commitment to training, equipping, and performing repairs as intended by the vehicle engineers,” he said. “Consumer choice is far more limited by some of the proponents of the REPAIR Act, masquerading as a voice of the independent repair market and protecting consumers’ right to choose independent repair facilities.”

“It’s probably important to pay attention to who is actually championing the message. For example, the CAR Coalition is comprised of used and aftermarket parts groups and companies like ABPA, CAPA, Diamond Standard and LKQ; alternative parts sourcing platforms like and PartsTrader; and insurance company organizations and companies like Allstate, Farmers and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. All of these groups, who are waving the banner of consumer choice and the “right to repair,” have a financial interest in pushing consumers to the cheapest possible repair.”

In response to criticism from ACA and CAR Coalition, Auto Innovators tweeted:

State R2R legislative action

Both Massachusetts and Maine have been part of the R2R debate as well. The referendum that voters passed in 2020 resulted in the Data Access Law – an extension of the state’s already-existent right to repair law. Enforcement of the law was put off by the state’s former Attorney General Andrea Healey at the request of Auto Innovators. Enforcement began on June 1 by new AG Joy Campbell despite efforts in court to stop it by the alliance as part of its ongoing lawsuit against the state.

In Maine, a similar referendum was approved earlier this month by the legislature to be on November’s ballot. The referendum is the result of an approved citizens initiative taken to the Secretary of State by Maine Right to Repair Coalition after the collection of more than 80,000 petition signatures from auto repair and parts store operators. The coalition also put forth a draft of proposed legislation.

Voters will be asked if the state should create a “standardized access platform” for data generated, collected, and transmitted by vehicles. Some of the language used in the bill, LD 1677, comes from the Massachusetts Data Access Law, which is still being litigated.

In May, U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said monetary injury to Auto Innovators’ members through enforcement of the Data Access Law is measurable by monetary damages and can be a basis for preemption (whether federal law trumps local and/or state law), he also said there are significant differences in the way the parties read the statute with the more reasonable reading being the AG’s.

In June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent a letter to 22 automakers that warned federal law preempts the newly-enforced Data Access Law and laid out safety concerns if the state law is followed.

In Maine, an R2R referendum will be on the Nov. 7 ballot this year, which was the result of a petition by the Maine Automotive Right to Repair Coalition that was signed by more than 80,000 auto repair and parts store operators.

The referendum was automatically approved by lawmakers on July 6, the last full day of the legislative session for the year, because no direct action was taken for or against it, according to

“This issue is about choice,” coalition spokesperson Kate Kahn told Ballotpedia. “Consumers want the ability to choose where to take their cars or trucks to be repaired. They do not want to be told they can only take their autos to expensive dealerships.”

Auto Innovators has previously argued in court as part of the Massachusetts Data Access Law case that significant differences between the law approved by Massachusetts voters and the Maine initiative, both promoted by ACA, show those who drafted the Maine legislation recognized that the Massachusetts legislation is flawed.

“The changes that the Data Access Law’s drafters made in the Maine ballot initiative underscore several features of the Data Access Law that make compliance impossible, and the ACA has done nothing to facilitate that compliance since the 2021 trial in this action,” AAI wrote. “Auto Innovators respectfully requests that the Court consider these facts when rendering its judgment deciding whether to award any future equitable relief.”

At the federal level, the Congressional committee hearing titled “Is There a Right to Repair?” beginning at 10 a.m. EST “will examine the current legal landscape of the right to repair and related intellectual property issues, including potential future avenues for policymaking,” according to the committee webpage.

“The hearing will also discuss laws and regulations at both the federal and state level and the implications for a range of industries from automotive to software to consumer electronics,” the description says.

Witness will include Aaron Perzanowski, Thomas W. Lacchia Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School;Devlin Hartline, Legal Fellow, Hudson Institute’s Forum for Intellectual Property; Kyle Wiens, iFixit co-founder and CEO;Paul Roberts, founder, and  Security Ledger editor-in-chief, and Scott Benavidez, ASA chairman and Mr. B’s Paint & Body Shop owner.


Featured image: Constantinis/iStock

More information

R2R debate continues in Maine, could result in 2 voter referendum questions

Shops say access to OEM repair procedures readily available

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