Three US industry associations representing thousands of independent mechanical repairers, collision repairers and vehicle manufacturers have signed what they say is a “landmark agreement” on automotive right-to-repair.
The commitment among the Automotive Service Association, the Society of Collision Repair Specialists and Alliance for Automotive Innovation 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 and tools that vehicle manufacturers make available to authorised dealer networks.
According to the associations, the commitment will ensure existing competition remains and that consumers have a range of repair and service options, including performing their own repairs.
“This commitment was created with our mutual and valued customers in mind – vehicle owners,” the coalition said in a letter to the US Congress outlining the development. “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.
“It should reassure you that independent repairers and automakers are not at odds on automotive data access, but rather in lockstep on this fundamental principle – consumers should have choice when it comes to repair options and the ability to have their vehicle serviced in well-equipped shops by well-trained technicians anytime, anywhere, anyplace.”
In addition to access to diagnostic and repair information, the associations told Congress that they have pledged to work together on education and training programmes, so that repairers are aware of their right to information and know where to find it. They also said that as vehicle technologies and obligations on repairers evolve, the commitment provides an avenue to ensuring a level playing field and a forum to discuss future repairer needs as they arise.
“Collectively, we recognise the importance of providing a wide range of repair options to meet the needs of our shared customers throughout the lifecycle of a vehicle. This renewed commitment should give policymakers full confidence that repairers and manufacturers are committed to co-operation and allied on this shared goal,” the associations said.
The signatories also agreed to reviewing the commitment annually and updating it, if appropriate, with a Data Access Working Group to be established to consider any technological advancements that may alter the repair marketplace.
Additionally, the parties pledged to work with federal and state legislators in support of legislation to codify the various provisions of the commitment, and against any legislation that is in conflict with the tenets of the commitment.
While the three parties found common ground, two other industry bodies, the Auto Care Association (ACA) and the CAR Coalition, immediately hit out at the pact. The ACA described the initiative as a “thinly-veiled attempt to confuse lawmakers and drivers” and alleged it contained “several flaws”, while the CAR Coalition called it an “attempt to block pro-consumer legislation.