Paul McCarthy: This Is a Historic Moment for Consumer Choice

Paul McCarthy: This Is a Historic Moment for Consumer Choice

McCarthy calls the REPAIR Act the most important federal legislation for the aftermarket since Magnuson-Moss.

In the July 2023 issue of AMN/Counterman, we gave leaders from the major distribution groups and trade associations an opportunity to reflect on the most critical issues affecting the automotive aftermarket. For the second year in a row, we let distribution leaders “riff” on these topics in their own words.

Here’s what Paul McCarthy, president and CEO of MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers, had to say about the ongoing battle to pass federal Right-to-Repair legislation.

We are in a historic moment for our industry. The REPAIR Act is the most important piece of aftermarket federal legislation since Magnuson-Moss in 1975.

If we don’t have the REPAIR Act, our research says that by 2035, $86 billion in consumer service choices will be thwarted by repair restrictions – and that number will grow quickly. Repairability isn’t just an automotive issue. It matters even more in the commercial-vehicle sector, where the information and access are needed to minimize downtime.

Government advocacy plays a crucial role in strengthening the automotive aftermarket. It’s an important activity that we can all participate in whether you have an “inside-the-beltway” background or just are passionate about our industry. By using our collective voices to highlight the significance of issues such as the Right to Repair movement, we support a thriving aftermarket sector that benefits consumers, ensures safety and fosters innovation.

And we have something that we can all believe in; the REPAIR Act is principle-based. We ask to continue what we’ve had – which is the ability to repair and maintain vehicles. What we advocate for is simple: the principles of consumer choice and free markets.

One of our key values is a commitment to safety. Aftermarket suppliers believe in safety, cybersecurity, trust, intellectual-property protection, privacy and cross-industry cooperation. And our industry has the technology and governance institutions to achieve all of this and repairability for consumers.

For example, the REPAIR act engages NHTSA to ensure repair safety and cybersecurity. As NHTSA pointed out in its vehicle cybersecurity guidelines, “ … Cybersecurity should not become a reason to justify limiting serviceability. Similarly, serviceability should not limit strong cybersecurity controls.” The REPAIR act ensures this.

Building relationships with elected officials is another powerful strategy. This summer, several of our members are engaging one-on-one with representatives at their facilities. These essential interactions ensure the industry’s voices are heard and cultivate government champions who can drive positive change on the aftermarket’s behalf.

I invite you to join MEMA’s and our industry’s advocacy efforts on repair access and other issues that are important to you. Your work and influence today will ensure a vibrant and prosperous aftermarket sector for years to come.

MEMA Aftermarket Suppliers

  • Founded: 1904
  • Headquarters: RTP, North Carolina (aftermarket); Washington, D.C. (government advocacy)
  • Number of members: 375 aftermarket suppliers of the parts, tools, chemical and technologies that keep vehicles running safely and affordably across their lifecycle.
  • Website: www.mema.org/membership/aftermarket-suppliers

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