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Right To Repair: Automakers Ask For More Time In Massachusetts

The automakers and the state AG’s office have submitted scheduling proposals for further proceedings in the litigation.

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In November 2020, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved an update to the state’s landmark Right to Repair law, requiring automakers to provide a platform that enables motorists to access and control their vehicles’ telematics data.

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While the passage of Ballot Question 1 was a huge win for the automotive aftermarket, it’s unclear when the provisions of the legislation will see the light of day.

After voters approved the ballot measure by a 75% to 25% margin, a coalition of automakers – the Alliance for Automotive Innovation – filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ballot question based on a litany of allegations, including cybersecurity concerns; insufficient time to comply with the new data-access requirements; and their contention that the ballot initiative is preempted by federal law.

Over the past two years, the automakers have managed to keep the case tied up in court. Attorney General Maura Healey has idled the legislation until the lawsuit is resolved.

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Recently, it was reported that the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and the state attorney general’s office have submitted scheduling proposals for further proceedings in the litigation.

In its proposal, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation states: “While it remains the plaintiff’s position that the OEMs cannot comply with the plain language of the Data Access Law without violating their safety obligations under the Vehicle Safety Act, plaintiff understood the court to request a more robust discussion of the statutory interpretation issues that hopefully could narrow areas of disagreement. We are not off to an encouraging start. Worse, the attorney general couples her reiterated interpretations with an accelerated schedule that will ensure this endeavor fails. The attorney general’s proposed schedule simply does not allow time for a deeper dive on these interpretation questions.”

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The alliance proposed being given until Sept. 22 to review and reply to the AG’s proposal with the hopes of conferring and submitting a single clarified document on or before Oct. 14.

“It’s been nearly two years since the people of Massachusetts voiced their strong desire for more choice and competition when it comes to auto repairs,” Justin Rzepka, executive director of the CAR Coalition, said in response to the latest activity in the case. “As this case continues to drag on, Congress cannot wait – it must act on federal Right to Repair solutions, like the REPAIR and SMART Acts, to restore choice and empower businesses to service car owners that want options.”

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Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Underserved, Agricultural, and Rural Business Development will hold a hearing on Right to Repair at 10 a.m. EST on Wed., Sept. 14. Witnesses include the executive director of the Repair Association, which endorsed the SMART Act earlier this year, along with representatives from a New Hampshire-based tech shop and Maine family farm.

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