Automotive Alliance Manages to Delay Revised Massachusetts Right to Repair Law

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) has managed to stall enforcement of a ballot measure recently passed in Massachusetts that expands access to data related to vehicle maintenance and repair. Last week, the relatively new lobbying/trade group asked a U.S. district court for a temporary order that would bar implementation of the state’s new right-to-repair rules aimed at giving vehicle owners more direct control of their private data and independent repair shops a fighting chance of staying in business. But the state’s attorney general has already decided that the rules are invalid until after federal cases have been decided.

The decision represents another victory for giant, multinational corporations at the expense of disgusting citizens interested in controlling their personal information and small business owners who have had it easy for far too long.

According to court filings shared by Automotive News, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said on Monday that her office will not enforce the state’s revised law until there has been a ruling on claims challenging the legislation in federal courts. As such, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation no longer needs to worry about the rules until after claims are dismissed or a trial has been completed and has withdrawn its initial request.

The AAI represents most global automakers and several major suppliers — including Aptiv, Argo, BMW, Bosch, Byton, Denso, FCA, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Intel, Isuzu, Jaguar Land Rover, Karma, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, PSA Group, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo Cars. They’re fighting against a rule that was originally supposed to take effect this month and require them to equip vehicles that use telematics (which is most of them in 2020) with a standardized open-access data platform that would be easily accessible to drivers and/or third parties approved by the vehicle owner. However, it only impacts automobiles from the 2022 model year onward.

The industry already uses telematics to collect and wirelessly transmit all manner of data — everything from vehicle location to maintenance schedules, and everything in between. While manufacturers typically focus on how this can help with remote diagnostics and over-the-air updates, critics are annoyed that they are gatekeeping the data from literally everyone while building enormous analytics centers for themselves. In fact, BMW recently announced it would be partnering with Amazon Web Services to develop a cloud-based IT solution allowing it to integrate data and analytics into literally every aspect of the business “from vehicle development to after-sales services.”

But it’s hardly the only manufacturer working on such programs. Most major names have data centers already and have begun leveraging customer information.

While consumer advocates have said this gives an unreasonable amount of control to industry giants, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation claims the Massachusetts law represents a major cybersecurity threat and couldn’t possibly be accomplished within the original timeline. It also launched a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts last month, alleging that the new rules are unconstitutional and in direct violation of federal laws.

We’re inclined to believe that the revised right-to-repair laws would be fairly difficult to comply with on such a narrow timeline. But we also know that the industry has no intention of delaying its implementation so it can create a window to get ready. It’s worried that Massachusetts will set a national precedent that will require it to share data and make it harder for certified service centers to monopolize the repair industry.

It almost makes you feel sorry for them.

[Image: CAT SCAPE/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • DenverMike DenverMike on Dec 10, 2020

    Are they serious? It's not enough that we buy their disposable junk? Can't they just charge more? Instead of screwing us over at every frickin' turn? Their dealer/service criminals are another story, but our best defense is buying used, keep what we have. Repair, restore, upgrade, customize, etc. Yes have some fun with it. Or are we that addicted to the latest tech/gadgetry? Yeah for some, and they're probably better off with it, happier and whatnot. I hope automakers are prepared for the backlash, fallout, etc. From what I can tell, it's already happening. New vehicle sales have been stagnant for years, while the auto aftermarket has been growing exponentially in the same frame time. Automakers have been tunneling into SEMA for some time now. Screw them and their crate engines. It's much more cost effective to grab one from the junk yard, fully dressed, wire harnesses, the whole shebang bang.

  • Beachy Beachy on Dec 13, 2020

    So all you R voters got your judges who are now going to side with corporate interests over the consumers. And you are now all hurt and confused about how this happened.

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