Congressional watchdog to study automotive ‘right to repair’ issues

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Government Accountability Office environment in the coming months will look at “suitable to fix” difficulties involving the automobile business, the congressional watchdog verified Wednesday.

In an e mail to Automotive News, spokesman Chuck Young stated the workplace accepted a request previous week to study the topic and plans to start out the hard work in about 6 months “when pertinent staff members finish other get the job done and become out there.”

The action arrives soon after Rep. Jan Schakowsky urged the GAO to study “federal agencies’ endeavours to assure consumers’ right to repair service” with regard to gentle-responsibility automobiles and vehicles.

The Illinois Democrat requested the GAO to research how federal businesses could stability concerns these as “addressing cybersecurity dangers that may possibly be linked with higher accessibility to motor vehicle information and whether or not technological know-how exists to assure both equally info entry and cybersecurity protections,” in accordance to a letter despatched June 6 to GAO Comptroller Typical Gene Dodaro.

Schakowsky also pressed the GAO to glimpse into the usefulness of the car industry’s self-regulation and how it has held pace with advancements in technological know-how as properly as the competitiveness of the motor vehicle restore market place in the U.S.

The House lawmaker also requested for suggestions to other federal businesses to make sure consumers’ correct to repair service based mostly on the GAO’s review of the issue.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most big automakers in the U.S., mentioned it welcomes the more research.

“Appropriate now, most publish-warranty function — 70 percent — is finished by the independent aftermarket,” the alliance stated in a statement. “In point, the [Federal Trade Commission] has cited the automotive sector as a positive example of the current market doing the job effectively.”

Schakowsky, in the letter, argues a 2014 memorandum of comprehension between automakers and unbiased garages and merchants “predated the use of telematics to wirelessly transmit motor vehicle knowledge to makers.”

“The facts transmitted to suppliers consists of all those made use of for diagnostic and mend applications — probably undermining the industry’s self-regulation of ideal to maintenance by using the 2014 memorandum,” she wrote.

In February, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., launched a bill mandating that automobile entrepreneurs and independent fix outlets have the similar obtain to restore and servicing equipment and data as automakers and their franchised dealerships.

Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y., also have every introduced appropriate-to-repair laws.

Rush’s invoice is very similar to a controversial ballot evaluate in Massachusetts that was enacted by voters in 2020. The evaluate expands the current proper-to-mend law and calls for makers of vehicles bought in the point out to equip cars that use telematics systems with a standardized, open up-obtain knowledge system, commencing with the 2022 model 12 months. It also offers automobile house owners and independent maintenance shops access to true-time information and facts from the telematics, such as crash notifications, remote diagnostics and navigation.

In an ongoing lawful fight with Massachusetts Legal professional Common Maura Healey, the alliance has argued that the state’s amended right to mend regulation conflicts with numerous federal laws, poses cybersecurity and vehicle safety risks and sets an not possible timeline for compliance.

U.S. District Decide Douglas Woodlock is expected to problem a ruling on the circumstance by July 1.

Katherine T. Burrows

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