'Right to Repair' becomes law in Massachusetts
Automakers will be required to provide independent repair shops in Massachusetts with the same access to diagnostic tools that they provide to franchised dealers now that Gov. Deval Patrick signed a "Right to Repair" bill into law Tuesday.
Vehicle manufacturers had vehemently resisted earlier efforts to pass such a bill because, they said, it would force many of them to redesign vehicle software across their U.S. product lineups. Automakers complained that previous versions of the bill didn't allow them enough time to make adjustments to product development schedules in order to comply and required the use of "outdated" diagnostic software.
However, automakers drafted a compromise bill with Right to Repair advocates and the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association less than 24 hours before the end of the state's formal legislative session. That bill was sent to Gov. Patrick last week.
Art Kinsman, spokesman for the Right to Repair Coalition, said in a statement that the new law will ensure that independent repair shops won't have to turn away customers because they lack the tools to repair a vehicle.
"We thank the governor and the legislature for recognizing the benefits that Right to Repair will provide consumers. This new consumer law will expand choice, level the playing field for local, neighborhood repair shops, and put more price competition -- and consumer savings -- into the car repair marketplace," Kinsman said.
Though the Right to Repair Coalition agreed to compromise with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers -- which represents 12 automakers, including Toyota, Volkswagen and the Detroit 3 -- and the Association of Global Automakers -- which represents Toyota, Honda, Nissan and 11 other import-brand automakers -- the statement claims a victory against "big car makers," which it says withdrew "their opposition" to universal access for repair shops.
Dan Gage, a spokesman for the alliance, said the law appeases the concerns of automakers and repair shop owners.
"In the end, months of non-stop negotiations and a strong effort to reach an eventual compromise amongst all parties, will allow us to collectively innovate and preserve the safety and security of vehicles and drivers on the road," Gage said in a statement.
Massachusetts voters will be faced with a ballot question in November regarding the issue. The compromise bill was drafted after the initiative could be removed from the ballot by Right to Repair advocates. However, all parties involved have agreed to persuade voters to cast ballots against the initiative.
If the ballot initiative does pass, it would take precedence over the terms of the new law, but the Legislature likely would repeal one of the statutes to clarify state law.
You can reach Adam Rubenfire at email@example.com.