A new coalition of independent auto parts and repair companies, associations and insurers sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday supporting legislation that would give consumers more control over their personal vehicle data.
The Consumer Access to Repair Coalition includes Allstate, the Automotive Body Parts Association, the Certified Automotive Parts Association and LKQ Corp.
In the letter, obtained by Automotive News, the coalition asked Congress to reject the five-year federal preemption on state actions regarding telematics data-sharing that the Alliance for Automotive Innovation requested in June.
The alliance is made up of automakers, suppliers, auto-related technology companies and trade associations. In a letter last month, it said that sharing vehicle data could lead to dangerous misuse, including "by stalkers to prey on their victims." The organization also said a Massachusetts ballot initiative to allow outside parties access to vehicle data would "pose cybersecurity, personal safety, and privacy risks to the owner of the vehicle" and "endanger others on the nation's roadways."
Preserving consumer choice
In its own letter, the consumer access coalition called for legislation that "preserves consumer choice and control over their data while ensuring cybersecurity, privacy, and safety protections."
The coalition said that sharing real-time data with third-party repair shops would allow consumers to be notified of vehicle repairs before breakdowns or malfunctions. This would result in "tremendous cost-savings," the coalition said. The coalition also said that because insurance companies offer premium reductions based on telematics data, not allowing consumers to share that data with insurers limits savings.
The coalition denounced other actions by auto manufacturers, such as "abuse of design patents" and requirement of original equipment parts usage in repairs. Restricting data and tools from consumers and repair shops drives up costs and "perpetuates the monopolistic profit grabbing practices that have become the norm for OEMs," the coalition said.
The letter ended with a recommendation that Congress and the Department of Transportation work together "to examine this issue closely through official hearings and stakeholder input."
The coalition "stands ready to aid Congress as it examines these important issues," it said.
But the automotive alliance contends real-time data is not needed for repairs.
"There is no scenario in which real-time, remote access by third parties would be necessary to diagnose or repair a vehicle," the organization said last month.
The alliance reiterated that position in a Wednesday e-mailed statement.
"Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in 2014, automakers agreed to provide the same diagnostic and repair data to independent repair facilities that is provided to dealers," the statement said. "Our members remain committed to the MOU, and to ensuring that independent repair facilities have the information that they need to diagnose and repair vehicles, while also taking necessary steps to protect the privacy of our customers and the safety and security of their vehicles."
Justin Rzepka, executive director of the coalition and vice president of government affairs at Washington, D.C., lobbying and public relations firm BGR Group, told Automotive News he hopes the letter will raise awareness about personal vehicle data.
"We intend to engage stakeholders at the federal and state level on these matters, and we ultimately think a legislative solution is important," he said. "Firstly, raising awareness on this issue through congressional hearings, through oversight, will be important."
He also said that giving consumers data control would not compromise data safety, adding that insurers and repair shops are capable of protecting the information.
Moving forward, the coalition will pursue change on the federal and state levels to give consumers control over their vehicle data, he said.
"This isn't a brand-new issue, and it's not going away," Rzepka said.