While the outcome of the presidential election remained unclear as of Wednesday afternoon, the auto industry at least knows the results of a highly contested ballot question in Massachusetts that pitted independent repair shops and aftermarket parts retailers against most major automakers, with both sides spending millions to tilt voters in their favor.
Voters in the state Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure to update the existing "right to repair" law, with 75 percent voting in its favor, according to The Associated Press.
The updated law expands access to mechanical data related to vehicle maintenance and repair by requiring automakers to make available all mechanical information needed to diagnose and repair vehicles as well as perform routine maintenance starting with 2022 models. It also gives vehicle owners and independent repair shops access to real-time mechanical data from telematics — systems that collect and wirelessly transmit information such as crash notifications, remote diagnostics and navigation from the vehicle to a remote server.
Supporters, such as the Auto Care Association and O'Reilly Auto Parts, said the initiative closes a loophole in the current law that exempts data transmitted wirelessly through telematics systems while giving vehicle owners more choice and control over their data.
Critics, including the Alliance for Automotive Innovation and most major automakers, said the measure is a "data grab" by independent repair shops and big-box aftermarket parts stores and poses cybersecurity, personal safety and privacy risks to vehicle owners.
John Bozzella, CEO of the alliance, said stakeholders such as NHTSA also have "highlighted tremendous concerns with the language" in the ballot question.
"Automakers have made available all the diagnostic and repair information that is needed to service a vehicle safely and securely. That consumer choice will not change," he said in a statement to Automotive News. "Moving forward, automakers will continue their work to protect our customers and prioritize their safety, privacy and vehicle security."