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History Repeats Itself As Automakers Strike Deal With Independent Repair Facilities To Provide Access to Telematics Data

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade association representing US automakers and other manufacturers, announced on July 11, 2023 that it had entered into an agreement with trade associations representing independent repair facilities affirming the continued vitality of a 2014 agreement on automotive right-to- repair issues and declaring that “independent repair facilities shall have access to the same diagnostic and repair information that auto manufacturers make available to authorized dealer networks.”

In the original 2014 Memorandum of Understanding, automakers agreed to make repair tools and information available for vehicles available to the aftermarket on fair and reasonable terms, and committed to equip vehicles commencing in model year 2018 with a non-proprietary onboard diagnostic interface to provide access to vehicle diagnostic and repair information systems. The recently-announced 2023 Automotive Repair Data Sharing Commitment reaffirms this commitment, and prohibits OEMs from using telematics systems to “circumvent” the aftermarket access that was promised in the 2014 MOU. If specific telematic diagnostic and repair data is needed to complete a repair, and also provided to an OEM’s authorized dealers, the manufacturer must make the same information available to vehicle owners and independent repair facilities “if it is not otherwise available through a tool or third -party service information provider.” The obligation does not apply to any telematics data beyond what is necessary to diagnose and repair a vehicle.

The recent announcement of a compromise between automakers and independent repair facilities on telematics data is silent as to whether the parties have agreed to a cease-fire in litigation pending in federal court, in which automakers have challenged a 2020 Massachusetts ballot initiative passed by an overwhelming margin that requires OEMs beginning with model year 2022 to equip vehicles sold in Massachusetts that “utilize a telematics system” with a standardized, non-proprietary, open access telematics platform and make certain mechanical data available to independent repair shops and vehicle owners. But if past is prologue, a legislative fix could very well moot the issues currently being litigated in federal court. The 2014 MOU followed a similar November 2012 ballot initiative in which Massachusetts voters required OEMs selling vehicles in that state to “provide access to their diagnostic and repair information system through a non-proprietary vehicle interface” commencing with the 2015 model year. Massachusetts legislators later repealed the law and replaced it with a compromise provision that gave OEMs until model year 2018 to make the required technical changes, mirroring the model year 2018 deadline for those changes contained in the 2014 MOU.