Why the looming right-to-repair legislation will change the auto industry

Daniel Davenport
2 min readJul 26, 2021
Photo by Chad Kirchoff on Unsplash

Massachusetts voters passed an amendment in November to its upcoming 2021 right-to-repair law that will have national repercussions for the industry. It has the potential to change the landscape of how consumers access and use data from their cars.

The amendment is meant to allow drivers and independent service technicians access to the telematics data their cars transmit back to the OEM — and that may seem like an easy ask. But OEMs closely guard telematics data for legal, intellectual property, and lock-in considerations.

Being forced to implement an open data platform has the power to create a ripple effect across the industry, as data will become available to a much broader audience. OEMs may not want competitors to access their customers’ data but there are also privacy implications to consider. Customers need to know their data is protected.

The reality is OEMs have until August 2021 to meet initial compliance and be ready to start selling updated 2022 model-year cars by October 2021. But creating a platform to share consistent telematics data can have its challenges.

On July 9th, President Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to take steps to promote competition in the US economy; one such directive was for the FTC to create additional regulations that prohibit manufacturers from preventing the repair of equipment and devices by individuals and independent repair shops.

James Seddon and Darrell West from the Brooking Institute think this measure does not go far enough:

“A potential patchwork of state laws, memorandums of understanding, and limited FTC rulemaking are insufficient to address an issue that impacts essentially all consumers and products sold in the United States. The benefits are clear, and stakeholders and the public deserve the opportunity to provide comment. We hope that the renewed focus on the right to repair from the White House and the FTC also will spark serious action from Congress.”

With August just around the corner it will be interesting to see how the 2020 Massachusetts referendum is enforced and what the practical ramifications are for automobiles and the right to repair.

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Daniel Davenport

Digital | Automotive | Strategy