Supporters submit enough signatures to place ‘Right to Repair’ on November ballot
Voters may have the chance to approve legislation that would require auto manufacturers to give independent auto mechanics access to repair data and diagnostic codes currently available only to dealerships.
Supporters of the legislation, known as “Right to Repair,” said Monday that they submitted 16,000 signatures -- about 5,000 more than required -- to Secretary of State William Galvin to place the issue on the November ballot if the Legislature does not act before.
A right-to-repair bill was passed by the Senate in May, but the House of Representatives has yet to take action on it. Supporters say the legislation would make it easier for drivers to fix cars themselves or use an independent auto mechanic and avoid a higher-price dealerships.
“Although we are still willing to come to a legislative compromise, delivering these signatures today ensures that one way or another, Massachusetts consumers will soon be able to take their vehicle where they want for repair and maintenance,” said Art Kinsman, a spokesman for the Right to Repair Coalition, which represents repair shops and other supporters.
Auto manufacturers only provide data and diagnostic tools needed to repair today’s technologically sophisticated cars to authorized dealers. Under the proposed law automakers would also have to make data and tools available for purchase at a fair price by car owners and independent mechanics.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association representing some of the world’s largest automakers, says the bill threatens intellectual property rights, and could put customers at risk by compromising the online security of data. While the group has been trying to reach a compromise with legislators, spokesman Dan Gage said Monday that the Alliance has formed a committee to fight the issue if it is put before voters.
“Automakers have a responsibility to the safety of our consumers, the longterm integrity of our products, and the jobs of eight million American workers who rely on us for their livelihoods,” Gage said.Erin Ailworth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.