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The Hill: REPAIR Act Will Guarantee the Right to Safe, Affordable and Accessible Vehicle Repair

Source: Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), opinion contributor, The Hill

On July 11, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between vehicle manufacturers and two automotive repair industry groups was released, detailing an “industry agreement” related to automobile right-to-repair. It is notable that the Alliance for Automotive Innovation omits the size and scope of these two “representatives of the independent repair community” that signed this letter.

More than 30 members of Congress have co-sponsored my bill, H.R. 906 — the REPAIR Act, including original co-sponsors Reps. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.), Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.). The Alliance for Automotive Innovation opposes the REPAIR Act, which will empower consumers with options when it comes to vehicle repair.

Vocal supporters of the REPAIR Act, with substantially more representation, did not agree to the stated “renewed commitment” in the MOU, which has no binding mechanism. REPAIR Act supporters include the Consumer Access to Repair (CAR) Coalition (Allstate, Autozone, Farmers Insurance), Discount Tire, Auto Care Association, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), American Motorcyclist Association, and Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), along with automobile and motorcycle enthusiasts across America. Without support from groups representing a majority of employees in aftermarket repair, it is inappropriate to cite this as a “landmark agreement,” which would omit the need for binding action between industries.

Additionally, the stated MOU claims to “affirm a 2014 national agreement on automotive right-to-repair” but excludes the main signatory on that 2014 MOU representing the independent aftermarket, the Auto Care Association. How could the trade association that originally signed the 2014 MOU and still representing hundreds of thousands of businesses around the country not be party to this “landmark agreement?”

All of these groups, representing the vast majority of the independent aftermarket, oppose this MOU as inappropriate for several reasons, not the least of which is that the MOU has no enforcement mechanism. The MOU is voluntary, does not apply to all manufacturers and has no details as to how repair data will be shared in a timely and unrestricted manner.

The reason I introduced the REPAIR Act in the 118th Congress is rooted in the lack of a binding, workable solution to anti-competitive behavior affecting the auto repair industry and consumers alike.

The MOU in question should be seen as a subtle and disguised attempt to dissuade you from recognizing the importance of the REPAIR Act. It is important to recognize the overwhelming support of more than 536,000 businesses that are engaged in the manufacturing, distribution and sale of motor vehicle parts, accessories, tools, equipment and supplies. These businesses provide vehicle service, maintenance and repair for the 292 million registered motor vehicles in our nation.

Moreover, they unanimously affirm that the implementation of the REPAIR Act is the sole means to ensure and safeguard consumer choice within the vehicle repair industry. I reaffirm the overdue need to pass the REPAIR Act, and the public is demanding action from this Congress that guarantees their right to safe, affordable and accessible vehicle repair. My colleagues should recognize that this MOU will not have a lasting effect on a mounting antitrust and consumer choice problem.

If the original equipment manufacturers can control the fate of the car, they own it, not you. It’s a lease, not a sale.

Dr. Neal Dunn represents the 2nd District of Florida, which includes all or part of 19 counties in North Florida. He serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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