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News Center Maine: Maine Voters Approve Right to Repair. Here’s What That Means

Source: News Center Maine

The “yes” vote leveled the field so local and small-business mechanics can have access to data that would be restricted to dealerships.

Maine voters decided “yes” to Question 4, allowing local repair shops and mechanics access to the same data as dealerships.

Maine is the sixth state in the U.S. to approve such a measure, likely indicating the start of a wave of support behind similar initiatives.

Question 4, a citizen initiative, read as follows on the Maine ballot:

Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities?

A “yes” vote allows all mechanical information about a vehicle to be made available beyond dealerships regarding things like being able to diagnose and repair vehicles along with regular maintenance issues.

“By voting yes on Question 4, Mainers have now joined Massachusetts in a growing national movement to update automotive Right to Repair laws for the modern age of connected cars,” Tommy Hickey, director of the Maine Automotive Right to Repair Committee, said Tuesday in a statement. “Automakers are trying to monopolize the market on car and truck repairs but their customers, the voters, are acting overwhelmingly to put the brakes on them.”

The Maine initiative was spurred by a group of independent auto repair shop owners and other right to repair proponents through a citizens’ petition of over 70,000 signatures presented to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office this winter.

“This victory ensures that Maine families will continue to be able to rely on their local repair shop, who knows them and their vehicle and provides great value,” Tim Winkeler, president and CEO of VIP Tire and Service of Auburn, said.

Opposition to Question 4 primarily came from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group representing car manufacturers like General Motors, Ford, Subaru, and Toyota.

Locally, Question 4 was also opposed by the Maine Automobile Dealers Association, a group representing franchised new car and truck dealers.

The association’s president, Tom Brown, said in an interview his group’s opposition aligns with some of the points raised by the Alliance — including that the initiative isn’t necessary because access to diagnostics already exists.

However, momentum behind the right to repair effort in the United States is stronger than ever, Jessica Silbey, a law professor at Boston University who specializes in intellectual property law, said. Three such bills were enacted at the state level in the past year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and legislatures considered dozens of others.

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