A U.S. House subcommittee hearing on "Proposals to enhance product safety and transparency for Americas" included discussion of the automotive industry's right to repair legislation, the REPAIR Act.
Kathleen Callahan, a 20-year industry veteran and owner of Xpertech Auto Repair, addressed the subcommittee on innovation, data and commerce, which is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Callahan is also a member of the Auto Care Association and the Women in Auto Care.
“My industry is an economic engine for the nation and essential to keeping America's 292 million registered motor vehicles on the road,” said Callahan. “I’m here today because my shop and every other independent repair shop in the country faces an existential threat to our future.
"The REPAIR Act allows the free market to work by prohibiting competition barriers that vehicle manufacturers [use],” she continued. “It will guarantee shops chosen by the vehicle owner can access the data they need to safely diagnose and repair vehicles today and in the future.”
The legislation's goal is to preserve competition and access to vehicle data so vehicle owners can choose where they get their vehicles repaired and maintained.
“Automotive right to repair is gaining momentum, not only in state capitals, but in the halls of the United States Congress,” said Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association. “On the heels of more than 300 professionals from the independent aftermarket visiting Washington, D.C., to push this critical issue, I am so proud that Kathleen was able to so effectively and passionately advocate for the entirety of the independent aftermarket. Her efforts will undoubtedly persuade the House Energy and Commerce Committee to continue to advance this legislation that is so important to preserving affordable right to repair.”
The Auto Care Association said the almost-three-hour long hearing served as "one of the first times that this critical piece of legislation was highlighted in the legislative process."
During the hearing, Callahan was asked why the REPAIR Act was necessary after a memorandum of understanding between the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers and Automotive Service Association was announced.
She said, “I’m not willing to risk my business and its future on a handshake agreement, where [automakers] could back out at any time.”
She also shared a recently encountered barrier to access to OEM data.
“This month I paid a brand-new fee to Stellantis to see basic data related to a check engine light in a long-time clients Jeep. we previously had access to this information through our current scan tool subscription services without additional paywalls.”
U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Republican from Florida, a leading sponsor of the REPAIR Act, said, "As technology continues to develop faster than consumer protection laws, it’s essential for an update… I don’t think that an MOU that’s unenforceable that only includes 1% of an industry is representative of that industry’s choices. It’s not acceptable for the vehicle manufacturers to exclude independent repair shops from accessing that data, especially if they're the owners. I think forcing auto owners into dealership repairs not only leaves a huge existing industry behind it veers towards vertical integration and monopolistic behavior.”