New report states there is overwhelming opposition to manufacturers’ use of design patents to restrict options for common repair parts
Washington, D.C.—The CAR Coalition, a growing group of independent automotive parts, management and repair companies, associations, and insurers committed to preserving consumer choice and affordable vehicle repair, has released the results a national survey of vehicle-owning voters, showing strong support for action on federal right to repair legislation, such as the bipartisan Save Money on Auto Repair Transportation (SMART) Act.
• 78% of voters support right to repair legislation that:
— Allows consumers to choose where and how to repair their vehicle.
— Reduces design patent enforcement time from 15 to 2.5 years for collision repair parts, as proposed by the SMART Act.
— Makes vehicle data more readily available.
• 92% of voters agree that consumers should be able to choose between automaker-branded and aftermarket car parts when making repairs.
• 85% of voters support vehicle data being made available to consumers and any repair shop they choose.
• Only 25% of voters believe that design patents should be used for common car items, such as side mirrors or bumpers.
“Repair restrictions on automobiles are driving prices higher at a time when many Americans can least afford it,” said Justin Rzepka, executive director of the CAR Coalition. “It’s time for Congress to get serious about solutions, including the SMART Act, to ensure consumers have options for quality, safe, affordable auto repairs and more control over their data.”
The survey, conducted nationally and in select states, including Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington, found consistent strength for federal right to repair legislation from coast to coast.
In states and Washington, D.C., the right to repair movement is gaining ground. Last November, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative to mandate that automakers install standard open data platforms in all vehicles starting in car model year 2022. In July, the White House issued an executive order on competition, encouraging action on right to repair.
Later that month, the Federal Trade Commission voted to increase enforcement against restrictions that limit consumers’ right to repair, including the automotive industry. In a policy statement, the Commission reiterated its view that “providing more choice in repairs can lead to lower costs, reduce e-waste by extending the useful lifespan of products, enable more timely repairs, and provide economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and local businesses.”
The national survey was conducted Oct. 11-19, among 1,008 vehicle-owning voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.09% voters.