NHTSA butts heads with Massachusetts right-to-repair law
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has told U.S. automakers not to comply with a Massachusetts law aiming to restore consumers’ right to repair their cars.
In 2020, a ballot initiative in Massachusetts required that vehicles with telematics systems be equipped with a standardized data platform that was open to owners and independent repair facilities. The initiative passed by a 3-1 margin and was supposed to begin with 2022 model-year vehicles and allow owners to shop around for vehicle repairs without being forced to rely on dealerships. However, due to security concerns, the NHTSA has told manufacturers, including General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Toyota, Rivian, and Volkswagen, not to comply. Reuters reported that the NHTSA is concerned that “open access to vehicle manufacturers’ telematics offerings with the ability to remotely send commands allows for manipulation of systems on a vehicle, including safety-critical functions such as steering, acceleration, or braking.”
This isn’t the first hiccup that Massachusetts car buyers have seen regarding this initiative, as Ford, GM, VW, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, and other manufacturers filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to block the law.
Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell has been pushing for automakers to step up and give access to their data, as mandated by the overwhelming majority of voters, despite resistance from automakers and, now, the NHTSA. Massachusetts surely won’t be alone in this battle for long. Considering how manufacturers don’t have a great reputation for keeping intrepid hot-rodders from hacking into ECUs, it seems only a matter of time before there are ways through OEM cybersecurity and consumers get their way.