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FTC Report to Congress Strongly Supports Expanding Consumers’ Repair Options

Date: May 10, 2021

Washington D.C. – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report to Congress identifying anti-competitive repair restrictions, parts limitations, and inaccessible software, including specifically in the vehicle aftermarket repair and maintenance industry. The report notes that, “there is scant evidence to support [original equipment] manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions.” The FTC findings are in lockstep with the position of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (“MEMA”), and its aftermarket-focused divisions, the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (“AASA”), and The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing (“MERA”).
 
Key takeaways from the report include:

  1. “The record contains no empirical evidence to suggest that independent repair shops are more or less likely than authorized repair shops to compromise or misuse customer data.”

  2. “To address unlawful repair restrictions, the FTC will pursue appropriate law enforcement and regulatory options, as well as consumer education, consistent with our statutory authority.”

  3. “The Commission also stands ready to work with legislators, either at the state or federal level, in order to ensure that consumers have choices when they need to repair products that they purchase and own.”

  4. “In some instances, a manufacturer’s use of a repair restriction could be challenged as an unfair practice under Section 5 of the FTC Magnuson Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”)”

  5. “The Commission could revise its Interpretations of the MMWA to make clear that certain repair restrictions could violate MMWA’s anti-tying provisions.”

 The report was approved unanimously by the 4 current FTC Commissioners.
 
“The FTC’s findings make clear what the aftermarket has long maintained – vehicle repairs often require specialized tools, difficult-to-obtain parts and access to proprietary diagnostic software,” said Paul McCarthy, President, AASA.  “This makes it needlessly onerous for many consumers to acquire necessary vehicle repairs. The aftermarket industry is committed to ensuring that consumers continue to have access to reliable, safe, affordable repair choices to maintain their vehicles. We thank the FTC for their work in completing this investigation and report, and we look forward to working with them and Congress to enact policies to protect consumers.
 
“This report clearly shows that the work by MEMA and the aftermarket industry to fight for data access is truly in the best interest of consumers,” said MERA President and COO John Chalifoux. “It’s clear that federal legislation is warranted, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to protect consumer choice and block repair restrictions.”
 
MEMA, AASA, and MERA will continue to work with the automotive aftermarket industry to put in place the legislation and institutions and necessary to ensure we can implement appropriate access to vehicle telematics repair data. We remain committed to securing our industry’s future and the safety of the nation's 282 million vehicles in operation. We will continue to focus on the needs of the industry as a whole and the safety and rights of consumers as we chart a path forward.  
 
About MEMA
Since 1904, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) has been the voice of the automotive and commercial vehicle supplier industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the United States. Across the entire range of new vehicle innovation—from autonomous to zero-emissions technologies—vehicle suppliers are leading the way. Our member companies conceive, design and manufacture the original equipment systems and technologies that make up two-thirds of the value in every vehicle. Member companies also supply the aftermarket with the parts that keep millions of vehicles on the road, fueling international commerce and society’s need for transportation. And all of our members’ work is done with a focus on public safety and the environment.

We live in a fast-paced industry and world, and MEMA is committed to making both a better place to work and live. We foster a respectful, diverse and collaborative community. We are stronger together because we promote inclusion in all aspects of the vehicle supplier industry.

MEMA is the parent organization of four market segment divisions: Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA), MERA – The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing, and Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA). MEMA has offices in Southfield, Mich., Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Washington, D.C. Learn more about our organization, our members and the great vehicle supplier community at MEMA.org.
 
About AASA
The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) connects suppliers of aftermarket parts, chemicals, tools, diagnostics, and technologies to what matters – including industry analysis, peer forums, customer and technology trends, global insights, and government advocacy. Since 1904, AASA’s sole purpose is championing the North American aftermarket industry and advocating for the growth of a profitable, innovative, and influential supplier community. Learn more about how AASA connects members to what matters at aftermarketsuppliers.org.
 
About MERA
MERA - The Association for Sustainable Manufacturing is the remanufacturing and sustainability division of MEMA. With roots in the transportation industry, MERA represents the interests of the broader remanufacturing community across multiple industry sectors. The organization is a network of manufacturers, suppliers, universities, and professional services firms that promotes the economic, environmental, and product performance benefits of remanufacturing and similar forms of sustainable manufacturing. MERA is the home of Manufactured Again Certification, where remanufacturing passes the same international quality tests as new manufacturing. The program—based on ISO 9001 and IATF 16949— also promotes corporate social responsibility, particularly environmental stewardship. 3 Learn more about MERA and Manufactured Again Certification at MERA.org and ManufacturedAgain.com.

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