One of the more controversial topics in the world of automobiles over the last couple of years pertains to right to repair laws, which were thrust into the spotlight back in 2020 when Massachusetts residents voted to approve a measure requiring that cars sold in the state starting with the 2022 model year come equipped with a standardized open access data platform that would allow mechanics and independent repair shops to access that data for diagnostics and repairs with only owner permission, as opposed to the manufacturer permission that’s required now. Automakers including Ford have opposed such measures, claiming that placing so much critical data in one location puts it at great risk. However, President Joe Biden recently threw his support behind right to repair laws, according to Vice.
“Too many areas, if you own a product, from a smartphone to a tractor, you don’t have the freedom to choose how or where to repair that item you purchased,” Biden said during a cabinet meeting this week. “It’s broke. Well, what do I do about it if it’s broke, you had to go to the dealer and you had to pay the dealer’s cost, the dealer’s price. If you tried to fix it yourself, some manufacturers actually would void the warranty.”
Biden added that he was “pleased to see the Federal Trade Commission unanimously announced that it would ramp up enforcement against illegal repair restrictions. Folks will be able to repair their phones and laptops themselves, although I’m not sure I know how to do that. Whenever I have a problem with my phone I call my daughter. But it’s going to make it easy for millions of Americans to repair their electronics instead of paying an arm and a leg to repair or just throwing a device out.”
Biden is referring specifically to electronics and tractors – the latter of which have been in the spotlight recently as John Deere has introduced more electronics into the traditional farm equipment. However, Biden’s executive order, signed last year, directs the Federal Trade Commission to create right to repair rules that can be enforced against anti-competitive practices, which could also impact the automotive industry.