Last week, Ford Authority reported on a new proposed bill in the state of West Virginia that posed a serious threat to the future of Ford OTA updates by effectively banning owners from receiving those updates, instead forcing them to take their vehicles to a dealer for that particular service. The lobby group Alliance for Automotive Innovation (AAI) – which counts Ford and a number of other automakers among its members – strongly opposed the bill and vowed to fight it, and those efforts have apparently paid off, as the provision that aimed to prohibit customers from receiving over-the-air updates has been removed from bill HB 4560.
The contested provision originally read “a manufacturer or distributor may not … cause warranty and recall repair work to be performed by any entity other than a new motor vehicle dealer, including post-sale software and hardware upgrades or changes to vehicle function and features, and accessories for new motor vehicles sold by a licensed new motor vehicle dealer. Provided, however, this language shall not include any post-sale software upgrades to the motor vehicle’s navigation or entertainment system.”
The revised version of the bill now reads “a manufacturer or distributor may not … cause warranty and recall repair work to be performed by any entity other than a new motor vehicle dealer.” This is good news for West Virginia-based owners that enjoy being able to install Ford OTA updates in the comfort of their own driveway or garage, but AAI still argues that other parts of the bill aim to protect dealer interests at the expense of vehicle owners.
“Over the air updates allow consumers to update their vehicles from the convenience of their driveways,” the lobby group said in a statement. “We are pleased that the Committee removed HB 4560’s prohibition on manufacturers offering those features to consumers. However, there continue to be unreasonable ideas in that bill which would negatively impact consumers such as a prohibition on reserving vehicles, targeted customer incentives, and more.”
Ford’s “Power-Up” over-the-air software updates – which began rolling out in the 2021 Ford F-150 and 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E last year – have been very popular with owners thus far. The automaker expects to have over 32 million OTA-capable vehicles on the road by 2028 and believes that those updates will go a long way in extending product cycles and make frequent mid-cycle refreshes obsolete later on down the road, while also providing a way to quickly address potential safety concerns as well.