Several right to repair issues have plagued the automotive landscape in recent years. In short, new car dealerships want exclusive access to repair modern vehicles. The controversy is that it forces vehicle owners to go to the dealership instead of giving them a choice for their auto repair needs. However, the latest legislative battle obliges Car manufacturers to dealers.

A bill was recently introduced at the West Virginia House that, among other things, could significantly limit how manufacturers handle over-the-air updates on newer vehicles. HB 4570 was submitted on February 7 with bipartisan sponsorship, establishing various aspects of dealer-automaker relationships. The entire 44-page bill can be viewed on the West Virginia Legislature website, but we are particularly interested in this section beginning at line 242, describing what a manufacturer or distributor does can’t do.

“With the exception of low-volume non-retail experimental vehicles, have warranty repair and recall work performed by anyone other than a new motor vehicle dealer, including software upgrades and aftermarket hardware or changes in vehicle function and specifications, and new motor vehicle accessories sold by a licensed new motor vehicle dealer, however, this wording does not include software upgrades service of the navigation or entertainment system of the motor vehicle.

The key phrase in there is aftermarket software and hardware upgrades. According to clean technique, this wording effectively prohibits automakers from offering OTA updates directly to vehicle owners. This could include everything from minor tweaks on power window speeds to more critical features such as adjustments to driver assistance systems and safety equipment. Curiously, the bill does not include updates to entertainment or navigation systems.

clean technique says the bill was introduced by a trade association of dealers and would “harm both customers and dealers by blocking online car purchases, over-the-air updates and even manufacturer advertising automobiles”. Besides, clean technique received a letter from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation that was further critical of the bill, saying it could lead to potential security issues by preventing simple updates from reaching drivers in a timely manner. For an automaker like Tesla that doesn’t have a traditional dealership network, this would effectively eliminate any vehicle updates as is.

Both clean technique and the Automotive Innovation Alliance call the bill an overshoot by dealers, while stopping short of addressing the potential financial implications. To this end, line 140 of the bill includes language stating that manufacturers must “provide to the new motor vehicle dealer an amount equal to the retail parts mark-up for that part or component, which shall be calculated by multiplying the dealer’s cost for the component part or component as listed in the manufacturer’s price schedule by the retail parts markup percentage. »

This applies to parts or components provided free of charge to dealers by the manufacturer, but it’s unclear how this might relate to software updates.

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