Maine has overwhelmingly voted to pass the Automotive Right to Repair Act referendum, Portland Press Herald reports.
With 68% of votes counted, 84% of voters have approved Question 4. The Associated Press had already called the race with 45% of votes counted.
The citizen’s initiative faced ire from auto manufacturers, represented by a trade group called the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. The organization donated $110,000 to a political action committee called Automakers and Repairers for Vehicle Repair Choice in an attempt to sway the vote.
Tommy Hickey, director of the Maine Automotive Right to Repair Coalition, plans to sit with Maine’s attorney general to discuss how to implement the law.
However, it could still face some trouble, with opponents calling on the legislature to reconsider it. With it having originally gone before a committee as a bill, legislators will have the ability to amend it.
O’Reilly Auto Parts, Genuine Parts Co., Autozone and Advance Auto Parts altogether donated a total of $2,500,000 to the Maine Automotive Right to Repair Committee. Alliance for Automotive Innovation President and CEO John Bozzella argued that Question 4 was a ploy for big aftermarket companies to use vehicle telematics data for advertising.
Shop owners such as Voit Ritch, owner of an independent repair shop in Freeport, worry that the response from automakers will result in them ripping away any access to data.
“I have everything I need, now,” said Ritch. “Why would I take the chance of losing? I’d rather not have a question mark.”
However, for Gabby Profenno, an independent repair shop owner in Lisbon, her business couldn’t afford to continue under the preexisting structure that required her to rely on manufacturer subscriptions.
The passage of the vote goes beyond just Maine, with Auto Care Association President and CEO Bill Hanvey recognizing it as a reflection of the traction right-to-repair legislation is gaining across the country.
“The right to repair is one of a few unifying issues our nation faces, and whether we achieve repair access chamber by chamber or state by state, I am confident that every American will soon have the fundamental right to repair what belongs to them,” said Hanvey. “Right to repair isn’t going away and this victory demonstrates that it’s an issue that needs to be resolved.”