Biden right-to-repair action could benefit Tesla owners, EV economy

It doesn’t take long at all on the social media platform of your choice to find someone who’s happy with Tesla’s cars but upset about their service experience. Yet Tesla’s policies can prevent neighborhood garages from doing diagnostics or standard repairs. That could soon change, thanks to a federal right-to-repair directive. President Biden is expected […]

It doesn’t take long at all on the social media platform of your choice to find someone who’s happy with Tesla’s cars but upset about their service experience. Yet Tesla’s policies can prevent neighborhood garages from doing diagnostics or standard repairs.

That could soon change, thanks to a federal right-to-repair directive. President Biden is expected to direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to draft rules aimed at blocking manufacturers from hindering consumers’ ability to have products repaired at independent shops, or to work on items themselves, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

The FTC will determine the scope of the rules, but Biden’s directive is expected to specifically mention mobile phones and Defense Department contractors, according to the report. Tractors are also expected to be included (John Deere has been one flashpoint), creating a template for a national right-to-repair policy for cars.

Third parties are often prevented from working on tractors because manufacturers maintain control of diagnostic software and proprietary tools. Owners of newer cars face a similar situation, but Tesla has been particularly tough on independent repair shops.

2011 Tesla Roadster Sport. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

2011 Tesla Roadster Sport. Photo by Joe Nuxoll.

Those who tweak, tune, or merely open up propulsion systems for cleaning face actions from Tesla—like their car facing slower charging speeds.

On the other hand, Tesla shops had been relying on their own trial and error to keep Roadsters running due to lack of support from the company—although Tesla appears to have opened up more about these vehicles now.

Apple has faced some of the same scrutiny over the years, which might explain Tesla’s similar tactics. Tesla views itself as a tech company, not an automaker, and has specifically shadowed Apple, hiring away staff and implementing policies modeled on the electronics giant’s.

Massachusetts has led the way on vehicle right-to-repair protections, passing a right-to-repair law in 2012, and expanding that law last year to include data. Biden’s directive could pave the way for similar laws on the federal level.