An almighty row has broken out over who should have access to all the data new cars generate. Manufacturers want to have control of it all, but independent repair shops, fleet operators, insurance companies and anyone else who could benefit from this data, argue that this would be blatantly anti-competitive. Policy wonks in the European Union are currently wrestling with the issue. Because it could mean that your car servicing costs become more expensive and you may have to pay more for other services that rely on such data, from independent repair centres to "pay-as-you-drive" insurance companies. Modern cars are effectively computers on wheels, full of sensors measuring everything from the wear and tear on your brake pads to your fuel efficiency.
Apple is planning to oppose a "Right to Repair" legislation introduced last month in the Nebraska legislature, Motherboard reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source within the legislature. The bill for the Fair Repair Act is aimed at ending the manufacturers' aftermarket monopoly, wherein only authorized service providers are allowed to carry out repairs. However, the right to repair movement, which has also gained cachet in the states of Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Kansas, Wyoming, Illinois and Tennessee -- has faced vehement opposition not just from Apple, but also from tractor manufacturer John Deere. The company argued in 2015 that allowing people to tinker with their software -- even if it's for the purpose of repair -- would "make it possible for pirates, third-party software developers, and less innovative competitors to free-ride off the creativity, unique expression and ingenuity of vehicle software designed by leading vehicle manufacturers." When the Nebraska bill is tabled for a hearing on March 9, Apple -- which has successfully lobbied against similar bills in other states -- is expected to argue, among other things, that allowing customers or independent mechanics to repair their own phones could cause the devices' lithium-ion batteries to catch fire.
Tesla just completed its first batch of Model 3s and 30 cars are scheduled to be in their owners' hands on the 28th. But with an estimated 400,000 orders waiting to be filled, Tesla's production ramp up is going to put many more Model 3s on the road in the very near future. In preparation for those added vehicles and the demand they're sure to put on Tesla service centers, the company is working to expand its service facilities. According to Tesla, it will be adding 100 new service centers, hiring 1400 more service technicians and tripling its service capacity worldwide. Remote diagnostic capabilities allow around 90 percent of potential car troubles to be identified outside of a service center and to address offsite issues, Tesla is adding over 350 service vans to its mobile fleet.
With the number of commercial drones expected to soar into the millions in the next few years, operators whose unmanned aircraft malfunction or crash will be looking for places to get them fixed. Some repair shops authorized by manufacturers to fix smaller drones are already having trouble keeping up with demand. For several weeks, a California company had a note posted on its website referring specifically to the Phantom drone: "Temporarily not accepting any new repairs at this time due to high volume. The message was recently removed. While such waits might be frustrating for operators, it spells opportunity for repair shops keen to diversify and budding drone mechanics who could start lucrative careers repairing commercial drones without having to pay for a four-year college degree.
Amid news of the iPhone 7 release and all its whizzy features, Apple announced that cracked-screen repairs would become considerably cheaper for purchasers of AppleCare, the iPhone insurance package. Cracked screens will cost 29 to repair, down from its previous price of 99 through the insurance program. The reduced repair cost is available only to those who have purchased AppleCare, which costs 129 for two years of coverage and includes up to two repairs stemming from user accidents. This lowered price extends to anyone who has purchased AppleCare in the past and has an iPhone 6 or beyond. Apple limits access to electronic parts and blueprints required to fix their products to Apple Genius stores and certified third-party repair shops.