The Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 was voted on last December by Congress as a piece of The Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, allows small companies to create and sell replicas of classic cars without subjecting them to the pricey safety and emissions tests the major automakers’ vehicles must undergo. Under this new law, registered companies would be allowed to produce and sell just over 300 finished cars in the U.S. each year.
The bipartisan bill, technically referred to as H.R. 2675, was co-sponsored by Reps. Mark Mullin (R-Okla.) and Gene Green (D-Texas), and the non-profit organization Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) supports it. SEMA represents interests of the aftermarket parts and vehicle kit industries.
H.R. 2675 requires that all engines installed in new replica and kit cars are modern engines that have already been certified by their manufacturers for meeting current emissions standards, although they are exempt from fuel economy ratings. Randall Dodge of Henderson, TX also explains that they also must meet many other federal safety regulations applicable to automobile manufacturing, such as those for brake hoses, windshields, tires, etc. Replica cars do not need to be labeled in regards to their country of origin.
Stuart Gosswein, SEMA’s senior director of government affairs, said previous tries at creating a broader definition of vehicle compositions faced opposition from some of the major automakers. They only wanted the bill to allow car designs from the past. As a result, a curious part of this bill requires the vehicles to be exact “clone” replicas of existing classic vehicles that are at least 25 years old. In other words, they’re not meant to be unique, modern car designs.
According to SEMA, H.R. 2675 establishes its own structure within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for replica vehicle manufacturers. Replica companies are required to sign up with NHTSA and EPA and send in annual reports on the vehicles produced. Their vehicles are required to meet present model-year emissions standards, although companies are permitted to put in engines from other EPA-certified vehicles to help achieve that requirement. These vehicles need a permanent label affixed to them to tell people which model year the car is supposed to “copy.”
Owners of these types of vehicles need to continue to have state titles and registrations for their vehicles. All of these vehicles still need a federal Vehicle Identification Number.
Gosswein predicts the impact on the auto industry will be small at first, eventually accounting for only about 1,500 cars a year, but that number could create hundreds of jobs nationwide. Long term, of course, this bill should help cause hundreds of other small start-up companies to emerge and thousands of jobs throughout the nation to open up.
If vehicle buyers prefer to work from a kit, then they will still have that option available to them because this new law does not take that away. So get ready for more classic cars could be hitting the road soon – cars that strongly resemble classics, that is.
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