Low Volume Carmaker Grows Impatient with Slow-Moving NHTSA Regulations

U.S. Congress in December 2015 passed a law allowing low volume auto manufacturers to produce up to 325 replica vehicles per year for sale in the U.S.

Now, almost three years later, manufacturers are still waiting for the government to hold up its end of the deal. Lance Stander, CEO of Superformance, a company that manufactures iconic American cars from the 1960s, was a driving force behind the bill-dubbed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Now Stander wants the government to follow through on missed deadlines.

The FAST Act stipulated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had until December 2016 to create any necessary regulations and to implement the replica vehicle law. As such, Superformance and other replica car companies invested heavily in supplier contracts, real estate, and tooling to ramp up production. The implementation of the law is now more than a year-and-a-half overdue.

Despite pressure from Congress, NHTSA has failed to issue a rule or a timeline on when it will act, putting manufacturing jobs on hold, leaving customers frustrated and small businesses losing millions of dollars, according to Stander.

“When Congress passed the bill back in 2015, we thought this was the last piece of the puzzle we had been waiting for,” he said. “Little did we know we would be playing a waiting game with the government for nearly three years.

Superformance and other replica car companies thought that by 2017 they would be selling their vehicles in record numbers, but instead production is nonexistent.”

There is debate as to whether any regulations are even necessary since the law is limited only to companies that sell less than 5,000 vehicles a year worldwide and focuses on new continuation versions of vintage vehicles, according to Superformance. The replica cars must be environmentally friendly and meet the current model year clean engine standards set by the EPA. The agency is currently putting the final touches on the procedures allowing clean engine installations.

“It is unacceptable that this delay is precluding replica car manufacturers from starting production,” Stander added. “The work to be done by NHTSA is very simple: Create a form allowing companies to register online and file annual reports. Such electronic paperwork is already in place for large scale car manufacturers.

“When the law passed, we began tooling up for increased production-we secured a new facility and hired more staff. Several other specialty car builders did the same-now we’re all on hold waiting, and the wait will not only cost us sales and jobs, it also hurts the hundreds of parts manufacturers that supply the carmakers. Jobs are at stake here.”

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