NHTSA Issues Draft Replica Car Rule

Dec 26, 2019

Responding to the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s (SEMA) lawsuit to allow production of replica vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued proposed regulations to implement the 2015 Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act. SEMA sued the U.S. Department of Transportation last October for failure to issue required regulations.

“SEMA welcomes NHTSA’s proposed regulations and urges the agency to quickly finalize the rules,” said SEMA President and CEO Christopher J. Kersting. “The replica car law was enacted to much fanfare in 2015, with customers eager to buy classic cars celebrating America’s automotive heritage. Four years later, companies are now poised to hire workers, gear up for production, and provide consumers the chance to buy turnkey replica cars.”

Prior to enactment of the replica car law, the U.S. had just one system for regulating automobiles, which was established in the 1960s and designed for companies that mass-produce millions of vehicles. The lack of regulatory flexibility has prevented small businesses from manufacturing turnkey vehicles. The final regulations will allow low volume automakers to sell up to 325 cars each year that resemble production vehicles manufactured at least 25 years ago. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have issued guidelines and regulations covering the engine packages to be installed in these replica vehicles.

NHTSA is providing 30 days for public comments on its proposed rule. SEMA will be submitting comments on behalf of the industry to urge the most favorable regulations so that companies can begin production.