How will the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturing Act Update Affect Turnkey Corvettes? Updated 1-1-2022: NEW SEMA EMISSIONS CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

UPDATE FEBRUARY 1, 2022: The new SEMA Certified-Emissions program gives manufacturers the ability to verify that a product meets the EPA’s “reasonable basis” criteria for sale in 49 states.

THE NEW SEMA EMISSIONS CERTIFICATION PROGRAM HELPS MANUFACTURERS GET PRODUCTS TO MARKET FASTER

The first-ever program meets EPA’s Tampering Policy requirements

DIAMOND BAR, Calif. (Feb. 1, 2022) – SEMA introduced a new program to make it possible for automotive aftermarket parts manufacturers to meet the legal requirement for emissions compliance under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tampering Policy. The program, called SEMA Certified-Emissions (SC-E), gives manufacturers the ability to verify that a product meets the EPA’s “reasonable basis” criteria and is therefore legal for sale in 49 states.

For the first time ever, manufacturers have a clear, accelerated path to compliance and can begin selling products legally in 49 states prior to receiving a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO), which is still a requirement for selling products in all 50 states.

“It’s now easier than ever for manufacturers to demonstrate emissions compliance,” said Mike Spagnola, SEMA VP of OEM & Product Development Programs. “SEMA Certified-Emissions is a major accomplishment in accelerating a manufacturer’s ability to get products to market, and it paves the path to obtaining emissions compliance in all 50 states.”

Since 2014, the SEMA Garage has been instrumental in helping automotive aftermarket parts manufacturers obtain CARB EOs. With state-of-the-art CARB-recognized testing equipment and dedicated expert staff conducting tests and assisting with the process, the SEMA Garage has helped secure more than 500 CARB EOs – over half of all performance parts EOs issued by CARB.

The new SC-E program is comparable to CARB EO requirements and was developed in response to the EPA’s Tampering Policy. SEMA staff will assess the manufacturer’s needs and advise as to the most appropriate path forward, whether that includes applying for a CARB EO or SEMA emissions certification.  SC-E may help manufacturers get to market about three months before obtaining a CARB EO. SC-E is also ideal for products that may not have a clear path in the CARB EO process (such as Flex-Fuel modifications, HCT equipped intakes, and engine packages).

“SC-E gives manufacturers much greater options and opportunities,” said Peter Treydte, SEMA Director of Emissions Compliance. “This is a significant milestone in the industry’s ability to provide products to consumers. We look forward to working with members and helping them go to market with SEMA Certified-Emissions products.”

The SEMA Garage is available to auto parts manufacturers with all their product development needs. For more information, visit www.sema.org.

Want a Brand-New Turnkey Replica Classic Corvette? There is an update to a law allowing companies to produce up to 325 low-volume replica cars per year.  Wayne Ellwood brings us up to date with the latest news and details.

Wikipedia…”The United States Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 (sometimes referred to as the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturing Act) directed the NHTSA to establish a program allowing low volume motor vehicle manufacturers to produce a limited number of vehicles annually within a regulatory system that addresses the unique safety and financial issues associated with a limited production, and to direct the EPA to allow low volume motor vehicle manufacturers to install engines from vehicles that have been issued certificates of conformity. 

The low volume provision will allow small automakers to construct up to 325 replica cars per year subject to federal regulatory oversight. The measure establishes a separate regulatory structure for replica car manufacturers…. in November 2018, SEMA threatened to file a lawsuit against the NHTSA if they did not comply with the law and issue the required regulations. In December 2019, the NHTSA released a document outlining the regulations, and in January 2021, the NHTSA issued a final ruling to allow low volume vehicle manufacturing.”
Turnkey Corvette Replica Classics
Turnkey Corvette Replica Classics

So, What Does This Mean?

For the actual manufacture of classic cars (more than 25 years old DeLoreans, Cobras, etc.), it has been a long wait for the many shops wanting to build turnkey replicas. Finally, and very quietly, the NHTSA approved the regulations to implement the 2015 legislation cited above. This was accomplished in January of this year (2021). If you’re like me, you missed it. I only caught on when Dave Kindig introduced his two CF1 concept cars at SEMA. They are probably the first recreations of the C1 1953-55 Corvette to be sold as turnkey vehicles. The word “turnkey” is critical to the several other shops waiting to get into the game as it improves their overall sales potential, almost certainly ensures they can be licensed and insured in all US states.

We all thought it was now clear sailing. But no. Apparently, there is one small hiccup…it has only recently been revealed that emission regulations remain a barrier. There do not seem to be any certified engine/driveline systems from any OEM or aftermarket manufacturer. For example, while GM’s E-Rod engine (2010) was thought to be a prime candidate for these new vehicles, GM has not re-certified this engine as required under the EPA and CARB regulations.

Turnkey Replica Classics

There are more shops than you might imagine who are affected. Off the top, these include the (new) DeLorean Motor Company, the Shelby Cobra group (and other Cobra replica manufacturers), Superformance, Hillbank, Allard, and Dynamic Corvettes in Saginaw (MI). Since I intend to emphasize the importance of this issue to the Corvette community, I’d like to say a few words about how this affects us….mostly as it relates to shops like Dynamic Corvettes in Michigan. This shop has a “big boy widebody” on tap and awaiting authority to call-in prospective customers.

Dynamic Corvette’s version of the C1 1957 incorporates a Roadster Shop chassis and a body enhanced to accommodate today’s larger people. Along the way, it includes tubbed wheels, modern drivelines, and it retains the convertible top for real cruising. This car was covered during its developmental stage in VETT EVUES, May 2020, so I won’t go on at length. But readers should be aware that this car is conceived to be affordable and offer the full range of conveniences. It is available in either carbon fiber or fiberglass. As conceived, it used an LS3 engine and an 8-speed auto trans combination. But this is the issue…isn’t it?

Photos are shown here show all components which can be produced in either fiberglass or carbon fiber. And, with only minor polishing, these are the carbon fiber items straight from the mold.

Building 1957 XL - Widebody by Dynamic Corvettes
Building 1957 XL – Widebody by Dynamic Corvettes
This project was conceived many years ago when Steve started talking to another gentleman at a local car show. This 1957 XL Corvette is the 2nd car out of mold...1st for sale body.
This project was conceived many years ago when Steve started talking to another gentleman at a local car show. This 1957 XL Corvette is the 2nd car out of mold…1st for sale body.
1957 XL Corvette Widebody by Dynamic Corvettes at the Goodguys Indianapolis show.
1957 XL Corvette Widebody by Dynamic Corvettes at the Goodguys Indianapolis show.
The 1957 XL Corvette widened interior shown here is in primer.
The 1957 XL Corvette widened interior shown here is in primer.
The C1 Corvette expanded dimensions allow for tubbed wheel wells and sufficient clearance to retain the folding canvass top. This is a major feature not provided by other custom shops.
The C1 Corvette expanded dimensions allow for tubbed wheel wells and sufficient clearance to retain the folding canvass top. This is a major feature not provided by other custom shops.
Cut-outs for expanded wells shows how much space was achieved.
Cut-outs for expanded wells shows how much space was achieved.
The enhanced dimensions for tubbed wheel wells also permits custom-fitted storage, in this case, a cooler.
The enhanced dimensions for tubbed wheel wells also permits custom-fitted storage, in this case, a cooler.
The 1957 XL Corvette's soft top frame is being fitted.
The 1957 XL Corvette’s soft top frame is being fitted.
Happy Corvette owner cruising...
Happy Corvette owner cruising…
Chassis and full dress-up panels reveal the 1957 XL Widebody Corvette by Dynamic Corvette's full resto-mod intent.
Chassis and full dress-up panels reveal the 1957 XL Widebody Corvette by Dynamic Corvette’s full resto-mod intent.
The Corvette has the GM crate LS3 with a 8-speed automatic transmission in it.
The Corvette has the GM crate LS3 with a 8-speed automatic transmission in it.
The widebody 1957 Corvette interior reveals full length console and other updates
The widebody 1957 Corvette interior reveals full length console and other updates
There are multiple splices to widen the dash.
There are multiple splices to widen the dash.
The driver seat is designed by Wise Guys.
The driver seat is designed by Wise Guys.
The outer view of the driver’s door reveals new power windows and door poppers, by Electric Life. On the inside, the 57 XL will provide an armrest, door pull, and manual door release.
The outer view of the driver’s door reveals new power windows and door poppers, by Electric Life. On the inside, the 57 XL will provide an armrest, door pull, and manual door release.
Steve Snow with his 1957 XL Widebody Corvette.
Steve Snow with his 1957 XL Widebody Corvette.
Big Boys line up to try-on the 1957 XL Corvette.
Big Boys line up to try-on the 1957 XL Corvette.

But, back to the recent hang-up…

Apparently, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is responsible for clean air in California and other states that adopt its standards, says no engines are currently legal for this application. CARB says any engine put in a “new” build or a restored older car not using the original components (i.e., period-correct parts are legally available in that time period) must meet today’s current emission standards. That means if a car (replica car) is manufactured in 2021, it must meet 2021 model year requirements. It must be exactly as manufactured by the OEM. Variations, no matter how insignificant, would require recertification.

You can read Autoweek’s full update on this issue at the link below:

https://www.autoweek.com/news/industry-news/a35377165/low-volume-manufacturers-law-engines/

Naturally, this has taken everyone back. On the positive side, Autoweek says that SEMA is already active with the regulators and has indicated that, under the legislative process, the NHTSA and the EPA have one year to issue regulations to implement the new program. So, everyone is trying to get this worked out.

Here’s a link to the SEMA info on this recent development:     

https://www.semasan.com/legislative-alerts/national/new-federal-law-enables-hobbyists-purchase-turnkey-replica-cars

Meanwhile, I’m rooting for Dynamic Corvettes. Their upfront investment has been immense, and they’re ready to move forward.

About the Author: Wayne Ellwood is an automotive journalist and is a regular contributor to Vette Vues Magazine.

Check out our LATEST BLOG POSTS for more great reading!

SHARE YOUR COMMENTS FOR THE NHTSA FINAL RULING FOR LOW VOLUME MANUFACTURERS ACT

CALL NOW