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NHTSA Issues Final Ruling for Low Volume Manufacturers Act

NHTSA issues final rule on the low volume car act

By Dean Larson

We’ve been talking about the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act since 2015, as this landmark piece of legislation aims to finally provide a legal avenue for companies to sell completed replica vehicles to the public. Despite numerous setbacks, convoluted terms and endless bureaucratic delays, we’re finally there — or nearly there anyway — as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finally issued its final rule that will allow the law to take effect.

For a quick summary, Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015 paved a way for low volume manufacturers (those who build fewer than 5,000 vehicles annually) to build or import 325 turnkey replica vehicles per year. Built to resemble a vehicle made at least 25 years ago, these replica vehicles will be subject to intellectual property rights and EPA/CARB emissions regulations, but get a pass on certain NHTSA safety standards that old cars simply cannot meet. The program also provides a reporting system for companies to record with NHTSA what vehicles they’ve sold in a year and how they’re outfitted. (See our initial coverage of the LVMVMA for a complete rundown)

The legislation has been bogged down ever since though, as NHTSA didn’t issue its regulatory documents until early January of 2020, falling far behind the original 12-month timeline. From there, SEMA was able to work with NHTSA further to create agreeable and sensible revisions to the document, and now, its final rule has been published.

“SEMA applauds NHTSA’s final rule allowing companies to market classic-themed cars,” said SEMA President and CEO Christopher J. Kersting. “Regulatory barriers have previously prevented small automakers from producing heritage cars for eager customers. The roadblocks have been eliminated. Companies will be able to hire workers, start making necessary parts and components, and produce and sell cars.”

SEMA notes that NHTSA’s final ruling was signed and sent to the federal register on January 15, but has not been officially published yet given the change in administration. While a huge delay is not expected, it could take up to 60 days.

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