I rarely will comment on anything political, but in this case, I feel compelled; as a journalist in the field, I must speak up. There are some things happening around us in our world of the automotive aftermarket that are very concerning. I am sure there are some in the industry who did not see or hear about this, and I think that is what is so concerning.
On Feb. 8, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulation that would prohibit conversion of a vehicle originally designed for on-road use into race cars. The regulation also would make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal. The proposed regulation was contained within a non-related proposed regulation entitled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2.”
The regulation would impact all vehicle types, including the sports cars, sedans and hatchbacks commonly converted strictly for use at the track. While the Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to motor vehicles, it is clear that vehicles built or modified for racing, and not used on the streets, are not the “motor vehicles” that Congress intended to regulate.
Before you get too overheated, on March 10, 2016, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate introduced new bills (HR 4715 and SB 2659) that will clarify the Clean Air Act to explain it has always been legal to modify a street vehicle into a race car. Go ahead, breathe.
While this might not directly affect either the aftermarket distribution market or the collision repair market, it is a glaring example of what can slip into our world without being noticed. Of course, the original notion is distorted, but it was still proposed as a bill anyway. Probably due to some obscure special interest group’s best interest and not ours. With all the other political noise around at this time, the creators probably figured no one would notice and the law would pass and we would all realize it long after this fall’s elections.
Luckily, this industry has some very sharp associations and they are focused keenly on our friends in Washington. They found this legislation, jumped on an awareness campaign, got the White House to comment and got it stalled. Disaster averted!
My point here is we have things coming at us from places we never would have thought of. Awareness is a key business skill and it may even be critical to our survival. My advice is, stay involved and keep one eye on the horizon.