|Congress enacted a law with a SEMA provision exempting low-production volume tires from a fuel efficiency rating system.|
SEMA responded to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) proposal to establish a tire fuel efficiency rating system, recommending that the agency provide an exemption from reporting requirements for limited-production tire manufacturers. A law enacted by Congress contains a SEMA provision exempting from the rating system those tires that have been produced or imported in annual units of less than 15,000, and do not exceed 35,000 tires in total brand name production.
The NHTSA included the SEMA provision in the program, but asked whether it should require reporting data so that the agency could identify the tires for which the low-volume exemption was claimed. SEMA countered that such a paperwork burden was unnecessary.
SEMA noted that the exemption primarily applies to specialty tires produced for classic and antique vehicles and for some off-highway vehicles. The tires can be easily identified by NHTSA and consumers simply on basis of appearance, application and retail outlet. SEMA emphasized that a reporting requirement would run counter to the intent of the law which recognizes that small-volume tire producers are small businesses and ensures that the specialty tires would continue to be available to the consumer.
SEMA explained that consumers would not be seeking fuel efficiency ratings for tires installed on vehicles that are generally used for exhibitions, parades and demonstrations, and are otherwise infrequently driven.
With respect to mass-produced replacement tires, tire manufacturers would be required to rate the tires for fuel efficiency, safety, and durability based on performance tests established by NHTSA. Tire retailers would display a NHTSA-provided tire fuel efficiency consumer information poster.
Manufacturers and retailers that have websites would need to link to a tire website that NHTSA would develop as part of a national tire maintenance consumer education program. NHTSA is required to issue a final rule by December 2009 and manufacturers would then have one year to meet all of the rule’s requirements.
Questions: contact Stuart Gosswein.