SEMA News—June 2012
Global Legislation and Regulation Roundup
Specialty Parts Status Around the World
Below is a roundup of proposed or recently enacted legislative and regulatory developments affecting the specialty-equipment industry in key overseas markets. For more information on overseas developments, SEMA members are invited to contact SEMA Director of International and Government Relations Linda Spencer.
The State of Victoria has removed its ban on lift kits for 4x4 vehicles. Trucks with lift kits/wheel/tire combinations of no more than 75mm are allowed without the need for outside certification.
“Our high-profile wins on suspension, emissions (IM240) and bull bars, together with a change of government in some key states, has seen the transport regulators agenda of tightening up vehicle modifications grind to a halt,” Charity said. “In fact, we are starting to see momentum move the other way [i.e., relaxing of standards] in New South Wales, which was the biggest protagonist a few years ago.”
Among ongoing issues, the AAAA has been working with the Australian state of Victoria over two topics, including suspension upgrades for 4x4s and modifications for vehicles equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
The state of Victoria is now on record as stating that consumers can raise their 4WD vehicles up to 75mm (2.95-in.). A 50mm maximum is allowed for suspension lift plus a 25mm increase from the fitment of tires with 50mm greater outside diameter. The modifications must be undertaken using a commercially available lift kit that has been specially designed and tested for the vehicle.
Vehicles can be also be modified beyond the parameters outlined under VSB14, provided that the vehicle is inspected by an independent signatory engineer registered with Vicroads (the state road and traffic authority in Victoria) and the modification has been deemed to be safe.
Vehicle Modification on ESC-Fitted Vehicles
Vicroads also made significant AAAA-supported amendments to the section on modification of vehicles fitted with ESC. The regulation now allows for ESC-fitted vehicles to be modified, provided that testing is undertaken to determine that the modification does not adversely affect the operation of the ESC unit. The previous Vicroads position was that the wheels, tires, steering and suspension of vehicles fitted with ESC could not be modified without permission from the vehicle manufacturer. (It should be noted that these changes are only for vehicles registered in Victoria; however, other jurisdictions may take similar positions once they enact VSB 14 into their local regulations.)
Information on these developments as well as a review of all state laws are included in a new publication that Vicroads has released. It is entitled VSI 08 “Guide to Modifications for Motor Vehicles” and can be downloaded.
“While I understand that there is still plenty of ‘grey’ regarding vehicle modification of ESC-equipped vehicles in Victoria, the original position of Vicroads back in 2009 was that that the wheels, tires, steering and suspension of vehicles fitted with ESC could not be modified at all without permission from the vehicle manufacturer—so the current wording of the regulation is a big improvement on that,” Charity said.
Prior to 2008, vehicle modifications were officially not allowed in Brazil, according Eduardo Bernasconi, the founder of the new Brazilian Associacao Brasileira de Acessorios Automotivos (Brazilian Association of Automotive Accessories, or ABAA). Bernasconi said that the current rules, while still not fully transparent nor sufficiently stable or free of unnecessary restriction, represent an improvement of the situation from five years ago.
Consumers are allowed to lower their vehicles but must allow a minimum of 41cm (16.14-in.) from the ground, measured from the center of the headlights.
Air-ride suspension and coil-over kits are currently not allowed. The new ABAA specialty-equipment association has placed the opening of this segment of the market high on its agenda.
Resolution 291 allows Brazilian consumers to increase engine power by no more than 10%. Performance-enhancing products, such as exhaust systems, air intakes and superchargers are allowed. Once the desired upgrades are made, the owner is required to have the vehicle tested at the Division of Motor Vehicles or an approved testing agency. The vehicle is tested on a chassis dynamometer, and the results are compared with those of a stock model.
Unlike in the U.S., the new Brazilian requirements will mandate that not only will Brazilian wheel manufacturers and importers be required to test to these standards but will also be required to submit the wheels to outside testing and verification.
In a SEMA-supported development, the U.S. government announced recently that the U.S. and Chinese governments have agreed to include the legalization of the Chinese specialty-equipment market as part of high-level U.S.-Chinese government talks.
Chaired by U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, the members of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade held a meeting in Chengdu, China, November 20 and 21. Other participants included U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and representatives from the State and Treasury Departments. Senior Chinese officials from 23 ministries and agencies also attended.
Slated for discussion on the upcoming talks are the U.S. system for regulating the industry, to be used as a reference point while the Chinese government explores creating a legal framework in that country, as well as the current state of the industry and its market potential.
The United Arab Emirates
Sharjah, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, has suddenly begun to crack down on aftermarket exhaust systems deemed too noisy. Stakeholders in that market and the surrounding emirates are seeking a solution that would allow vehicle modifications that meet preset noise levels.