FROM MIKE SPAGNOLA
Working Toward a Cleaner Future That Works for Everybody
By Mike Spagnola, SEMA President and CEO
Some of the association's activities are immediately visible, tangible efforts—events such as the annual SEMA Show. Other long-range investments and initiatives unfold over longer time frames and across multiple leadership changes. These might be harder to discern, but they are no less significant.
Among those initiatives would be the work the association is doing to help companies achieve compliance with federal, state and local emissions as regulations. The work is ongoing across multiple fronts, including emissions certification, alternative propulsion development, and policy advocacy.
SEMA Garage emissions labs enable members to develop products that function properly without compromising a vehicle's emissions status, and to demonstrate compliance more cheaply and quickly than most outside labs. Both facilities—located in Diamond Bar, California and Plymouth, Michigan—are staffed by technicians using state-of-the-art test equipment capable of replicating the specific test procedures required by the EPA and California regulators.
Along with helping members through the process of obtaining a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO), the garages can conduct "SEMA Certified-Emissions" testing that meets EPA "reasonable basis" tampering policy criteria. The SEMA Certified-Emissions testing process has been ramping up since January 2022, offering an accelerated path to compliance with federal regulations and allowing products to be legally sold in 49 states prior to, or in place of, receiving the CARB EO. In most cases, test data gathered in the SEMA Certified process can also be used for obtaining a CARB EO that would make it legal in all 50 states. Importantly, SEMA Certified testing also creates a path to compliance for products that fall outside of currently existing CARB test procedures, such as air intakes with carbon traps, or flex-fuel systems.
On another front, the association is working to facilitate the advancement of companies offering zero-emissions propulsion systems. Currently there is concentrated activity around electric vehicles, but the goal is to support alternative powertrain technologies across the spectrum, including EV, hybrid, fuel cell hydrogen, and alternative fuels for internal combustion engines.
Most recently, SEMA has worked with companies that have developed EV conversion kits to make regulators aware that converting a vehicle to electric propulsion should not be hindered, but rewarded. Last February a SEMA-sponsored bill was introduced to create a financial rebate program for converting gas- and diesel-powered motor vehicles into zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs). The legislation, which will have to progress through multiple committees before passage, would make a rebate available to those who make this conversion. ZEV conversions, a rapidly growing market, preserve California's diverse and deep-rooted car culture while helping the state meet its ambitious climate goals.
This legislation also creates a level playing field by including a rebate for converted vehicles and not just for new EV purchases that are often out of financial reach for many Californians.
It was more than a decade ago that SEMA leaders made investments to help member companies solve challenges associated with emissions regulations. They knew it would take years for those investments to pay off—and that progress might be difficult to discern at first. But today, those initiatives are making a tangible difference. World-class SEMA Garage facilities now offer the industry pathways toward a cleaner future that works for everybody. To find out about how to tap into garage programs, visit semagarage.com.