Emissions Compliance: Obstacles…and Opportunity

SEMA News—January 2016


Emissions Compliance: Obstacles…and Opportunity

Chris KerstingThe 2015 SEMA Show has come and gone, and we’re pleased to report that thousands of companies once again took advantage of this annual gathering to set themselves up for a productive 2016.

Among the many seminars and presentations at the Show, one of the most significant sessions took place Thursday, when the SEMA Garage hosted a seminar focusing on emissions compliance. This is a topic of vital importance for hundreds of SEMA-member manufacturers, and it also affects distributors, retailers and installers.

The situation is in some respects straightforward: It is illegal to manufacture, sell, offer for sale or install a part that is emissions-related if that part is not certified as emissions-compliant. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require certification of compliance for emissions-related parts­—what is required in California is required in the 49 other states.

A CARB Executive Order (EO) serves as valid emissions certification to satisfy both CARB and the EPA for sales in all states. Absent an EO, the agencies have the ability to levy fines against manufacturers, resellers and installers of emissions-related products that are not certified. These fines can be substantial enough to cripple a business.

CARB and the EPA recently fined a number of manufacturers and distributors of performance products. One outcome is that the distributors involved are no longer willing to sell products that lack an EO.

With the above in mind, the SEMA Board of Directors approved and funded the new SEMA Emissions Compliance Center—a facility to help SEMA manufacturers achieve compliance in an efficient manner.

The SEMA Emissions Compliance Center is recognized by CARB as a Certification-Ready Automotive Emissions Testing Laboratory, capable of providing EPA/CARB emissions-test results for gasoline-fueled vehicles. It has been set up to assist manufacturers in developing marketable emissions-compliant products and securing the necessary CARB EOs.

To make the process easier, faster and less expensive, SEMA has put together a streamlined path for achieving emissions compliance. For example, we now offer access to expert staff who can walk you through the process, from the basics of sorting out whether a part requires compliance and completing paperwork to dynamometer lab testing and navigating red tape with CARB staff.

Not surprisingly, the delays associated with obtaining a CARB EO are often related to incomplete applications or insufficient information. SEMA can help with this by assisting in the preparation of your applications as a member service.

Additionally, SEMA can inquire on your behalf as to the status of an application. Each case is unique, but SEMA is continually making efforts to expedite the process overall.

In some situations, gaining certification might be easier than you think. One test letter can sometimes cover multiple part numbers, allowing the cost to be distributed. And because a CARB EO is recognized by the EPA, the product is legal for sale in all 50 states.

Keep in mind also that the SEMA Emissions Compliance Center is equipped with state-of-the-art testing and data capabilities that will reveal and resolve problem areas. Test work at the SEMA Emissions Compliance Center is less of a cost burden because of special rates for SEMA members. And SEMA members get priority status for lab time.

Finally, consider for a moment that having an EO can provide a competitive advantage when selling through distribution nationwide. Compliance can be a challenge, but for those who address it head on, the SEMA Garage can help turn an obstacle into an opportunity.

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