SEMA Emissions Lab Update

SEMA News—June 2016


By Amanda Gubbins

SEMA Emissions Lab Update

Member Companies Report Their Experiences

In addition to state-of-the-art testing equipment, the SEMA Garage owns some of the most popular test vehicles for members to use.

Last October, CARB issued a letter recognizing the SEMA Garage Emissions Compliance Center in Diamond Bar, California, as a Certification-Ready Automotive Emissions Testing Laboratory, making it possible for SEMA to assist members in all aspects of securing CARB and federal EPA emissions compliance.

“What that ultimately revolves around is assistance in obtaining CARB EOs,” said SEMA Garage Compliance Center Manager Peter Treydte.

Editor’s Note: Ensuring emissions compliance is important in the development process for companies making any product that could impact the emissions from a vehicle—including almost all engine-related products such as cold-air intakes, headers, superchargers, turbochargers and tuning devices. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO) process satisfies the legal requirements for aftermarket products in all 50 states and protects manufacturers from the hefty fines resulting from noncompliance. The SEMA Garage offers a selection of resources so that this process need not be a stumbling block to manufacturers of performance products.  

Treydte explained that the traditional certification process requires members to submit information to CARB for review. CARB then responds with a test letter prescribing the types of testing needed and which vehicles to use. Next, the member takes its products to a CARB-recognized lab for testing and submits the resulting data to CARB, which would ultimately issue an EO.

“The alternative method is what I refer to as the ‘SEMA program,’” Treydte said. “In that method, members bring their product information to the SEMA Compliance Center. I review the data with them, and we predetermine the testing that’s required. We verify that with CARB, and then we perform the testing and submit the data. So the key there is that we eliminate the need for a test letter from CARB, shortening the process.”

If members do not pass all of the tests at first, SEMA also has some resources to determine the source of the issue.

“If a member were to fail on its first attempt, we would have recommendations for some different styles of tests that it might perform with data acquisition that would be valuable to it,” he explained. “We refer to this as modal data, and what modal data does is show specifically where the emissions are elevated during the test. So once a member sees that, it can then evaluate the product to see if there’s a way to correct that.”

According to Treydte, another thing that sets SEMA’s lab apart is its state-of-the-art testing equipment—all of which is the most recent from Austrian manufacturer AVL. According to AVL’s website, it is the largest independent company dedicated to the development and testing of powertrain technology in the world.

Among the tools in the Garage are a 48-in. AVL-Zöllner 2WD emissions-testing chassis dynamometer, AVL iGEM CVS system, AVL i60 AMA Emissions bench with HC, NOx, CO, CO2 and CH4 analyzers, and an AVL iGEM Vehicle software suite for test-cell integration and control. SEMA also has some of the more popular test vehicles on hand, or the association can sometimes connect members with the owners of other makes and models when necessary.

Within six months of opening, the Compliance Center assisted more than 10 member companies in receiving either a CARB test letter or an EO. About half of these companies were new to the EO process. Treydte said that testing lasts one week per product in most cases, with SEMA-member prices ranging from $2,000–$5,000. Most members can expect to be accommodated within about three weeks.

Member Experiences

All of the testing equipment in the Emissions Lab is the latest from AVL, a world leader in powertrain development and testing.

Since the lab’s official opening, Mishimoto Automotive, a Delaware-based manufacturer of performance cooling products, has been taking advantage of the new resource.

“We’re designing and developing products that we know are socially responsible and are not harming the environment,” said Production Manager John Petty. “It’s important that we have the sign-off from CARB so that it also knows we are doing the right thing.”

Mishimoto was able to complete its entire application process through the SEMA Compliance Center, and it did so without staff having to leave Delaware. Petty said that many of SEMA’s resources were helpful in shortening the process.

“One of the important things for certification testing is that you have a vehicle that is in the correct engine family, has the correct amount of modifications or lack of modifications and mileage,” he said. “Working with the SEMA Garage that already has vehicles on hand really makes our lives a whole lot easier. It shortens that lead time and gets us the testing faster.”

Petty also said that working with SEMA made communications with CARB much easier.

“Peter and the team at the SEMA Garage have such a strong relationship with the team at the CARB facility that it really helps,” he said. “They’re able to communicate the information very quickly and clearly because they already understand what CARB is looking for and the format they like documentation to be in, presented in the right language that CARB is speaking.”

The PMAS division of VonWeise came to the Compliance Center with a brand-new product idea. President Kevin Hein and Vice President of Engineering Nick Wolgamott learned about emissions regulation changes discussed at a seminar hosted by the SEMA Garage at the 2015 SEMA Show. When they returned to their headquarters in Michigan, Wolgamott began working on a new concept—a device called the MAF-Xi that translates readings from modified air intakes so they can be used by the stock ECU to replicate stock engine emissions performance. After filing for a provisional patent, they knew the next step was to apply for an EO.

“We had no idea how to even approach getting a CARB EO,” said Wolgamott. “We had ideas about the required steps, but it was all done and served to us on a silver platter [by the SEMA Compliance Center], to make it short. It was really nice that everything was set up. They knew exactly what to do, they knew exactly what they needed from us, and it
was great.”

Hein said VonWeise is confident in the testing performed at the Garage and what it will mean for future product development.

“There are still some things we’re working on,” he said. “We got some hints while we were working in the emissions lab. There are still a lot of unknowns as we look at these new models of vehicles and the carbon traps and all that, but for our experience, it met our objectives. Hopefully, we get a CARB EO number. We’re really optimistic about that, because we think that creates a business case for a new product offering that doesn’t exist right now in the market.”

While visiting the SEMA Garage for testing, Hein and Wolgamott also made connections with other members and learned about available tools such as 3D printing, Tech Transfer and CMM scanning that they will be able to use in the future.

AVL’s iGEM Vehicle software suite is designed for test-cell integration and control. Testing usually takes about one week per product. The SEMA Garage team is available to answer questions and provide recommendations along the way.

In some cases, the SEMA Compliance Center can’t run tests for members. One example is diesel testing. The SEMA Emissions Lab will be equipped for it in the future but isn’t there yet. But the lab team is still available to provide assistance for companies specializing in diesel products, as in the case of S&S Diesel Motorsport.

Located in Michigan, the company manufactures and modifies diesel fuel-injection components. Treydte assisted with the preliminary paperwork and then connected the company with a lab that could complete the necessary testing.

Co-owner Greg Spoolstra shared, “I believe that, without Peter being in the middle, the process would have been much more difficult. We would have gotten to the same point, but it likely would have taken twice as much time and money.”

Spoolstra anticipates additional diesel emissions legislation as time passes and diesel motorsports continue to mature. That knowledge is what originally prompted the company to pursue its first EO—for a product designed to improve durability. Now that the company understands the process, it is working toward obtaining EOs for other products.

“Our background is in product development of fuel systems and engine-control systems,” Spoolstra said. “We leverage this knowledge to apply a little finesse to the diesel motorsports world. Being on the leading edge of emissions compliance gives us a technical advantage in the performance aftermarket.”

Most members can expect to be accommodated for testing within three weeks of contacting the Compliance Center.

Cobb Tuning is another company that sees emissions compliance as a responsibility—not only to steward the environment well but also to give customers confidence in their performance choices.

Evan Goldberg is the hard-parts engineer at Cobb’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. He was tasked last year with getting all of the company’s EOs up-to-date with current-model-year support and submitting applications for new product lines. Like other members around the country, Cobb was able to complete its entire testing regimen without making a trip to California. The company used a ’15 Mustang EcoBoost that is owned by the SEMA Garage for testing and submitted hardware and installation instructions for its products, which the SEMA Garage team installed before running the tests.

“Peter and the guys at the SEMA Garage are great to work with and have helped make this complicated process pretty straightforward, especially for people like me who work remotely,” said Goldberg.

Now a veteran of the SEMA program, Goldberg offered some advice to other SEMA members.


Accessing the Emissions Lab

To learn more about the SEMA Garage and the emissions-certification process, visit Contact Compliance Center Manager Peter Treydte at or 909-978-6673 to begin the testing process.


“Honestly I just would say pick up the phone and start the conversation with the team at the SEMA Garage,” he suggested. “Personally, I know what it feels like when you are first starting this task. It looks really big and daunting. However, with the experts at SEMA, you will gain a better understanding of the requirements and the steps that are necessary to successfully gain EO certification for your company’s products. With SEMA’s help, it becomes a totally manageable process. I think that as members of the performance community, it’s our duty to deliver the best products and services that we can to our customers. To Cobb, this means delivering the best performance and environmentally responsible products. I believe that working toward CARB/EO certification for our products is the right path to success.”

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