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June 16, 2020  |  Written by Alyson E. Ackerman

Aftermarket Vehicle Parts Industry: CARB Considers Updating Its 30-Year Old Procedures for Exemptions to Aftermarket Parts

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is conducting a remote public hearing on July 23, 2020 at 9:00 a.m., to consider adopting “Procedures for the Exemption of Add-On and Modified Part(s) for On-Road Vehicles/Engines” (Proposed Procedures), which will update the 1990 procedures under which manufacturers receive exemptions from state law, allowing the marketing, selling, and/or installing of aftermarket parts.  CARB intends the Proposed Procedures to streamline the aftermarket product exemption process by clarifying the scope of information and testing required upon filing.  Such changes are expected to result in quicker application processing, allowing aftermarket products to go to market faster.

Vehicle Code section 27156, subdivision (c) (Section 27156(c)) prohibits the installation, sale, or advertisement of aftermarket parts that alter or modify the original design or performance of a vehicle’s pollution control device or system.  Aftermarket parts are components or devices on a vehicle or engine that were not in the vehicle or engine when it was originally certified for sale in California.  Examples of aftermarket parts include air intake kits to increase a vehicle’s airflow and horsepower, or intercooler kits to supercharge or turbocharge an engine.  CARB will exempt aftermarket parts from Section 27156(c) after the manufacturer demonstrates that the product does not reduce the effectiveness of required emission control devices, or affect on-board diagnostic systems.

The Proposed Procedures eliminate the form applications required by the current procedures, providing in their place a list of the information a manufacturer must include in an application.  The information required depends on the exemption “category” sought.  For example, Category 1 applies to manufacturers that have an existing exemption and are requesting relatively minor changes, such as adding part numbers, changing the name of an exempt add-on part, or adding a vehicle model-year to a carryover exemption.  Category 2 applies to manufacturers requesting an exemption for an air intake kit (or modifications made to the stock air intake system), while categories 3-9 apply to various other aftermarket products.  CARB anticipates that the new category/part-specific applications may increase the total number of applications manufacturers must submit to receive exemptions for their entire product line.  This change may burden some members of the industry more than others.

The Proposed Procedures specify evaluation criteria for an exemption application, including the impact of the aftermarket product on the vehicle’s drivability and performance, durability, and on-board diagnostic system.  In addition, the Proposed Procedures allow manufacturers to declare the method by which their aftermarket product’s emissions compliance will be evaluated.  The two methods are a comparison against applicable emission standards, or a comparative emissions testing between the as-built original manufacturer configuration and the aftermarket product configuration (i.e., baseline versus modified emissions).

Interested members of the public are encouraged to submit written comments (by post or electronic portal), which must be received by July 20, 2020.  CARB will also accept oral or written comments submitted during the July 23, 2020 remote hearing.  Address written comments to: Clerks’ Office, California Air Resources Board, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California 95814.  Submit electronic comments here.

CARB’s draft Proposed Procedures, which were presented at a June 5, 2019 Workshop, may be found here.  CARB’s Staff Report:  Initial Statement of Reasons for the Proposed Procedures can be found here.

For further information on this topic, please contact Alyson E. Ackerman at aackerman@somachlaw.com or Michael E. Vergara at mvergara@somachlaw.com.

Somach Simmons & Dunn provides the information in its Environmental Law & Policy Alerts and on its website for informational purposes only.  This general information is not a substitute for legal advice, and users should consult with legal counsel for specific advice.  In addition, using this information or sending electronic mail to Somach Simmons & Dunn or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship with Somach Simmons & Dunn.

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