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Desert Dirt - Off-Road News - November 2010

Posted in News on November 1, 2010
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EPA Voids the Certificate Approving Import of up to 200,000 Small Recreational Vehicles
The EPA has withdrawn its approval of the import and sale of up to 200,000 gas-powered off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). After an extensive investigation, EPA officials have found that four companies have falsified and/or omitted certain emissions records to gain the EPA's "certificate of conformity." This certificate is required for all imported or manufactured vehicles in the United States.

• The original certifications were issued between 2006 and 2007 to U.S. counterparts of major Chinese manufacturers of ATVs and off-road motorcycles.

The offending U.S. companies: Hensim USA, Loncin USA, Peace Industry Group, and Seaseng.

List of affected vehicles:

• The certificates were based off applications filed by MotorScience Enterprise, which was a consultant to all four companies. EPA believes MotorScience Enterprise intentionally submitted false or incomplete emission data.

What this means:
EPA is considering levying significant financial penalties against the companies for violation of the Clean Air Act.

This is the first time EPA has voided certificates for sale and import for these types of vehicles and only the second time the agency has done so for any type of vehicle.

• "Certificates of Conformity" are based on emissions standards of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and total hydrocarbon emissions

NOx emissions produce volatile organic compounds that contribute to the formation of ground level ozone (smog).

For more information about the vehicles and the Certificate of Conformity visit

10 Best Bills of the 2009-2010 Legislative Session
1 California S.B. 232/A.B. 1740

California currently provides the emissions-system certification and model-year designation for specially constructed vehicles, including kit cars. Vehicle owners choose whether a smog-test referee certifies the engine model year or the vehicle model year. To determine model year, inspectors compare the vehicle to those of the era that the vehicle most closely resembles. Only those emission controls applicable to the model year (that can be reasonably accommodated by the vehicle) are required. The DMV provides a new registration to the first 500 specially constructed vehicles per year that meet the criteria. These bills seek to remove the 500-per-year vehicle limitation and allow for an unlimited number of specially constructed vehicle registrations.

2 Washington S.B. 5246 & Michigan S.B. 590
Based on SEMA model legislation aiming to provide for the hobby of collecting and restoring vehicles, these bills prohibit cities or towns from enforcing any restrictions that prevent automobile collectors from pursuing their hobby. Junked, wrecked, or inoperable vehicles, including parts cars, stored on private property would only require screening from public view.

3 New York A.B. 10698
Under current New York law, a historical motor vehicle is either a vehicle manufactured more than 25 years ago or one which has unique characteristics and determined to be of historical, classic, or exhibition value. This bill creates a $100 one-time fee that would replace the current annual fee of $28.75 for the registration of these vehicles.

4 Ohio H.B. 199, New York A.B. 2429/S.B. 3547, New Jersey A.B. 448/S.B. 687 & Massachusetts H.B. 4557
The SEMA street rod and custom model bill seeks to create vehicle registration and titling classifications for street rods and custom vehicles, including kit cars and replicas, and provides for special license plates. These bills define a "street rod" as an altered vehicle manufactured before 1949 and a "custom" as an altered vehicle at least 25 years old and manufactured after 1948. Kit cars and replica vehicles would be assigned a certificate of title bearing the same model year designation that the body of the vehicle was constructed to resemble.

5 West Virginia H.B. 2775/H.B. 3243/H.B. 4222/H.B. 4575
Recognizing the historical importance of antique vehicles, these West Virginia bills aim to reduce the financial burden placed on antique vehicle owners by reducing the taxes and fees that they must pay on these vehicles.

6 Idaho H.B. 591
In order to direct finite resources, this bill seeks to exempt vehicles driven less than 1,000 miles per year from the state's mandatory emissions testing program, regardless of the vehicle's age.

7 Iowa S.F. 2035
Establishing reasonable fees for the operation of a vehicle that is only driven occasionally is the goal of this bill. Allowing any antique motor vehicle to be registered as a "limited-use" antique vehicle, the bill opens up the limited use classification for an annual fee of $5. "Other occasional use" is added to the purposes for which a limited-use antique vehicle may be driven. "Other occasional use" is defined as driven not more than 1,000 miles annually.

8 Maryland H.B. 252
Recognizing that it is not an effective use of resources to perform emissions tests on newer vehicles, this bill exempts these vehicles from the state's mandatory emissions inspection program for the first four years after production.

9 Vermont S.B. 237
For the purpose of regulating salvage businesses in the state, this bill includes a provision stipulating that hobbyists are not to be confused with the owners of automobile graveyards. It includes a definition of an "automobile hobbyist" as a person not primarily engaged in the sale of vehicles and parts or dismantling junk vehicles and excludes from the definition of an "automobile graveyard" an area used by an automobile hobbyist for storage and restoration purposes.

10 Louisiana H.B. 118
Current Louisiana law exempts vehicles that are 40 years old and older from the state's inspection requirements. This bill exempts all antique vehicles, defined as 25 years old and older, from the motor vehicle inspection requirements, which include equipment inspections and emissions inspections in certain areas.

Worst 10 Bills of the Last Legislative Session
1 California A.B. 859

Instead of having to undergo a smog inspection every other year, this bill would require an annual smog check for all cars 15 years old and older. Ironically, the bill would also require that funds generated through the additional inspection fees would then be used to scrap older cars.

2 Colorado S.B. 95
Current law in Colorado requires only that vehicles from model year 1976 and newer undergo emissions testing. This bill would reset the model year target to include all model year 1959 and newer vehicles, including seldom-driven collector items, for required emissions testing.

3 Hawaii H.B. 1878
Tort law is seldom codified into state statute, but this bill aims to do just that by creating a cause of action (basis on which an individual can sue another individual) for maintaining an inoperable vehicle on private property. To succeed in such an action, the inoperable vehicle must directly or indirectly "injure" the person bringing the suit, possibly by decreasing their property value.

4 Michigan H.B. 5897
Michigan historic-vehicle owners must pay a registration fee of $30 every 10 years to operate on the state's roads. Historic vehicles that use an authentic Michigan license plate from the vehicle's model year are required to pay a one-time registration fee of $35. Under this bill to pad the state coffers, both registration fees would be due at a rate of $30 per year. This fee increase ignores the fact that these older cars are driven about one-third the miles each year as a new vehicle.

5 Nebraska L.B. 688
This bill would expand the definition of "abandoned motor vehicle" to include project cars and trucks that are left unattended for only six hours on private property without valid plates, title or permit, or that are inoperable, partially dismantled, wrecked, junked, or discarded. You heard that correctly! Six hours. In Nebraska, motor vehicles are defined as abandoned for the purpose of allowing state and local authorities to remove them from private property.

6 New York A.B. 1235
This bill provides that no automotive refinish material labeled "for professional use only" can be sold unless the purchaser demonstrates and meets all local ordinances for the use and application of the material. Bad luck for amateur hobbyists who want to paint their own hobby cars.

7 New York A.B. 2800
Commonly referred to as "gas-guzzler" legislation, this bill would charge higher toll and registration fees for vehicles based on the vehicle's weight, emissions and fuel-efficiency ratings. If enacted, a consumer's ability to purchase their vehicle of choice, not to mention vehicle safety, could be inhibited.

8 Virginia H.B. 462
This bill would ban the sale of "any aftermarket exhaust system component" that would cause the vehicle to produce "excessive or unusual noise." Since no definition exists in Virginia for what qualifies as "excessive or unusual noise," this prohibition would effectively ban the sale of any of these parts, generally purchased for their durability, performance, and appearance.

9 Washington H.B. 2059
Implementing a vehicle scrappage program, this bill would provide sales tax incentives (for the first $2,000 of tax paid) for trade-in vehicles more than 15 years old that do not comply with emissions standards. All trade-in vehicles would be destroyed, regardless of their historical value or collector interest. Scrappage programs such as these destroy key pieces of America's automotive and industrial heritage, and inhibit restoration projects that rely on these vehicles as a source for parts that are no longer being manufactured.

10 West Virginia H.B. 3087/S.B. 456
Can operating a vehicle with an exhaust system that may be annoying to some be considered a crime against the state? These West Virginia bills endeavor to include vehicles with exhaust systems deemed disturbing or loud in the definition of "disturbing the peace," a crime that carries a fine of up to $1,000 per occurrence, jail for six months, or both. West Virginia currently has no standard on which to base whether an exhaust system is disturbing or loud and these judgment calls would be left to a law enforcement officer's opinion.

The Funk 1200
You're looking at John Deere's Series 1200 TeamMate II axle from its Funk Drivetrain line. One of our correspondents spotted this beauty at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary, Canada, earlier this past June. It has planetary gears on both sides of the differential built right into the same housing. It's sort of like a Unimog's portal axles, but stronger since the gearing is inboard (and allows the use of smaller wheels thanks to the inboard planetary gearing). It has a peak vertical load rating of 54,000 pounds, is available in various widths, and has gear reduction ratios available from 4.33:1 to 33.42:1. A selectable locking differential is indeed an option as well.

As cool as this axle is, paying triple what your truck is worth for an axle that weighs 1,600 pounds might not be the best idea for your off-road build.

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