This post is about the EPA’s stand on Kit Cars and the importation of vehicle parts, and assemblages of vehicle parts.There is also some information on what the NHTSA/DOT defines as vehicle parts.
The following represents a clarification of EPA's policy concerning the regulation of imported and domestically produced kit cars and kit car packages. Kit vehicles are understood by EPA to typically involve new bodies, used drivetrains and new or used chassis. Used components may or may not be refurbished. This policy applies to kits or assembled kit cars only. This policy does not apply to regular production vehicles offered for importation into or produced in the United States.
This only applies to kits or assembled kits. The next part is important.
The production, sale and importation of vehicle parts (engines, transmissions, chassis, vehicle bodies, etc.) are not regulated by EPA because parts are not considered motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. However if the parts constitute a disassembled vehicle or an approximate disassembled vehicle, the combination is considered a motor vehicle under the Clean Air Act. Any attempt to use this policy to circumvent the Clean Air Act or the Imports regulations will be considered a violation of the Clean Air Act and will be strictly enforced. An example of such circumvention is:
- A kit car maker who also provides the engine and transmission before or after production/importation of the body/chassis.
The next question is: what constitutes a disassembled vehicle or an approximate disassembled vehicle ? Is a used fender an approximate disassembled vehicle ? Is a front clip an approximate disassembled vehicle ? Is a transmission illegal to import because it can be used in a vehicle ? There is no absolute definition, as the NHTSA/DOT has for importation.
The NHTSA /DOT is very clear on what they constitute as a motor vehicle under importation laws. http://vehicleimport.blogspot.com/2007/12/importation-and-certification-faq-all.html
If a vehicle is shipped without its engine and drive train, it would be treated, for importation purposes, not as a motor vehicle but instead as an assemblage of motor vehicle equipment items. In this instance, the vehicle would be entered under Box 1 on the HS-7 Declaration form, which covers motor vehicle equipment not covered by a standard, or manufactured before the date that an applicable standard takes effect. Any items included in the assemblage that are subject to an FMVSS (brake hoses, brake fluid, glazing, lighting equipment, seat belt assemblies, tires, rims) that were not manufactured to comply with the applicable standard, and/or were not so certified by their original manufacturer, must be removed from the assemblage and exported or destroyed before entry.
No engine, no drive train, and any items with the parts meeting FMVSS, the parts are legal to import.
So the real questions get back to the EPA’s policy on what exactly is parts, and what exactly constitutes an approximate disassembled vehicle.
Importing a large group of parts, and then building a road vehicle from those parts, does not make the parts a “kit car” even though people like to defer to that term. Its used by a lot of people, and states to describe cars that people have home built, or specially constructed vehicles.
Individual states handle the titling of specialty constructed, or home built vehicles. It is out of the EPA’s hands by that point. The Clean Air Act requires some states and areas to have an emissions testing program, but not every state or area requires it. There are even areas in California that smog testing is not required annually.