For many people, customizing street cars and hot rods is a pastime and way of life. But with the rise of alternative fuels and electric cars, those golden days for car aficionados may be numbered. California has led the charge for electric cars, promising to ban the sale of all gasoline-powered vehicles by 2030, but now the EPA looks to be stepping up auto regulations that will affect drivers across the country.
With help from the Clean Air Act, the EPA has won 31 cases in 2020 against manufacturers who make and install emissions defeating devices according to their website.
Specifically, Title II of the act, allows the EPA to set the environmental standards of all automotive engines.
Sounds reasonable right? Well, not exactly. Unfortunately, this legislation will apply to the restriction of many aftermarket parts like superchargers, turners, and exhausts, which are set to be banned.
In 2015, the EPA originally stated that car owners would not be able to alter an emissions-certified engine in any way that makes it non-compliant. The legislation at the time made sure to say that this would include racing cars until legal pressure forced the agency to strike out the language altogether in 2016.
Though this is not exactly surprising or particularly new news, the threat to the racing community still stands.
A recent article from The Truth About Cars highlights the newest legal flashpoint in the battle for race cars. Currently being sued by the EPA is Gear Box Z Inc, a company that manufactures and sells products to improve fuel economy, power, and performance. The EPA claims that some of Gear Box Z's products can only do this by defeating, bypassing, or deactivating emissions elements installed by an automaker.
Also named as an illegal product are the exhaust replacement pipe systems sold for use in Ford vehicles equipped with PowerStroke engines, General Motors vehicles equipped with Duramax engines, and Dodge models equipped with Cummins engines.
Also in this fight is the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), which represents the $46.2 billion specialty automotive industry. This industry includes mods and technology related to recreational vehicles.
SEMA contends that the Clean Air Act's restrictions on car modifications shouldn't apply to street vehicles and is dedicated to battling the EPA's controversial legislation.
Without a doubt, at the heart of this issue is peoples' ability to buy and install products to modify their streetcars or simply turn them into higher performance or competition-style race vehicles. Though the verdict is still out on the Gear Box Z Inc case, plenty still hangs in the balance for racers and car aficionados. Though it is impossible for the EPA to outright ban all of the millions of preexisting cars with modified engines and exhausts, the agency is certainly trying to regulate the source of these products.
What happens in the next legal decision and coming years will send ripples throughout the automotive industry.