Don’t Tread on Me: A Petition to Change Vehicle Import Laws

Petition to Change vehicle import laws

Don't Tread on Me:  A Petition to Change Vehicle Import Laws

MotoIQ Staff Report

Read the petition HERE 

For the past 12 years I have been working with vehicle import to the United States.  It's an odd thing, a difficult path to navigate, but I have spent a lot of time with the Code of Federal Regulations, and a good amount of time at the NHTSA/OVSC offices in Washington, DC. It is in my nature to question things that just don't make sense to me, and a lot of things to do with vehicle importation don't make a lot of sense.  25 years seems like an arbitrary number.  Why is the DOT/NHTSA exemption for vehicles 25 years? 

Mitshubishi Delica
You may have never seen or heard of one but this Mitsubishi Delica was actually sold briefly in the 'States.  In Japan it was available in 4WD Diesel trim.  These vehicles are frequently imported to Canada.

The even odder part about the 25 year requirement, is that while the DOT/NHTSA requirement is 25 years, the EPA's requirement is 21 years.  At 25 years you no longer need to meet specific requirements for importation, and can import anything you want.  The same is true at 21 years for the EPA requirements.  Each State then has its specific requirements for registration, but the Federal Government is satisfied.

Canada has similar requirements on the books, but it is a 15 year exemption.  So for the last seven years, the Canucks have been importing some of the really “cool” JDM cars, like 1989 Nissan Skylines.  As each year progresses they are able to import progressively newer models years, to the point that they are now able to legally import the 1995 Skyline R33 GT-R, Silvias, Crowns, Diesel Landcruisers, Soarers, and tons of other vehicles. 

XS Engineering R32 GT-R
XS Engineering R32 GT-R.  It's a crying shame there aren't more vehicles like this stateside.

The real reason that vehicles are not allowed to be imported has very little to do with safety, and more to do with lobbying power.  I wrote a blog post earlier this year, giving my explanation on why the Nissan Skyline was illegal in the US. Though the years, I have heard all kinds of reasons, from all kinds of people, but about 99.9% of what you hear is bullshit. 

Turbodiesel Landcruiser
While incredibly popular on the Australian and African continents you'd be hard pressed to find a Turbo Diesel Land Cruiser here.

“The grey market was successful enough that it ate significantly into the business of Mercedes-Benz of North America and their dealers. The corporation launched a successful million-dollar congressional lobbying effort to stop private importation of vehicles not officially intended for the U.S. market. An organisation called AICA (Automotive Importers Compliance Association) was formed by importers in California, Florida, New York, Texas, and elsewhere to counter some of these actions by Mercedes lobbyists, but the Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Act was passed in 1988, effectively ending private import of grey-market vehicles to the United States. No evidence was presented that grey-import vehicles' safety performance differed significantly from that of US models, and there have been allegations of improper lobbying, but the issue has never been raised in court.”

Nissan Figaro
 The Nissan Figaro packing 1.0L turbocharged power is rarely seen outside of Japanese soil.

So down to brass tacks, and this particular petition. Most petitions I just ignore, because there is nothing behind them.  No way to officially present it to anyone that can do anything about it.  However, this particular one caught my attention. Toby Yim posted it to my Facebook page, and Jordan Watson got behind it to spread it. It seemed interesting that it was on the White House site, and that it had a chance at an official response.   25,000 signatures is not a goal, 25,000 signatures is the start.

Head over sign up, sign in, and put your name on it.   The laws can be changed, and this is just one step, but in order to do so, a lot more will have to be done. Anything is possible, it just all requires effort from more than a few people.

Toyota Soarer
Looks like our SC300 but under the hood the Toyota Soarer has a far superior 1JZ Twin Turbo powerplant.

What we really need is about 1,000 people a day signing the petition. People forget, mean to do it, don't get around to it, so the people that care, and are trying to make it happen, have to make sure those people sign up. It Just takes a couple minutes, and it might be the start of a movement.

We need to leverage social media. We need to leverage those email lists. We need to leverage those blogs. We need to leverage those forums.  Car enthusiasts need to be a little more vocal. Don't let the few loud, over power us quiet many. We get pushed around doing what we enjoy doing. The “green” movement seems like it might be strong, but we need to be stronger.

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