Mr. John Harland
Harland Rover Restorations
6-8 Mary St.
Cleveland TS18 4AN
Dear Mr. Harland:
We are replying to your e-mail of October 18, 1999, with questions relating to Federal regulation of "kit cars." I apologize for the delay in our response.
You would like to import new chasses into the United States. You would also like to import bodies used previously on Land Rover 90/110 vehicles. As described in your letter, the glazing, brake hoses, brake fluid, and seat belt assemblies in these bodies will meet the Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) that apply to these components (you didn't mention lamps and reflectors; these, too, must meet Federal requirements). The tires will be purchased in the United States. The customer will purchase the engines and transmissions "from another independent source." You have asked five questions with respect to this business plan.
"1) What is the procedure for VIN determination? i.e. how will the vehicle be titled? assuming that it would be registered in any of the 50 states."
As we have advised in a long-standing series of interpretations, the mounting of a used body to a new chassis constitutes the manufacture of a new motor vehicle which must meet all FMVSS that apply as of the date of its assembly. The vehicle would also be titled with the year of its assembly. An entity that assembles a vehicle in this manner would be a "manufacturer" under our laws, and required to ensure compliance of the vehicle with all applicable Federal requirements including the VIN (49 CFR Part 565), and to certify compliance of the vehicle (49 CFR Part 567). For example, if you were to assemble this vehicle today, it would have to meet all currently applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards such as those that prescribe criteria that must be met in frontal and side impacts.
"2) What is the licensing requirement that is necessary for a kit-car manufacturer on the federal level?"
In terms of your own operation, we would regard you as an importer of motor vehicle equipment for resale, and therefore a "manufacturer" of this equipment, subject to obligations such as notification and remedy in the event the equipment is discovered to incorporate a safety- related defect or be in noncompliance. Because certain of these equipment items are directly covered by a FMVSS, you would be required to submit a simple identification statement meeting the requirements of 49 CFR Part 566. There is no Federal "licensing" requirement.
Any manufacturer assembling one or more vehicles is also required to file a Part 566 statement. There are no Federal "licensing" requirements for manufacturers of motor vehicles.
"3) What is the requirement for the driveline installation? Must it be done by the purchaser himself? Do I have any responsibility to assure EPA conformity? Must I monitor the driveline installation and can I make any recommendation to the purchaser as to what type of driveline will be put into it (keep in mind that the buyer will want a certain type of engine and I must furnish the kit with appropriate wiring to accept that engine? Are there separate requirements for diesel engines?"
There are no "requirements" for driveline installation, but keep in mind that the entity completing the assembly of a motor vehicle is required to ensure compliance with all FMVSS, and meet certification and notification and remedy responsibilities. We cannot comment on kit car manufacturing responsibilities under EPA's regulations, and encourage you to contact that agency directly. While you may recommend drivetrains to the buyer without becoming the manufacturer of the vehicle, if you are involved in assembling the final product, you would be considered a manufacturer. The more you are involved in final operations, such as "monitoring" the installation of the drive train, the greater the possibility that you will be considered the de facto manufacturer of the vehicle with the actual assembler as your agent.
"4) What type of conformity assurance must I give to the federal government for the conformity of the vehicle parts?"
Your assurance is your statement on the HS-7 importation form that the equipment being imported conforms to all applicable FMVSS.
"5) I will be a limited production manufacturer, what is the maximum number of vehicle kits I can produce before other requirements kick in?"
Under Federal law and your business plan, you would be a "manufacturer" of all motor vehicle equipment that you import for resale. Your responsibility is to ensure that those equipment items covered by a FMVSS conform, and are certified to conform, with any applicable FMVSS. These requirements apply regardless of the number of items imported. We do not define "vehicle kits" or have requirements for them, other than requirements for the individual components as discussed in this letter.
If you have further questions, you may refer them to Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).
Frank Seales, Jr.