WASHINGTON-Intrusive regulations for automobiles-particularly regarding on-board diagnostics (OBD) and old-car buyback schemes-are major concerns for manufacturers of specialty automotive parts and accessories, according to a leading spokesman for that industry. ``One thing we must do is to make sure government works in more efficient ways,'' said Ronald L. Coleman, chairman of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), in a Feb. 21 speech before the Washington Automotive Press Association.
``We will continue to be an advocate of working on (governmental) issues that will get you a better return,'' he told the group.
OBD regulations-in which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires vehicle manufacturers to install computer diagnostic systems in every vehicle-have become a part of automotive life in the U.S., Mr. Coleman said.
But each new-car manufacturer has a different OBD system.
``The problem is, unless we have the opportunity to determine the calibration of each system, if our parts go on a vehicle, the computer reads them as a malfunction,'' Mr. Coleman said.
``It is imperative we determine ways to have our members' parts on these vehicles,'' he added.
Similarly, the so-called ``clunker'' laws, in which states allow factories to buy old cars as a way of gaining emissions reduction credits, can be a severe problem for the specialty aftermarket, according to Mr. Coleman.
For instance, even the EPA admits older cars aren't always the worst ``gross emitters'' in the vehicle fleet, he said. For another, the ``clunker'' laws as originally planned allow only for the destruction of older cars, excluding such options as repair, restoration and recycling for parts.
``We have a program where we can recycle these vehicles, but they're being crushed instead,'' Mr. Coleman said.
SEMA, he added, is working with those states-eight so far, including California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas-that are in various stages of adopting vehicle scrappage laws, in order to ensure that ``collector'' cars are not destroyed.