California Air Resources Board Must Consider "Upgrade" Devices

A new law requires the ARB to evaluate upgrade equipment as alternative to the jaws of a crusher.
Washington, D.C.—The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is now required to evaluate the voluntary installation of aftermarket emissions-reduction devices as a potential substitute for state programs that are responsible for crushing older cars, it was announced by SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association. The new legislation, signed into law by California Governor Gray Davis, was sponsored by State Senator Maurice Johannessen (R-District 4) and backed by SEMA.
Under the new law, the ARB will perform a review and assessment of certain add-on componentry designed to reduce emissions—existing law requires California to abandon scrappage programs where aftermarket "upgrade" programs can be shown to offer more cost-effective emissions-reduction opportunities.
SEMA is a national trade group that strives to defend the interests of all motorists, with emphasis on protecting the legal rights of automotive hobbyists. Motor vehicle aficionados have long held that "old cars" are not guilty of polluting the air provided they are properly maintained. SEMA experts insist upgrade mechanisms are a sensible alternative to crushing vehicles, since the emissions-reduction devices are proven to achieve clean-operating vehicles and offer the added benefit of better overall engine performance.
"A successful voluntary upgrade program operated by the San Diego Air Pollution Control District demonstrates a tremendous emissions-reduction advantage over scrappage," stated Chris Kersting, SEMA vice president, government affairs. "SEMA is convinced that an upgrade device that results in effective emissions control operation is a more cost-effective approach when compared to vehicle scrappage." He noted that all data available on the impact of upgrades versus scrappage support the trade association's position.
"A variety of technologies now exist that could expand the numbers of vehicles eligible for cost-effective upgrades. These devices not only reduce emissions but generally result in lower vehicle operating costs. That's an important consideration for individuals and families whose financial status dictates they drive an older car," Kersting said. He added that upgrades will also spare from the crusher antique and classic vehicles, a very important consideration to automotive collectors and hobbyists.
"There's no longer any question about whether or not upgrade devices must at least be considered by the ARB," Kersting stated. "It is anticipated the new law will lead to a situation where the emissions upgrade concept will replace vehicle scrappage programs. SEMA hopes the State of California in this latest action has set a precedent other states will follow.
SEMA is a trade group with more than 3,500 member companies doing business in the specialty automotive aftermarket industry. The seven diverse niches in which SEMA businesses specialize, and whose interests are a focus of the trade group's protection, include accessorization of light trucks, off-road, racing and performance, street rod, restoration and restyling. When combined, these markets totaled $21.2 billion in retail business during 1998.