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NHTSA Allows Research Exemptions for Domestic Vehicle and Equipment Manufacturers

Date: January 12, 2021

NHTSA recently posted a rule that allows domestic manufacturers of vehicles and equipment to seek exemptions from federal safety standards under certain circumstances, such as testing and demonstrations. Allowing these exemptions would allow manufacturers to operate non-conforming vehicles on public roads.

Earlier this year, MEMA sent NHTSA a letter urging the agency to act on this long-awaited rulemaking. The agency has opted to use its ability to go straight to an Interim Final Rule, which will be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

The rule states manufacturers of domestically produced vehicles and equipment can obtain temporary FMVSS exemptions for purposes of “research, investigations, demonstrations, training, competitive racing events, show or display.”

One of the key benefits of this rule is to help enhance the development of automated driving systems.  However, this rule can have benefits for a variety of other future vehicle technologies.

More importantly, it provides manufacturers some certainty in light of the many challenges – like the ongoing pandemic – facing the vehicle industry. NHTSA’s rule states that this rule “provides a level playing field” and the agency “is implementing this interim final rule to provide certainty to these entities as they assess strategies and revamp research and development plans.”

For more information, please contact Ann Wilson or Leigh Merino.

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