Mr. Mark A. Fowler
4747 Hollywood Blvd, Suite 101
Hollywood, FL 33021
Dear Mr. Fowler:
This responds to your letter regarding the requirements for importing a low-speed vehicle/neighborhood electric vehicle (LSV/NEV). Specifically, you ask about the procedures for importing a vehicle built to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 500, Low-Speed Vehicles.
By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has authority to prescribe safety standards applicable to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment (49 U.S.C. Chapter 301). Under this authority, NHTSA defined the types of vehicles that can be certified as LSVs and established FMVSS No. 500 to ensure that LSVs are equipped with appropriate motor vehicle equipment for the purposes of safety. However, NHTSA does not approve or certify any motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment. Instead, 49 U.S.C. 30115 establishes a self- certification process under which each manufacturer is responsible for certifying that its products meet all applicable FMVSSs. Our regulations prescribe how certification is accomplished (see 49 CFR 567).
You ask where you can get a list of exactly which parts this agency needs to test, and how many of each part we would need. You also ask if we require a finished vehicle to inspect. As explained above, NHTSA does not approve motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, manufacturers are required to self-certify that their products conform to all applicable safety standards. NHTSA selects a certain number of vehicles for its compliance testing program. If NHTSA or the manufacturer determines that a vehicle does not comply with the FMVSS, or is defective, the manufacturer must notify owners of the vehicle and provide a remedy for the noncompliance. By statute, the importer of a vehicle is considered a manufacturer of the vehicle and has the statutory duty to remedy a noncompliance or a safety-related defect.
An LSV/NEV is considered a motor vehicle, and therefore subject to NHTSA regulations regarding the importation of vehicles. NHTSAs website (http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov) contains a substantial amount of information regarding the procedures for importing vehicles. Enclosed with this letter we have provided a printout of the overview of frequently asked questions relating to vehicle importation and certification. The specific address for this web page is http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/FAQ%20Site/index.html. This page also contains links to other information which may be of interest to you.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any additional questions, contact Mr. Ari Scott of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke