NGVAmerica recently applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) proposal to streamline the process for certifying natural gas vehicle aftermarket conversions as “one of the most important steps government can take to expand the use of non-petroleum fuels.” The organization has supported the existing requirements, but contended that they are unduly restrictive when it comes to aftermarket conversions.
“We commend EPA for recognizing that its regulations as currently written are not a good fit for aftermarket conversions,” said Jeff Clarke, general counsel and director of regulatory affairs for NGVAmerica, in an oral statement made during a hearing on the agency’s proposed rule changes. “It has been a long time in coming and is welcomed.
“Until there are sufficient numbers of original equipment manufacturers’ products available in the marketplace, our industry will continue to need aftermarket conversions to help us grow, to help us justify the necessary investments in fueling stations, and to help us increase market penetration,” he said. “Conversions fill a void unmet by original equipment manufacturers and demonstrate consumer demand for new applications.”
In supporting the proposed rule changes, Clarke provided the following specific recommendations:
- Warranty: EPA should unequivocally state that converting a vehicle does not void the original equipment manufacturers warranty.
- Certification fees: The EPA should allow aftermarket manufacturers to pay the certification fees at the end of each quarter or annually based on the total number of vehicles sold. Manufacturers now are required to pay the fees based on expected sales, which ties up capital.
- Vehicles two years or older: The agency should specifically state that manufacturers can seek both a Certificate of Conformity for the new vehicle and approval for converting this vehicle after two years.
- Bench testing for heavy-duty vehicles. The requirement to use bench testing for heavy-duty vehicles is too restrictive and manufacturers should be able to use chassis testing that has been approved by EPA. This would help lower the costs of complying with the regulations. [
Legislation proposed last year to wean Americans off foreign oil is still waiting for action by Congress. The NAT Gas Act (New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act) would give truck buyers up to $64,000 per vehicle for the purchase of natural gas–fueled vehicles (NGVs), along with other financial incentives. According to Clarke, if passed, the bill would provide income tax credits for conversions, repowers or the purchase of new, dedicated natural gas vehicles.