Hi, I'm thinking about bringing a diesel BMW station wagon from Germany and wanted to find out what kind of modifications I'd have to get to pass EPA here.
The vehicle is BMW 530xd Touring (Station Wagon), it's an all wheel drive diesel with Emissions Sticker 4 (green) and Particulate Filter.
Some modifications will be done in Germany, since I'd like to run the car mostly on biodiesel.
My main issue is EPA clearance. I was told there are no labs (at least in California) that do diesel engine testing for EPA compliance.
I am new to this forum, so forgive me if I'm posting in the wrong section of the forum.
First of all, google "Importing a vehicle". There was simple, clear booklet produced by the EPA and DOT that spelled out what I'll try to condense below:
If a particular version of a vehicle wasn't sold in the US, and is less than 25 years old, then you'll find that it is nearly impossible to import. The rules are spelled out pretty clearly by the EPA and DOT, who are tasked with insuring that only those vehicles are allowed on our roads that have been PROVEN to meet US emissions over their lifetimes, and to meet US safety requirements. The key to the problem is that word "proven". A manufacturer normally submits several representative samples of a vehicle to an approved test lab, who run them through simulated life cycles. They're also crash tested to verify safety requirements. These tests generate a list of parts and settings that are required for a particular model to meet all US standards. If a particular version of a vehicle was sold here, then you only need to find the list of components and settings necessary to bring it up to US-specs, have them installed by a certified shop, have it inspected for compliance, and then you can take the vehicle to your local DMV and license and register it.
It doesn't matter that it meets German standards. They don't correspond to US standards. Also, most EU countries use annual or semi-annual inspections to maintain emissions and safety standards, so the manufacturer's don't need to test a vehicle over its lifetime; they can prove it by analysis, then let the owners verify it annually. This is less expensive for the manufacturer than the way the US does it.
If a particular model was not sold in the US, and is less than 25 years old, then things become very difficult. It might be disassembled and legally brought in as parts (note: use an experienced broker). You could then reassemble it in your garage. This doesn't yet give you a legal vehicle, until you can license and register it. People have done this in a variety of ways, some more legal than others. The EPA and DOT already know more ways to do this than you can think of. They also have yards filled with vehicles that they have seized from people trying to bring them in without complying with the law. For example, they will compare the VIN hidden on the chassis to the tag on the dash and the number on the title.
Once a vehicle is more than 25 years old, it can be legally imported as a collector's car, without any significant restriction (local DOT has jurisdiction, and will require some sort of inspection). If you import a bunch of parts, then use them to retrofit an existing vehicle, then you only need to deal with possible local EPA requirements. Some places won't let you put a diesel engine into a gas vehicle, some will.
Those are the rules, as I recall them.
Thank you very much for your reply. I was hoping for some sort of work-around, but I guess, there is none. I have been researching on the web for a while and even contacted several RIs. I'm still waiting for the response from BMW of North America, but I'm sure it's not going to be favorable.
I can't believe with all those amazing diesels in Europe, we barely have any available here in the US.
Thanks again for the info.
Check out these websites for a lot of good government info:
Here is a list of cars that can be "imported".
A number of BMW's are listed.
Here are "pending" applications as of mid-last year.
You will need to contact a registered importer from this list:
It is possible to register as an importer...
Or to apply for the consideration of a model of car that is not listed above. Of course, both of those can be expensive.
There are ways that cars get into the USA...
For example, a Canadian may be able to drive a car into the USA... then choose to sell it this side of the boarder. Or... a Canadian may will a vehicle to family members south of the boarder.
I don't know if the same is true with Europeans. However, I've heard of at least one "newer" Fiat that came to the USA with an Italian student, but then was later sold in the USA.
Rules may be different in California than in other states...
Now I'm confused.
Looking at this page:
"LIST OF 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 MODEL YEAR CANADIAN VEHICLES
CONSIDERED BY EPA TO CONFORM WITH U.S. EMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS"
It indicates with the exception of a single Volvo...
"All 1998 model year light duty and heavy duty diesel-fueled vehicles built January 1, 1998 or later."
I would think this indicates that the problem with "Smart Diesels", and "Toyota Diesels"... is all fantasy.
But then again, they apparently haven't updated the page for a decade.
Thank you for the info. I just got back from Germany, seeing all their amazing diesels, liquid gas/gasoline hybrids, natural gas cars made me realize how much behind US is in the field of alternative fuels. They consider Toyota Prius a gas guzzler compare to some of the diesel vehicles they have there. After driving some of the diesels, I would agree. What impressed me is the concept of choice that the consumers have there, forced in large part by about double the prices of gasoline that we have here, due to a much higher taxes on fuel (diesel gets taxed less there, percentage wise than gasoline. It's the other way around in the states). I like the concept of higher taxes on gas, their roads are a good testament for that. Anyway, I don't know how to achieve it yet, but there has to be a way (****, I'd even go as far as a lawsuit) to make it possible to bring new Euro diesels and other mixed fuel vehicles to the US, without being limited what US branches of car manufacturers think would sell. I think, there would be enough demand by early adopters like people on this blog.
On top of that, solar panels everywhere, in the middle of nowhere, farms, homes, office buildings, selling solar energy back to the grid. I live in Southern California and it is a travesty we don't have the same policy. ****, we got so much more sun than Bavaria. Ok, enough of my rant. Gotta figure it out how to get those diesels stateside.
This is a classic example of big, expensive, intrusive, ineffective, counterproductive federal U.S. government.
I would recommend that you start by firing all of your incumbent senators and congresspersons this fall.
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
A possible work around would be to become a liscenced used car dealer and then bring it in but don't plate it other than the dealer plate that covers the entire inventory. Maybe ?
** Biodiesel Glycerine Soap - The Guide
- on 5 continents helping people make & sell soap from the Biodiesel Glycerine.
I think you still have to be a licensed importer...
Which requires some inspection, application, and a few bucks...
The apply for the car model to be approved.
The Federal DOT and EPA were designed to protect the people and the consumers. And in many senses, they've done a great job.
I think I read about the Tata Nano bursting into flames from driving out of the dealer lot. Not even an accident.
And I looked at some of the regulations a while ago and many make senses... like a speedometer should read in MPH. I've own a car with the speedometer in KPH... what a pain :P
And various regulations designed to keep gasoline in the tanks as much as possible, even in accidents.
Unfortunately the USA fails to recognize that Europe, Japan, and most of the rest of the world already have similar regulations... Over 52 countries have joined the UNECE Vehicle Safety & Emission standards. Yet the USA is hanging out all alone.
I have been racking my mind about how to get cars up here from Mexico (where even the tiny Fiat 500 is already available). For example driving an old VW Caddy south, and driving a new VW Saveiro back North Or, perhaps towing an Saveiro without an engine (most are gasoline anyway), and then titling it as assembled from parts.
The people in America who make a lot of money selling new cars don't want any competition, so they make sure the huge taxes they pay and the lobbyists they buy will ensure that monopoly.
The only people I've known to get around the import problem were returning military and government personnel who brought back their personal vehicle. No doubt a lot of squeaky wheels needed grease to make it happen smoothly.
For the average person it's next to impossible if the vehicle is newer than 25 years in the US and 15 years in Canada. If they're older then it's easy. If you're thinking of importing a vehicle to run biodiesel or VO then importing an older vehicle in excellent condition will get a better veg-burner. It's possible to find low mileage excellent condition vehicles in Asia and Europe. There are companies that make a business importing excellent used vehicles and selling them for good value.
When reading posts like this on the strict controlls that I sometimes think it is actually good living with one foot in a 3rd world
Land Cruiser 4.2tdi, Figo 1.4tdci,
Really, I'm not quite sure who is helped by all of this.
It is expensive for the car companies to have different standards that they must comply with. I do wonder a bit about their selection of engines that they will have for each specific market.
VW would make the same money if one purchased a Golf Blue Motion in Germany, or a Golf Gas Guzzler in the USA.
The number of gray market cars trickling in has no significant impact on US auto sales. Say they changed the rules that an individual could import one minimally modified gray market car every 5 years for personal use only. A few thousand more cars might make it across the oceans... not one auto manufacturer or dealer would be hurt. How many of those wanting to import a gray market BMW, VW, or FIAT would have otherwise bought a Chevy?
Warranties might be an issue... but then again, the manufacturer might make out like a bandit by requiring you to take your car to an "authorized dealer"... and not providing any authorized dealers in North America. This would be especially true for Fiat, Renault, SEAT, Loremo, and other manufactures that don't have US Dealers. But even BMW or VW could refuse warranty service at their US dealers.
The emissions on the gray market cars? Well, perhaps an issue. But, again they are only a drop in the bucket... whether you are buying a Ferrari or a FIAT, the number of gray market cars is a fraction of a percent of the vehicles on the road.
The biggest issue would be for auto manufactures to explain why the gray market cars would get 70 MPG and the US Market cars got half that for essentially the same model.
That could be a footnote on a lot of government regulations.
That is exactly my point. Variety of drive trains and fueling options would stimulate the market in a very efficient way. Also, federal and state governments need to pay more attention to fuel policy developments in Europe. As I mentioned before, I'd like to see is there a way to legally challenge the status quo in the US. All it takes is a couple of legal precedents and we can start bringing efficient used vehicles stateside. If anybody has any info regarding lawyers who would be willing to take on that, let me know.
it's not easy. it requires a precedent (let's call it 'New European Clean Diesels vs. US' case), after that (given that there's enough well presented defense) it would be easy.
Right. Most of the lawyers can get a brand new Euro car in the US that runs on gasoline. I can go and buy one as well right now. That's not what I'm trying to find out on this forum.
If it was that easy, then why hasn't someone established a precedent?
Do you mean there are no new cars imported into the USA? I never realized that was the case.
Higgins, you more or less can't sue the government. This is a matter for the legislature, pure and simple. Lobby away, but good luck with those monkeys.
Lawyer By Day, Biodieseler by Weekend
I didn't say that did I? Read it again slowly and carefully. Don't infer what isn't there.
That is the only way what you have said can even possibly make sense.
You seem to forget that these new car dealers who pay "Huge" taxes already have a monopoly on selling new cars and I am sure they do not care whether the car they sell is diesel or petrol powered, they will make a hansom profit.
I like your rather naieve theory that wealthy people pay huge taxes. It is a shame that in the real world that is far from the truth.
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