If you’re a fan of vehicles available overseas but not here, we’ll warn you in advance: the road to gray-market bliss is paved with the smoking wreckage of companies like Kaizo Industries
and Motorex, former importers of gray-market Nissan Skylines
Both companies thought they’d found loopholes in NHTSA and U.S. Customs vehicle import laws, and both quickly learned that the federal government has no mercy when it comes to creative interpretation of its statutes. Motorex was shut down by the feds, and its owner jailed, while Kaizo Industries has been forced into bankruptcy and charged with multiple violations of the Clean Air act.
A new petition submitted to the White House
hopes to change the laws surrounding the import of gray market vehicles. Specifically, it’s requesting that the age of “exempt” vehicles, those that can legally be imported into the United State, be lowered from 25 years to 15 years.
The petition also requests that Homeland Security refocus its efforts (and its budget) to target terrorist activity instead of concentrating on seizures of inbound goods such as gray-market automobiles. Calling the agency’s current activities “wasteful,” the petition seeks to allocate Homeland Security resources to secure the country, not enforce NHTSA or DOT regulations.
While we’d love to see more lenient regulations surrounding the import of foreign vehicles, we doubt that the current laws will change any time soon, no matter how many signatures the petition gets.
Until they do, those who import vehicles or engines from other countries are well advised to learn the complex EPA statutes
that govern the import of vehicles and components into the United States. There are no loopholes and there are no shortcuts to facilitate the process.
Failing to do so can have unpleasant and expensive consequences, as Motorex, Kaizo Industries and many others have learned the hard way.