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When vehicles are modified, the on-board tech needs to be taken into account
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When OEMs develop vehicles, there is a suite of regulatory issues that they must meet. So there is a need to pay very careful attention to all of the parameters of the vehicle, both inside and out.

But there are plenty of people who like to take standard vehicles and do something special to them—modify them in some way for purposes of performance or personalization.

SEMA Stingray

Stingray at the 2019 SEMA Show. Let’s face it, that is a vehicle chock-full of tech, and should it get modified, you’re going to want that tech to work after the fact as well as it did before. (Images: SEMA)

By and large, this is no big deal. But as John Waraniak, Vice President Vehicle Technology Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), points out, some aftermarket companies that make modifications could face a big legal risk should those changes result in the change in performance of some systems.

Or as it says in a white paper co-authored by Waraniak and representatives from Fox Factory, Transportation Research Center, asTech, and the Equipment & Tool Institute:

“For SEMA Members, it is important to know that it is illegal to sell or install a product that takes a vehicle out of compliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. The manufacturer or installer must have a reasonable basis for making a determination that the vehicle remains in compliance.”

SEMA isn’t letting its members dangle: “The FMVSS 126 vehicle dynamics test program that SEMA has put together helps manufacturers form that reasonable basis.”

Think, for example, of the sensors that are deployed in vehicles for everything from stability control to automatic emergency braking. Should a vehicle be lifted or should the wheels be radically changed in size, then the performance of those sensors is affected. In not all instances is the result something that has legal ramifications, but let’s face it, someone would undoubtedly rather have those systems that were paid for in the first place to actually work.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Waraniak has brought three of his colleagues—Michael McSweeney, President & General Manager, SCA Division of Fox Factory; Jake Rodenroth, Director of OEM and Industry Technical Relations, asTech and Alex Lybarger, Research Lead, Advanced Mobility, TRC Inc.—to talk about how they address the challenges of making modifications while maintaining the capabilities of the systems.

They talk with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Todd Lassa of Automobile Magazine and me.

It is a deep dive into the advanced tech world that SEMA is now much a part of, well beyond what one might imagine.

SEMA whitepaper

And if you’re interested in seeing the SEMA white paper you can get it right here:


In addition to which, McElroy, Lassa and I discuss a variety of subjects, including the Cadillac Lyriq, the Fisker Ocean, Hyundai’s creation of an all-electric vehicle company (Ioniq), Nikola’s order for 2,500 electric refuse haulers, the departure of Dhivya Suryadevara from General Motors, and more.

And you can see all on Autoline After Hours.


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