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Low volume vehicle manufacturers may soon find it easier to have their products approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Congressman John Campbell (R-Calif.) has introduced the "Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturer's Act," which aims to introduce a regulatory system specifically designed for companies that build fewer than 1,000 vehicles per year. Currently, it's difficult for boutique carmakers to shoulder the burden of safety and emissions evaluations tied to bringing a new vehicle to market. The bill, which has bipartisan support, would make it possible for the Environmental Protection Agency greenlight low-volume cars and trucks that use engines that have already been EPA-certified in other vehicles.

That would allow small carmakers to skip the costly exercise of having their creations subjected to emissions evaluations. The legislation also has provisions for alternative-fuel powerplants, which would theoretically make it easier for green-car startups to take to the roads. The bill is also being advocated by the Specialty Equipment Market Association.