Will Tesla and others lose federal 'hardship' airbag exemption?

Low-volume automakers like Lamborghini and Tesla Motors may soon lose an exemption that allows them to sell cars in the United States with below-standard airbags. The exemption was granted on financial hardship grounds. Now, though, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the expense of airbag technology isn't enough to grant an exception.
Tesla is seeking another exemption for its Roadster, which ceases production later this year. According to Tesla execs, the Model S, which goes on sale in mid-2012, will have airbags that meet NHTSA standards.

Lamborghini brass say the end to the exemptions won't affect them, as all of the automaker's current models meet the latest standards. Although Lotus wouldn't confirm anything, the company likely ended production of the Elise and Exige in this country because of the exemptions' end.

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