My main contention in this thread is that the Ariel Atom is not legal to operate in public roads because it was not manufactured in accordance with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). I'll summarize the FMVSS as I understand it and provide references at the end of this text.
Title 49 of the U. S. Code, Chapter 301 requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The first standard was issued on March 1, 1967: Safety Standard 209, Seat Belt Assemblies
. Beginning January 1, 1968, many new safety standards came into effect and they have been updated on a continuuing basis since. (1) The FMVSS are currently incorporated into Title 49, Section 571.7, Part B. (2)
The FMVSS applies to manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle components on the first introduction into interstate commerce. (3) The FMVSS also applies to a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business after the first sale: they are never allowed to disable anything that was certified under the FMVSS. (4) The FMVSS does not apply to sales subsequent to the first introduction into interstate commerce. For example, if a private party buys a vehicle from a dealer, removes the seat belts and then offers it for sale to someone else, that is not a violation of the FMVSS. (5)
TMI AutoTech Incorporated unequivocally states they manufacture the Ariel Atom:
Because the Atoms are being manufactured after March 1, 1967, and are being introduced into interstate commerce, many FMVSS apply if the vehicles are to be used on public roads. (2)
Title 49 is federal law. It cannot be modified by state or local law, except to be more
restrictive. (6) The fact that a vehicle can be registered under state law does not lead to an inevitable conclusion that it complies with federal law - the two conditions are completely independent of each other.
More to come . . .
(1) Quick Reference Guide to FMVSS and Regulations
(2) 49 USC 571.7 B
(3) 49 USC 30112(a)(1)
(4) 49 USC 30122
(5) 49 USC 30112(b)(1)
(6) 49 USC 30103(b)