Lotus Elise vs Ariel Atom 3S :) - Page 3 - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #41 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-08-2017, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater View Post
That letter is from 1998, a lot has changed since then.
Letters of interpretation are published by federal agencies to inform the public and assist them in adhering to the law. Those letters represent precedent and indicate how the agency will act on similar situations in the future and are in effect until reversed or otherwise cancelled (can you tell I worked for a federal agency?). If you are aware of a letter of interpretation that reverses the one I’ve cited, then let’s see it.

Despite your assertion, not much has changed in the way of the FMVSS since 1998 except to update and add requirements and to add the low-volume exemption for REPLICA vehicles (which the Atom is not). The basic law hasn’t changed.

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If the installer of the drivetrain is considered the manufacturer, then they would certainly be considered a "low volume" manufacturer and exempt from Federal safety standards, like crash tests.
No. They would be eligible to apply for an exemption under 49 USC 30114 (b)(2). Their application would be subject to approval at the discretion of the Secretary of Transportation. Their request would be summarily denied since the Ariel Atom is not a replica of a vehicle originally manufactured at least 25 years ago. The exemption was described for manufacturers, not one-off assemblies by private parties (for more on this, see the discussion of this topic in the letter from Virginia that you cited).

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What it says is that when the State of Virginia asked TMI if their vehicles complied with the FMVSS and if they were legal to operate on public roads, TMI replied that their vehicles did not comply with the FMVSS and were not legal to operate on public roads. No issue of being dated here ... that answer came from TMI just one year ago. And TMI didn’t have any caveats like “but they’re legal if the buyer gets a roller from us and an engine from someone else ...” They’re not legal, under any current circumstance - something the discussion in the letter goes on about in great detail.

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Last edited by Glen; 11-08-2017 at 01:52 PM. Reason: sp
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post #42 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-08-2017, 02:37 PM
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From that same letter, "NHTSA says that a state is free to determine what vehicles can be registered in the state; however, the registration would have to be limited to intrastate-only and the owners would have to understand that the operation of a vehicle that does not properly comply with the applicable FMVSS is a violation of federal law, even if legal in-state." And "state laws permitting such registration would only govern use of that vehicle on an intrastate basis...a non-compliant but otherwise properly registered vehicle could be subject to penalties if it were driven across state lines or onto federal property..."

I will absolutely concede that the Atom isn't federally legal, and won't be made federally legal, but the original point that was made was that they can be registered and "street legal" in certain states depending on state law. Not trying to argue semantics here about "street legal," we're talking about whether you can register one in your state and drive it. People have and do...doesn't seem like there are any current ramifications for doing so

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post #43 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-08-2017, 03:02 PM
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...but the original point that was made was that they can be registered and "street legal" in certain states depending on state law. Not trying to argue semantics here about "street legal," we're talking about whether you can register one in your state and drive it. People have and do...
The original point of contention was not whether some people have registered Atoms in their state - of course they have. The original point that I made in this post and that was called out as misinformation was that Atoms are not street (or any other qualifier) legal. Operating them on public roads is not legal and state laws that govern their registration do not change that in the least.

Maybe a little context would help. I suspect almost every driver breaks some law every time they venture out onto public roads. I know I do ... traffic often moves 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit here in Denver. I choose to blend in and drive the same rate as everyone else. And that's despite the fact the 15 mph over can land you in jail. But I do so knowing the law and the risks involved.

Driving an Atom ought to be the same thing: know the law and understand the risks. In my judgement, if I had to defend myself against a wrongful death suit where I was operating a vehicle that wasn't legal to be on public roads and whose compliance with the FMVSS may have prevented the very death I was accused of contributing to ... that would be a very weak position to have to champion. So in the case of an Atom, I choose not to break the law because the possible consequences are too great. The FMVSS were established to reduce injury and death, and they have done that to a great degree. So even if you choose to ignore the potential for adverse litigation, I believe there is a moral argument as well. I don't think it is ethical to circumvent a system designed to reduce injury and death when compliance has such a negligible price in comparison to a human life.

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Last edited by Glen; 11-08-2017 at 03:37 PM. Reason: grammar
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post #44 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-08-2017, 07:39 PM
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You can't beat a Ariel Atom for all out fun.

Had two different spec race atom's and they were the most affordable race car I've ever owned. Easy on brakes (1 set of $120 pads a season), tires (2 sets a season), and several oil changes.

Was able to put over 1000 miles on the Nomad last year at Monterrey, what a blast their new car is!

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post #45 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-08-2017, 07:43 PM
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Hope this isn't a trend:

Texas DMV is revoking titles for dune buggies and other kit cars

Report: Texas makes off-road vehicles ineligible for registration


Read more: Texas revokes dune buggy and kit car titles and registrations citing safety issues

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post #46 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 03:30 AM
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@glb - I too hope other states donít follow Texasí lead. I linked to an article on the same subject in a previous post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen View Post
...Arguments that insurance is available or that a certain state (not Texas!) will allow you to register an Atom...
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post #47 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by ACE51 View Post
You can't beat a Ariel Atom for all out fun.

Had two different spec race atom's and they were the most affordable race car I've ever owned. Easy on brakes (1 set of $120 pads a season), tires (2 sets a season), and several oil changes.

Was able to put over 1000 miles on the Nomad last year at Monterrey, what a blast their new car is!

The Nomad on the streets of Cannery road with a Saudi P1.
The dream is to leave an atom at a mountain house and go visit on weekends haha

I drove one at VIR several years ago and had an absolute blast. Those cars are to the Elise as the Elise is to other cars in terms of fun factor, handling, etc.

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post #48 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Glen View Post
I’m open to new information - I look forward to reading your corrections.

Glen
I see you posted something like 8 new different posts, and a quick scan of a few posts showed more misinformation, so I didn't bother reading the rest.

But, this is the answer:
Quote:
Originally Posted by acslater View Post
Yea, from my understanding you just have to do it as a kit car and can register it as such.
+1.

See also:
- Any Lotus 7 replica (ie. birkin, westfield, caterham, locost)
- Any Noble / Rossion
- Any Factory Five car (ie. cobra, 818)
- Any Superformance car

All of these are seen as "Kit / Assembled" cars. WHO does the assembling, usually doesn't matter -- as long as the vehicle isn't sold with the powertrain installed. Nobles / Rossion's were sold sans powertrain, but the car itself was already assembled. Then you had the importer (1G) install the powertrain or you took your complete rolling chassis to another shop to install.

Ariel, from my understand, does this all in house.


Once you have a completed car, you do whatever the registering state requires... safety inspection, Smog, etc for an assembled vehicle. California is one of the harder states, since they only issue a certain number of assembled vehicle registration tickets.
Insurance is super easy, provide title and a VIN to Hagerty / Grundy and now you have 'agreed value insurance'. I've already made a windshield claim against my car and it was pretty easy to deal with.

Yes, Texas has revoked some registrations for Ariels -- but it's theorized because Texas is trying to get rid of the massive amounts of people driving their ATV-like vehicles on public roads.

Once you have a registration and insurance, you can now drive your Ariel / Noble / Caterham / Whatever on the street legally.


Edit: I realize a lot of the above info is more or less, irrelevant, but helps with process on how people get their kit cars, street legal.
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post #49 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 08:24 AM
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His information is accurate, he's just approaching the issue from a different standard than how we interpreted the initial commentary. More a question of state law versus federal regulations, and in this case the NHTSA has made it clear that it's up to the states to enforce the FMVSS or to determine which cars are eligible for registration/operation on public roadways. It's still illegal from a federal perspective, but the states are the ones who have to enforce it, and many don't.

I can understand where Glen's coming from in terms of morals and liability, too - have you seen some of the "roadworthy" hot rods registered under SB100? Same issue with those ATVs in Texas. Some knucklehead builds a POS without brakes, gets it legally registered and then t-bones a bus full of school children, and it was only possible because the local regulators are a) incompetent and b) don't even know what's legal, safe, etc.
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post #50 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 08:29 AM
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Troll

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Originally Posted by HondaCRX View Post
I see you posted something like 8 new different posts, and a quick scan of a few posts showed more misinformation, so I didn't bother reading the rest.
So you're a troll. That's too bad.

It has become fashionable to make false statements as a means of promoting a viewpoint. If you have something to gain by making the false statement, it's called lying, something our president has taken to a new level. This type of behavior is designed to shut down the exchange of ideas and to prevent others from learning the truth.

Your demonstrably false statement and then your stated unwillingness to even bother reading a rational rebuttal looks for all the world like you're in this to provoke some sort of reaction from others, not join in a productive conversation. I hope the other members of this forum will continue to call out such obnoxious behavior in this forum and label it for what it is.

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post #51 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by acslater View Post
...and in this case the NHTSA has made it clear that it's up to the states to enforce the FMVSS or to determine which cars are eligible for registration/operation on public roadways...
I appreciate your comments and the polite exchange of ideas.

Your quote above illuminates a key point about state and federal law. It is generally not up to the states to enforce federal law: they don't have the responsibility and more importantly, they most often do not have the authority, especially in civil matters such as the enforcement of the FMVSS. You need look no further than the current debate over ICE trying to force states and localities to cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration law. There are a very few circumstances where other than federal authorities can enforce immigration law, but they are (must be) spelled out in the law. (See this article for an older analysis.)

Here are a few quotes from the State of Virginia letter that you likely relied upon for your quote above:

Quote:
Originally Posted by State of Virginia DMV
DMV's response expanded upon a statement made previously regarding the possibility of registering these vehicles without requiring FMVSS compliance or exemption. NHTSA says that a state is free to determine what vehicles can be registered in the state; however, the registration would have to be limited to intrastate-only and the owners would have to understand that the operation of a vehicle that does not properly comply with applicable FMVSS is a violation of federal law, even if legal in-state.
Quote:
Originally Posted by State of Virginia DMV
DMV clarified that NHTSA acknowledges that a state is free to choose the types of vehicles it registers; however, a state's decision to register vehicles that do not meet the FMVSS does not constitute an exemption from the FMVSS. State laws permitting such registration would only govern use of that vehicle on an intrastate basis. As a result, a noncompliant, but otherwise properly registered, vehicle could be subject to penalties if it were driven across state lines or onto federal property, such as a military base or Veterans Affairs medical facility.
The first quote describes NHTSA acknowledging that states are free to determine their own vehicle registration requirements. The reference to "intrastate" simply means a state registration is only valid in the state that issues it unless another state agrees to honor it. States generally honor each other's registrations, but they are not required to and there is no formal nationwide agreement (such as the Driver's License Compact that all but 3 states adhere to). So the point is if you drove a California-registered Atom into Texas, Texas would be free to cite you for an invalid registration and make you tow it off the road or out of the state.

The second quote clarifies that state law cannot provide an exemption to federal law and whether or not a vehicle in violation of the FMVSS crosses state lines, it would be subject to federal enforcement actions. The citation of "federal property" is a red herring: you don't have to be on federal property to be subject to federal law ... hopefully this point is obvious.

A key point about the FMVSS that is often overlooked is that a manufacturer - whether that be Ford, TMI or a private party completing a kit car - self-certifies compliance with the FMVSS. In the absence of a challenge by the enforcing authority (the feds), states have few options but to assume that a manufacturer has met their obligation under Federal law.

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Last edited by Glen; 11-09-2017 at 09:19 AM.
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post #52 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Glen View Post
So you're a troll. That's too bad.
Honestly, the way I've been reading this thread, one could easily argue that you're the Troll,
by starting an argument on the "street legal"ness of the Arial Atom.

Can one (thru proper (and legal) methods/channels) LEGALLY register, insure and drive these on streets? YES
= Street Legal.

it's kind've absurd to argue otherwise.

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post #53 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 11:19 AM
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Hi Guys,

LONG time since posting. Had a 05 Elise years ago. Loved it and always had my sights on an Ariel.

Bought one, delivered this week. We do live in TEXAS.

Here are the facts:

1) Insurance is a non-issue. Easy to get insurance. Rally and many others are ensuring Ariels and other similar cars.
2) Buying a pre-owned, titled and plated car makes your path easier vs buying new. With that said the guys at TMI know everything it takes in every state to make it happen. The owners and staff at TMI are incredible, helpful and truly love Ariels.
3) I personally know several guys who have registered and plated Ariels here in Texas. You read that correctly. Again, the internet is abuzz with BS info.

We elected to register the car in Montana where we do own property etc. Montana has a super simple process for even non-residents to reg their cars there. We will store the car in Texas in the not so hot months and there in the super hot Texas summer months.

Here is the low down:
- the car is owned by an LLC based in Montana.
- LLC owns the asset (car)
- total cost is less than $1000.
- annual renewals do not require anything other than paying a fee for a new sticker. No smog, no inspections.
- It is not illegal in any way to do this. There are no legal precedent etc that should create any red flags. Google to your heart's content. (In CA the chatter will tell you that the state is 'going after' people with out of state plates. How can they? It is not illegal for someone to drive an out of state car in CA.) To be clear you CAN register your Ariel IN CA. (buy a used one already registered if you are a CA resident) It is not illegal for someone to drive a company car (owned by an LLC) with out of state plates. There could be a legit argument made for someone who lives in CA and drives the car daily. I believe in most states if you drive the car daily for 180 days you have to get it locally registered. (maybe 120 days). Think out of state kids going to local colleges. They don't have to become residents of the state where they attend school. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclope...ntana-llc.html
- No sales tax. Y'all can chatter about the ethics and morals of legal tax avoidance all you want. Most if not all the chatter online is from people who are expressing their personal beliefs about all the evil 'rich people' registering their billion dollar cars
in Montana to avoid sales tax. Guess what, they also register in other states that also don't charge sales tax. This sort of thing has been going on forever..always will. The anger towards people who register out of state is misplaced. Even if someone is registering in a sales tax free state to avoid sales taxes the real cause of this the state over charging sales tax.

Hope all of this helps.

I know its confusing parsing thru those who present their opinions as facts vs the real truth.
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post #54 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Gizmo3000 View Post
Honestly, the way I've been reading this thread, one could easily argue that you're the Troll,
by starting an argument on the "street legal"ness of the Arial Atom.
Hardly. The original poster asked for comments about driving an Atom on the street and I'll I've done is provide the facts (with extensive authoritative references) so he could make an informed choice on the matter. Having a lot to say about a complex issue that most people don't fully understand is not trolling. Making statements that are only designed to provoke a reaction without any sort of basis in facts - like what @HondaCRX contributed to this thread - that's trolling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizmo3000 View Post
Can one (thru proper (and legal) methods/channels) LEGALLY register, insure and drive these on streets? YES
= Street Legal.

it's kind've absurd to argue otherwise.
Unless you come up with some contorted definition of the word "legal" to fit your own desires, violating federal law is in every sense not legal. That you don't like what I've said or make the same choices I do ... these things do not invalidate the facts as I've presented them.

Since my original post, I've become aware of Rally and others have posted that State Farm insures the Atom. These things disprove my statement that you would be unlikely to obtain insurance - I'm fine with that. Here's a scan of my policy with State Farm:



As you can see from the highlighted text, in the course of agreeing to the insurance contract, you personally represent to State Farm the Atom is a "car." TMI themselves will tell you the Atom is not a car "designed for use mainly on public roads." That means you would have to lie and commit fraud in order to obtain a payout on an event involving an Atom. State Farm has been consistently rated in the Top Ten Worst Insurance companies for years, mainly because they deny, delay and defend nearly every claim. If you don't think State Farm will challenge whether or not your Atom was designed for use on public roads, you've never dealt with their adjusters.

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post #55 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 12:26 PM
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Good lord dude....you really think insurance companies don't know what they are insuring? You are really on a mission to be RIGHT. Not about actually passing along helpful information. Go drive your Elise and enjoy the day....
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post #56 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 12:31 PM
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Glen,

I do not believe I would call your conversation to be "Trolling". You have pointed out some very interesting facts about registering kit cars, etc. I have to agree with you that if you register one of these cars, you are taking some risk. Most likely, the worse consequences would not occur but they do exist and need to be considered.

For the rest of you, what Glen is saying is no different than taking your car to the track, having an accident and hoping that your insurance is going to cover it. You might get lucky, you might not.

99% of the time, you are going to get away with what you do as long as you do not point it out the authorities. What Glen is saying, that 1% he is not willing to risk and if you do hit the 1% then be ready to not have a leg to stand on.

Glen, thanks for giving the facts about this. It has been a very interesting read.

Later,
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post #57 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 02:01 PM
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Let's keep it friendly please.

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post #58 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by LouieLaguna View Post
Good lord dude....you really think insurance companies don't know what they are insuring? You are really on a mission to be RIGHT. Not about actually passing along helpful information. Go drive your Elise and enjoy the day....
Funny enough, Geico told one Lotus owner in Michigan they wouldn't insure the brand, but then they insured mine in that state. They were not pleasant at all to deal with during the nearly two year process, but they covered it. So even when they don't know what they are insuring, you have a document that says they'll pay for damage barring any explicitly written exclusions apply.

Also funny enough @eldonz , it was on track. They excluded racing and stunt driving, not HPDEs. Blindly hoping insurance will cover a track day is foolish, but reading your policy, seeing that it is allowed, and THEN hoping they cover it is different entirely. Same as with the kit car exemptions. Since they apply, you'd be reasonable to use them as appropriate.

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post #59 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 03:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen View Post
Hardly. The original poster asked for comments about driving an Atom on the street and I'll I've done is provide the facts (with extensive authoritative references) so he could make an informed choice on the matter. Having a lot to say about a complex issue that most people don't fully understand is not trolling. Making statements that are only designed to provoke a reaction without any sort of basis in facts - like what @HondaCRX contributed to this thread - that's trolling.
yet, even by your own admission, the facts you provided were false.
- which provoked reaction.

Street Legal means it's legal to drive a car on the street. period.
or as wikipedia puts it:
"Street legal or road going refers to a vehicle such as an automobile, motorcycle, or light truck that is equipped and licensed for use on public roads, being therefore roadworthy"
and that's how it's referred to in all automotive circles and forums

You've provided tons of detail to back up your claim that these cars aren't legal because of "federal laws and regulations"
However, the fact remains, these cars are STREET legal in many states. - just as our bumper-less cars and our airbag-less classic cars are
If you want to provide a factual answer, then you could have said "yes, they are street legal on the state level".. but not on the federal level..etc

By all means, go on to some ariel atom, factory-five, cobra kit-car forums and boast how their cars are "not street legal" and see what kind of reaction you get from them if you don't consider that trolling
or go to Colorado and other states that allow marijuana and tell people with pot that it's not legal and they're breaking "Federal Law"?

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post #60 of 63 (permalink) Old 11-09-2017, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gizmo3000 View Post
...or go to Colorado and other states that allow marijuana and tell people with pot that it's not legal and they're breaking "Federal Law"?
Finally, some comic relief! Dude . . . I live in Colorado and I'm fine with the state of marijuana laws, just like I'm fine with someone driving their Ariel Atom.





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