Originally posted by Sownman
Why not purchase a 111R and import ?
Because the DOT regs specifically prohibit it. You can not bring in a non-federal spec. car if the manufacturer makes (or will make) a US version of the car.
There are also some exceptions for individuals bringing in a single
car that does not meet certain federal safety regulations (i.e. air bags), but there are absolutely no
exceptions for not meeting EPA regulations (i.e. smog legal and
OBD-II equipped). Since Lotus will bring in the Federal Elise, you cannot bring in a 111R (at least not for street use).
The Seven is a kit car, not a manufactured car, so there are exceptions for kit cars. Even if you disassembled a non-US Elise, that doesn't make it a kit car.
As to the Toyota engined Elise being sold elsewhere before the US; Lotus might just be working out the bugs on the 111R, before it gets to the US. Past experience (the M100) has show that US purchaser's expectations are higher and we are more "sue happy" than others. Finally, maybe they are just building a batch of them to ship them all over in a short time, so that they start getting spread all over the country at once, rather than people on one coast getting upset because the other coast got them first...