Mixed Industry Reactions to End of California Auto Glass Regulations Development; CARB Says New Rule Will Be Released Later This Year

April 1, 2010

A mixed response has come from across the industry since the announcement on Friday that the work on California auto glass regulations, developed early last year, has come to an end. Many glass manufacturers had supported the development of the regulations, which called for reflective glass in vehicles with the model year of 2012 or later, noting they might have helped the promotion of value-added glass, while some repair industry representatives had expressed concerns previously about the regulations and the issues that might come about by repairing certain types of reflective glass. (CLICK HERE for related story.)

In light of the announcement, Rob Vandal, director of advanced product development for Guardian Automotive, says many manufacturers had already put a great deal of work into getting ready for the enactment of the regulations, as they were officially passed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) last June.

"Normally after Board approval, which occurred last June, the regulations end up being adopted after the appropriate edits and comments periods have passed," says Vandal. "In this case, this late cancellation is particularly difficult for the supply base as the
proverbial horse had already left the barn. In order to be prepared for 2012 model year the suppliers and OEMs had already made investments and prototypes. These investments are now in question, along with any jobs they created."

While CARB representatives have said they will now develop a performance-based regulation instead of focusing solely on auto glass, Vandal says he believes this was already what was in the works.

"The comment is made often that this was not a 'performance-based' regulation," he says. "I must disagree in that it specified the performance requirements for solar transmission of glazing, [and] nothing else, much like today's building codes. It did not specify any materials or processes to be used, just the solar performance level. There were competing technologies available to meet the goal."

CARB had attributed the cancellation in part to concerns about electronic interference. However, Pittsburgh Glass Works' Mukesh Rustagi says he doesn't believe this would have been an issue, based on vehicles in use throughout the world.

"The issue of interference with electronic signals is a red herring that was brought out by some opposition groups," he says. "Reflective glazing has been used in [more than] a hundred million vehicles around the world and there have been no issues of electronic signal interference. European automakers offer the reflective glazing in a wide variety of vehicles and European consumers have been benefiting from this technology for many years. In addition, there are after-market reflective films that use the same technology, and these films have been used in millions of vehicles around the world. The consumers that use these aftermarket films do so voluntarily."

He adds, "We are certainly disappointed with CARB backing away from this important regulation that would have been good for the consumer, good for the country, and good for the environment. The most disappointing part is that the decision to back away was based on a technically faulty report from one source."

SuperGlass Windshield Repair president David Casey had been in contact with CARB as a representative of the National Windshield Repair Association about how the regulations might impact windshield repair in the state; he previously advised glassBYTEs.com™/AGRR magazine that he had fears about the requirements and what would happen to repair if manufacturers chose to place the reflective coating on Surface No. 2 of the glass (CLICK HERE for related story).

"Even though there were a number of reasons that the 'cool glass' bill was terminated by CARB, I was very gratified that the director was open to hearing about the repair issue with the coated glass," says Casey in response to last week's announcement. "She was concerned and did raise the issue with manufacturers. I commend the CARB board for looking beyond the immediate goal to include the long-term effects of the bill in their decision."

CARB released further information late Tuesday about its decision to cease work on the auto glass regulations, pointing out that the group was running out of time to finalize the rule. The Board had announced in February that the final draft of the regulations since the December public comment period, would be released in March. (CLICK HERE for related story.)

"It was determined that insufficient time remained on the rulemaking calendar to achieve consensus on the rule, particularly with regard to perceived problems with metallic glazing and the operation of cell phones and GPS ankle bracelets," writes CARB. "Because consensus could not be reached within the timeframe required, the 15-day notice for Cool Cars will not be issued. The result is that the Cool Cars regulation, while approved by the Board in June 2009, will not become law."

It continues, "In its place staff will work to incorporate a performance-based approach to cooling vehicle interiors into the next iteration of the light-duty motor vehicle greenhouse gas regulations for 2017 and later model years. This next phase of the motor vehicle
greenhouse gas emission regulations will be linked with the formerly separate standards setting specific toxic and criteria tailpipe emissions limits (Low Emission Vehicle or LEV standards) into a single regulatory framework for advanced clean cars."

The group expects to release a new regulation during a hearing later this year, and hopes to phase in the greenhouse gas portion of the rule in the 2017 model year.

"At this time, it is unclear what form the performance-based approach to cooling vehicle interiors will take in the new rules," writes CARB. "As a result, all activity by the Cool Cars performance option workgroups will cease. Instead, the public may participate in the development of the performance metric for cooling vehicle interiors as part of the regulatory development for advanced clean cars."


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