Friday, April 10, 2009

Trial of the BugE by NY DMV

So, I make a big sigh and embark on the obstacle filled path of the home built vehicle maker rather than the easier path available to those vehicle owners that have vehicles that already have a VIN. So, I write my letter to the DMV stating that I've built a vehicle based on the BugE kit and would like an information packet to start the process of getting a "home built" vehicle approved on New York State roadways.

I'm expecting a long wait for the packet, long wait for an inspection date and a laundry list of wants when it comes to blessing the BugE for New York roadways. I'm sure people at the DMV do not like approving home built vehicles. There are probably lots of engineering questions since this catch-all category includes everything from motorized furniture to parade floats. So, I'm expecting a form with all sorts of hurdles and mods I will need to make to claim the BugE is safe. Of course, in my favor, the BugE is considered a motorcycle in trike configuration so the national requirements should not be so strict as for a car but I have no idea what kooky New York State laws may lurk about. Perhaps it will need strobe lights or need to be painted florescent orange or carry several fire extinguishers. It may get plates, but then get lumped into the category of regular NEVs which are governed to not exceed 25MPH! Not that it's that big of a deal. The surrounding roadways are 35mph so even with a NEV restriction, the BugE should still be a useful vehicle for me.

However, instead of getting a thick compliance packet with a mile-long check list, I get a phone call from a representative stating that he doesn't think the BugE is fit for roadway use, ironically BECAUSE it's a kit! The reasoning probably is, if the kit maker didn't issue a VIN, it must have been denied by NHTSA or DOT at some point so it's crap. Denied unseen - even without an inspection!

But that is only the first skirmish in what looks to be a long war. Not to be a person who accepts a denial of a BugE even without some sort of inspection or at least a set of hurdles to overcome, I respond in writing and point out that the BugE has been accepted in 4 different states & I give references (since then, I have learned that BugE vehicles are being driven legally in 23 states so his case for a blanket denial of the BugE design is totally without merit) and of course I offer to make mods on whatever may be lacking for compliance with New York State laws.

So, I've enlisted the help of the kit designer Mark Murphy. I see by email correspondence that Mark and my caseworker have had a back and fourth Q&A. Things are looking good. Looks like the main problem technical services has is with the lighting, specifically with the headlight location and making sure all lighting meets DOT/SAE standards.

Meanwhile, I've accepted that I'll be carting the BugE around to several locations so I've installed a trailer hitch on my regular car so carting the BugE around can be done inexpensively.

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