Today Is Unofficial “Lobby For The Hobby” Day

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I recently became aware of two things:

1. Hot Rod, Motor Trend, Four Wheeler, Off Road, and others (90 web and print properties total) are all owned by one company. I guess I should have paid closer attention.

2. Today, November 1st, 2010, is SEMA’s unofficial “lobby for the hobby” day, where anyone who is an avid automotive enthusiast is encouraged to think about recent regulatory changes that endanger automotive hobbies. For example:

  • Changes in off-road access rules for federal lands
  • Changes in federal fuel economy and emissions requirements
  • Changes in state emissions laws (California, I’m looking at you)

While laws are always changing, the case could be made that the pace and direction of these changes has been “anti-automotive” over the last 2 or so years. SEMA and Source Interlink Media want you to think about these issues today, which just happens to be the day before election day.

Is this a legitimate gripe? Judge for yourself.

Source Interlink Media Lobbying Consumers

Source Interlink Media has splashed red "BANNED" imagery on nearly all of their November magazine covers. Subtle, isn't it?


Why Lobby For The Hobby Day Is A Little Insulting

First, my personal gripe: I consider myself an educated voter. I like to think that I consider all the issues before casting a ballot. Therefore, I don’t appreciate it when someone (regardless of party or perspective) tries to generate an emotional response. Source Interlink Media’s decision to run “BANNED” images on almost all of their November magazine covers is a classic example of a company trying to do my thinking for me. I think it’s distasteful for a media company that prides itself on reporting news and information to make such a blatant attempt to influence an election.

This website may not be any better, but I’ve tried to present the info below in a balanced manner. I hope that I have been successful.

Changes in Federal Land Access Rules

Earlier this year I wrote about changing wilderness regulations that threatened off-roading – everything from jumping in your Tundra and climbing a mountain to riding your mountain bike on a singletrack bike trail. The Blue Ribbon Coalition – an advocacy group that champions both off-road hobbies and responsible land use – has documented dozens of instances of what they believe to be poorly considered and/or unfair regulations (my words).

While it’s hard for me to point to one specific instance of an unfair land use rule change, the expanded use of the “wilderness” designation I wrote about back in May (see link above) is a good example of the concerns around this issue. Of course, like most things, both sides have some great points.

Changes in Emissions Laws

This concern covers a lot of ground, but I think it really falls into four groups.

  1. Major automakers who are concerned about emissions rules that add cost and complexity to vehicles.
  2. Recreational vehicle manufacturers who see emissions rules as a threat to their business, a large portion of which depends upon low cost engine technologies that aren’t exactly “clean” when compared to brand new cars, trucks, and SUVs.
  3. Auto accessory companies who make engine performance parts that must receive certification from various state and federal regulatory authorities.
  4. People (some environmentalist, some not) who want all motorized forms of transport to be as clean as possible.

The thing is, every corner has a point. I don’t think any logical, rationale person would argue against cleaner emissions, but I can see why adding $1,000 of emissions equipment to a $5,000 rec. vehicle is a big deal. I can even see why adding another $1,000 of emissions equipment to a new Toyota Tundra is a big deal, not to mention the fact that federally required emissions equipment can break and cost people a lot of money. Again, all sides have their merits.

Changes in Fuel Economy Rules

New fuel economy rules are slowly but surely making new trucks more expensive. Most recently, PickupTrucks.com reported that new truck regs will add $1,000-$1,500 to the price of a heavy duty truck by 2018. Of course, in this same article, it’s mentioned that increases in fuel efficiency should help truck buyers recover the additional costs relatively quickly.

Other fuel economy rules already in place are promoting more hybrids, more plug-in electrics, etc., and this is potentially threatening to auto accessory companies. After all, there’s no need for cold air intakes or exhaust systems on an electric car.

Of course, with plug-in hybrids and improved fuel economy, we’ll need less oil from places like Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. As much as we like superchargers and exhaust systems, I think we might all give them up if it meant we could stop sending so much money overseas for oil.

Then again…why not let the market decide? If people want more efficient vehicles, isn’t that what they’ll buy?

As you can see, I can go back and forth all day.

Comments Are Open

It’s my sincerest hope the the information here is both balanced and considerate. If you would like to comment, I hope you take a moment to consider all sides of the issue. Also, for the sake of sanity, I’m not going to moderate the comments here…unless they contain offensive speech (and we all know what that is), go for it. Tell us how you feel, what you think, who you’re voting for, etc. Let it fly.

Then, let’s put it all aside because starting tomorrow I’m covering SEMA…and it is going to be a blast!

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