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NHTSA Nixes Huayra's Entry Into US Market (For Now)

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On: Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 11:32AM | By: Andrew W Davis


NHTSA Nixes Huayra's Entry Into US Market (For Now)

Yes, your friends at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have denied Italian supercar maker Pagani Automobili's latest creation—the Huayra (pronounced “why-rah”)—the exemption the firm’s latest million-dollar creation needed to go on sale in the US in 2012 as planned.

The stumbling point is the federal automotive safety rule that requires all cars—whether or not they can exceed 200 mph—to have “child-safe advanced airbags” installed as standard equipment.

The Huayra doesn’t. So the nits at NHTSA say no Huayras for us.

A more cynical man than I would wonder why Signore Pagani—who said he engineered his carbon-titanium road missile with American-market sales in mind—wouldn’t bother to read our federal guidelines so that it didn’t just SEEM like it would pass muster, but actually WOULD.

That person might also ask if he DID know it wouldn’t meet our regs and was banking solely on the hope that NHTSA would grant him an exemption on the airbag rule based on the “substantial economic hardship” that having to engineer such a system would have imposed on his company, well, what kind of financial hardship would his firm feel if they’d've lost the American market?

Well, luckily for all of you mega-millionaires out there who can’t handle life without a twin-turbo 700-plus horsepower V12 bellowing behind them, there’s a lot more silver lining than cloud in this story.

In the three years between Pagani Automobili’s application for the exemption and now, the company has been working at including the airbags after all, assuming—correctly—that they’d have to do so anyway.

In fact, if the exemption was granted, Pagani’s intent seems to be that it would be using it only to give itself more engineering time to work on the airbag system it planned to install anyway, not to try and ignore the requirement altogether like almost every other “boutique” automaker before it.

Speaking of which, the company has already cleared all of NHTSA’s other hurdles, including the classic deal-breaker, the “crash” testing. In fact, thanks to its racecar-derived design and materials—like its carbon-titanium passenger compartment and automatic fuel shut-off—the Huayra not only passed the agency’s safety requirements, it exceeded them.

As for the new delivery date, the consensus seems to be that it has moved from its planned date of 2012 to mid-2013. But as Pagani is a small company—somewhere around only 60 employees—even if they had the exemption, they planned on delivering only a half-dozen or so of the costly hand-built supercars to our shores.

Pagani says that a factory expansion is in the cards as acceptance into the American market would greatly increase its sales. How greatly? Well, once they’ve got their expanded production capabilities going full speed ahead, Pagani will send us a whopping dozen cars!

So start saving your pennies, kids. After all, 2013 will come sooner than you think.




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