Release 09-13
February 17, 2009

    Karen Caesar
(626) 575-6728

ARB fines San Francisco scooter importer $4,350 for improper vehicle engine labels

SACRAMENTO- The California Air Resources Board fined San Francisco-based Bajaj USA in January $4,350 for selling imported motor scooters with incorrect emissions labels.

The violations were discovered by ARB enforcement officers who noticed the improper engine emissions certification labels on the scooters.

“Retailers are as responsible as the manufacturers of vehicles for assuring that the products they sell meet California’s tough air pollution requirements,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “We are seeing increasing numbers of scooters being sold as an inexpensive alternative to cars, as well as for recreational use. On a mile per mile basis, they actually create more smog than passenger cars.” 

In March 2005, Bajaj USA ordered a shipment of the Chetak model scooters from the factory in India. The vehicles arrived in 2006, labeled with 2006 emission labels. The scooters were certified for sale and use for the 2005 model year but not 2006, and as a result, they were improperly labeled and in violation of California law. Improper labeling a vehicle can mislead consumers, who may think they are buying a vehicle from a particular model year or that the vehicle is California certified, when in reality it is not.

All new vehicles sold in the state must possess an accurate California emissions label, in addition to a federal emissions label. The fine is $50 per vehicle, but for large retailers the penalty can add up quickly due to their large inventories. Improperly labeled vehicles affect both the consumer and the retailer.

 As part of the settlement, Bajaj USA has 60 days to send out the correct labels to the owners of all the affected scooters, and provide a self-addressed stamped letter or postcard for the customer to sign and return once they have affixed the new label. Within one week after the 60-day period, Bajaj USA must provide a written report to ARB with the number of labels affixed, and the number that have not been affixed and the reason for the delay.

Bajaj USA must also pay $4,350 to the California Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California's air quality and reduce hazardous ozone.

Ozone, also known as urban smog, is one of the harmful byproducts of vehicle emissions.  It can affect human health in many ways including: itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throat, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, cough, heightened asthma rates, and increased cardiopulmonary cases and premature deaths.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency.  ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy.  The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.