Release 05-27      

December 16, 2005


Jerry Martin
Gennet Paauwe
Dimitri Stanich
(916) 322-2990

Karen Caesar
(626) 575-6728
Attorney General Files $20 Million Complaint Against Yamaha

SACRAMENTO -- On behalf of the Air Resources Board (ARB), the California Attorney General's Office has filed a $20 million complaint against Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, and two of its dealers for allegedly circumventing air pollution control laws and importing more than 400 motorcycles not certified for sale in California.

"We have worked extremely hard to improve California's air quality and have made great strides," said ARB Executive Officer, Catherine Witherspoon. "We simply can't afford to let manufacturers and dealers sell vehicles that do not meet our emissions standards, which is what Yamaha appears to have done. We need to send a powerful message that this will not be tolerated in California."

Several dealers involved in the case have already reached mutual settlements with the Air Resources Board. The parties that could not reach a settlement were referred to the California Attorney General's office for civil prosecution. The civil complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court seeks penalties totaling $19,610,000.00 from Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, San Jose Yamaha and South Seas Cycle Exchange of Honolulu, HI.

It is a violation of California law to import new motor vehicles for sale, use or registration which are not certified to meet California's stringent emissions standards, the toughest in the nation. According to the ARB investigation, Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA, imported more than 100 illegal non-California-certified motorcycles, registered them to Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA in California, obtained California license plates, and then eventually sold some of them to California residents. In most cases, these were popular motorcycles that were in great demand and were hard to acquire in California.

It was also discovered during the investigation that representatives from Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA were informing their dealers in California that if they needed these specific models they could obtain illegal, non-California-certified versions from other Yamaha dealers outside of California. One dealer imported nearly 200 and sold all of them to California residents.

"We regret having to resort to litigation in this case, but it was necessary because our negotiations failed to reach a settlement. We are hoping that this case will have a deterrent effect on manufacturers and dealers who may intend to elude our strong emissions laws," added Witherspoon.

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.