Parts Manufacturers Testify on California Copper Brake Bill

Terry Heffelfinger, director of product engineering, R&D, and quality for Affinia Global Brake and Chassis, testified today before the California Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, offering comments on SB 346, a bill that would mandate a reduction in the use of copper in brake products.

Heffelfinger testified on behalf of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA); Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) and Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA), affiliate associations of MEMA; the Brake Manufacturers Council, an operating council of AASA; and the Heavy Duty Brake Manufacturers Council (HDBMC), an operating council of HDMA.

"While we understand the intent of the bill, we oppose the bill as it is currently written," said Bob McKenna, MEMA's president and CEO. "We hope that the Committee will recognize that further amendments are needed to allow for practical implementation of its provisions."

Heffelfinger raised the following key points:

  • The 2025 deadline provided for in the bill does not allow suppliers and vehicle makers to collaborate in the introduction of acceptable new brake systems that meet customer expectations for stopping power and brake system performance and
  • The Committee should consider a timeline that allows for sufficient R&D to test, validate and verify the manufacture of safe and effective brake materials.
Additionally, Heffelfinger said that the bill needs a viable "off-ramp" assessment period to accommodate unforeseen circumstances that may delay compliance with the 0.5 percent copper limit as well as changes to the inventory run-off and certification process. Also, as the overall goal from all stakeholders is to improve water quality in highly populated urban watersheds, the California Legislature should consider a broad based and relevant funding mechanism to cover the bill's implementation costs.

"MEMA has been very involved with the bill since its introduction," McKenna said. "We are grateful to have the opportunity to testify before the committee and hope our points will be taken into consideration. The legislation must create a balanced approach that addresses the concerns of brake manufacturers and the challenges facing California. The result will be a more workable bill for brake manufacturers that still meets the necessary environmental objectives," he added.

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