Aston Martin has been granted a temporary exemption to new US safety rules that would have stopped it selling hundreds of cars in the US.
The British firm applied for a temporary exemption to side-impact federal safety standards in March saying the rules would cause "substantial economic hardship". The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said today that it would give the company longer to comply due to the niche nature of its business.
"The basis for the grant is that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a low-volume manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard," NHTSA said in a statement filed online.
The NHTSA has phased-in requirements for side airbags and other safety advances since 2010 and the rules affecting the coupe versions of Aston Martin's DB9 grand tourers and Vantage sport cars came into effect in September.
The exemption now runs until the end of August 2016 for the DB9 and an extra year for the Vantage. The same rules will not affect convertible versions of both models – which cost roughly £125,000 – until September 2015, but the cars now have an exemption until the end of August 2017.
A spokeswoman for Aston Martin said the decision meant that both coupe models could be sold from Friday. Had the brand failed to win an exemption, it would have affected up to 670 vehicles over three years.
Its decision will be a relief to recently appointed CEO Andy Palmer as he attempts to turn around the high-end brand, which reported pre-tax losses of £25.4m in 2013.
In August, James R Walker, chairman of the US Aston Martin dealers advisory council, said in a letter to federal safety regulators that without the exemption the brand risked losing some of its US dealers.
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