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Thanks to tight regulations, Lotus currently sells only one road-legal car in the US – the Lotus Evora, and even that has stumbled into issues now thanks to increasingly tight safety regulations in the country. The Elise S Cup R and Exige V6 Cup R are sold in the country for track usage only.

There will be no 2015 model year Evora, because Lotus isn’t allowed to sell one as it does not meet strict airbag safety standards. However, the company has a limited number of 2014 model year cars to last the entire 2015, and cars fitted with a new improved airbag system would be ready for 2016.

Lotus Evora

Lotus previously had an exemption from complying with the airbag regulations up to March 8, 2014. This exemption has now expired. The regulation in concern is FMVSS No. 208 S14.7.

The regulation calls for the airbags to be validated in a 56 km/h belted crash to work with multiple crash test dummies. This previously required a 50th percentile male crash dummy but was then updated to include a 5th percentile female crash test dummy as well.

Before this update to include the female crash test dummy, the Evora was fully compliant with FMVSS No. 208. After the update, the Lotus Evora required an exemption from this regulation for the front passenger seat (fully forward seat position) to be on sale.

Lotus Evora

Now that it no longer has the exemption, Lotus has to change the seatbelt buckles, switch to a new airbag ECU, and resubmit the Evora for type approval. The current airbag ECU does not have the capability to monitor whether the seat belt is buckled, and the buckle supplier does not have a suitable buckle switch.

A buckle switch would allow the ECU to fire only the first stage of the air bag inflator for buckled occupants while firing two stages for unbuckled occupants, allowing the stiffness of the air bag to be different for belted and unbelted occupants.