It costs an obscene amount of money to get a car certified for sale in the U.S. — and if there isn’t a huge market for a car, that means the per-car certification process can be prohibitively expensive.
The Lotus Elise is a perfect example. Roughly 20 percent of the Elise’s original MSRP covered the $50 million it cost to engineer and prepare the mid-engined sports car for sale in America.
And the Elise, by the way, received side-impact and smart-airbag exemptions from the U.S. government. And it still cost $50 million to certify.
Wonder why you can’t get a diesel-powered, manual-transmission wagon? Or a Hellcat-powered minivan? Or even the Golf GTI’s plaid cloth seats in the mechanically identical VW Jetta GLI?
It’s all because the cost of homologation is so high relative to the number of people who’d buy it that it doesn’t make financial sense. It’s uncool, but that’s why we can’t have nice things.