2021 Chevy Camaro SS, ZL1 Can’t Be Sold in California, Washington

  • Chevrolet won’t be able to sell the Camaro SS, 1LE, and ZL1 in California and Washington beginning next year due to the copper content of the brake pads.
  • California and Washington both enacted laws in 2010 saying that by 2021, brake pads had to have less than 5 percent copper content due to the toxicity of copper when it reaches waterways.
  • Those Camaros will return to the California and Washington markets in 2022, but it’s unclear why Chevy didn’t change the brakes prior to the 2021 model year.

    Back in 2010, California and Washington enacted laws declaring that beginning in 2021, the brake pads sold in their respective states couldn’t have more than 5 percent copper by weight. By 2025, the brakes had to have less than 0.5 percent copper by weight. It’s because of this rule that starting on January 1, Chevrolet won’t be able to sell the 2021 Camaro SS, 1LE, and ZL1 in those states due to the copper content of the Brembo brakes, which exceeds 5 percent.

    Sales for those versions of the Camaro will resume in California and Washington for the 2022 model year once the brakes are replaced, a Chevrolet spokesperson told C/D. And, since the law goes into effect beginning on January 1 of next year, 2021 models that are currently in dealer inventory can still be sold in the new year.

    The Chevy spokesperson wouldn’t clarify why the brakes weren’t replaced in advance for the 2021 model year, rather than the 2022 model year. The states gave automakers and other brake pad manufacturers ten years to find new technologies and replace the brake pads with high levels of copper content.

    The copper from the brake pads, it was found, turns to dust and finds its way into waterways. Once it’s there, it becomes toxic to many water-dwelling creatures, including fish, plants, and amphibians. The copper is used in the brake pads because it’s able to quickly and effectively dissipate heat and allow for smooth braking.

    Although the rule was put in place in only two states, California and Washington, trade groups representing the auto industry and automakers signed an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 to phase out the use of copper in brake pads. The groups signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU)—and a non-binding agreement—saying that the auto industry would implement the “Copper-Free Brake Initiative.” At the time of the signing, General Motors was a member of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group which has since merged with others but signed the MOU.

    A spokesperson for Brembo, the supplier of the brakes on the affected 2021 Camaros, told C/D in an email that although Brembo has copper-free brake pads, it does still make pads with copper and it’s up to the automakers to comply with regulations. “Brembo has accordingly been developing copper-free materials for its brake systems supplied to our customers worldwide who have been preparing for enactment of this legislation,” the spokesperson said.

    General Motors doesn’t have any other vehicles that are affected by the legislation going into place, according to the Chevrolet spokesperson, and it’s unclear whether there are vehicles from manufacturers besides GM which can’t be sold beginning next year due to their brakes.

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