The government overseeing the crumbling dystopia that is The California Republic continues to find new and unique ways to make people move out of the state, with the latest being a regulatory ban on copper in automotive brake pads on certain muscle cars. This specifically affects certain 2021 Camaro variants with Brembo brakes.
Human feces in the streets? Overgrown forests contributing to larger wild fires? Anti-commerce red tape? The governor breaking his own lockdown edicts? No, no. Copper in a few car brakes are the real problem.
“Due to restrictions in California and Washington state related to copper brake pads, customers in those states cannot order a 2021 Camaro SS, ZL1 and 1LE for delivery after January 1, 2021,” said Chevrolet Communications Manager Kevin Kelly to MC&T. “Customers can, however, purchase these models from available dealer stock in those states.”
Kelly clarified to MC&T that other vehicles in the Chevrolet lineup are not affected. So C8 Corvette customers won’t have to worry. The only states affecting the 2021 Camaro in this regard are California and nearby Washington, for now.
“We will resume allowing customers in California and Washington state to order the Camaro SS, ZL1 and 1LE models in 2022 model year when we introduce a new brake system that is compliant with the copper requirements,” said Kelly.
Crosstown rivals Ford and Dodge were aware of the upcoming regulatory change, but were able to adjust to copper-free brakes in time for their respective muscle cars to be affected.
“Trust and environmental responsibility is paramount at Ford Motor Company, and we are always ensuring that our vehicles meet or exceed federal and state regulatory guidelines. Mustang, the world’s best-selling sports car, has a copper-free brake system for 2021 model year, meeting the new regulatory requirements in California and Washington, and ensuring our faithful fans as well as future enthusiasts can purchase and enjoy the fast, fun and affordability of our iconic muscle car,” said Ford Mustang Communications Manager Berj Alexanian to MC&T.
FCA was also proactive in the regulatory change for its muscle cars. The Dodge Charger, Challenger and Durango R/T and SRT models all received updates for the 2021 model year to go copper free in their brake systems. A formal statement from Dodge was not available at the time of this writing.
Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet all use Brembo brakes for their respective performance models. Why GM was unable to adjust to the change in time with the 2021 Camaro when others managed to do so is unclear at this time. It’s more puzzling considering that these laws were enacted a full decade ago, signed into law by Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the time. Automakers had a full decade to adjust.
Copper from the brake pads, as it was found in studies, turns into dust particles, and finds its way into waterways. Such levels of copper are toxic to many water-dwelling creatures, including fish, plants, and amphibians, which eventually works its way up the food chain, much like mercury in fish. The law details that brake pads sold in California (and Washington) couldn’t have more than 5 percent copper by weight. That number reduces to just 0.5 percent copper by weight by 2025.
Copper is used in brakes because of the metal’s ability to quickly and effectively dissipate heat, and allow for smooth braking.
Although the rule was put in place in only two states for now, trade groups representing the auto industry signed an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 to phase out the use of copper in brake pads completely. The groups signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) proclaiming that the auto industry would implement the “Copper-Free Brake Initiative.” Demonstrating awareness of the matter, General Motors was a member of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that signed the MOU.
According to Car & Driver, a spokesperson from Brembo confirms that the company currently makes copper-free brake pads, but nevertheless does still make pads with copper, and it’s ultimately up to the automakers to comply with regulations.