Vision Motor Cars, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption From Certain Requirements of FMVSS No. 126, FMVSS No. 201, and FMVSS No. 208, 38129-38132 [2012-15585]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 26, 2012 / Notices Terminal LP Deepwater Port project, contact Ms. Yvette M. Fields, Director, Office of Deepwater Ports and Offshore Activities, Maritime Administration at 202–366–0926 or Yvette.Fields@dot.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 13, 2012, MARAD received notification from the applicant, TORP Terminal LP, of the withdrawal of its application to own, construct, and operate a deepwater port for a liquefied natural gas deepwater port facility, located approximately 62.6 miles south of Fort Morgan, Alabama in the Federal waters of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) on Main Pass Block 258 and connected to existing offshore pipelines. Consequently, MARAD has terminated all activities pertaining to TORP’s application and has rescinded its Record of Decision for this deepwater port project. All agency records and documents related to the BOET deepwater port license application are being preserved and retained by MARAD and USCG. Further information pertaining to this application may be found in the public docket (see ADDRESSES). Authority: 49 CFR 1.66. By Order of the Maritime Administrator. Dated: June 18, 2012. Julie P. Agarwal, Secretary, Maritime Administration. [FR Doc. 2012–15623 Filed 6–25–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–81–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [Docket No. NHTSA–2012–0085] Vision Motor Cars, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption From Certain Requirements of FMVSS No. 126, FMVSS No. 201, and FMVSS No. 208 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of receipt of petition for temporary exemption. AGENCY: In accordance with the procedures in 49 CFR part 555, Vision Motor Cars, Inc., (VMCI) has petitioned the agency for temporary exemption from certain requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 126, Electronic Stability Control Systems, FMVSS No. 201, Occupant Protection in Interior Impact, and FMVSS No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. The basis for the application is that the petitioner avers that rmajette on DSK2TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:33 Jun 25, 2012 Jkt 226001 compliance would cause it substantial economic hardship and that it has tried in good faith to comply with the standards.1 This notice of receipt of an application for a temporary exemption is published in accordance with statutory and administrative provisions. NHTSA has made no judgment on the merits of the application. DATES: You should submit your comments not later than July 26, 2012. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William H. Shakely, Office of the Chief Counsel, NCC–112, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building 4th Floor, Room W41–318, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366–2992; Fax: (202) 366–3820. ADDRESSES: We invite you to submit comments on the application described above. You may submit comments identified by docket number at the heading of this notice by any of the following methods: • Web Site: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the electronic docket site by clicking on ‘‘Help and Information’’ or ‘‘Help/ Info.’’ • Fax: 1–202–493–2251. • Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. • Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below. We will consider all comments received before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated above. To the extent possible, we will also consider comments filed after the closing date. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http:// www.regulations.gov at any time or to 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1 To view the petition, go to http:// www.regulations.gov and enter the docket number set forth in the heading of this document. PO 00000 Frm 00097 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 38129 Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Telephone: (202) 366–9826. Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT’s complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477–78) or you may visit http://www.dot.gov/ privacy.html. Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the address given above. When you send a comment containing information claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Statutory Basis for Temporary Exemptions The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act), codified as 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to exempt, on a temporary basis and under specified circumstances, motor vehicles from a motor vehicle safety standard or bumper standard. This authority is set forth at 49 U.S.C. 30113. The Secretary has delegated the authority in this section to NHTSA. NHTSA established 49 CFR part 555, Temporary Exemption from Motor Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards, to implement the statutory provisions concerning temporary exemptions. A vehicle manufacturer wishing to obtain an exemption from a standard must demonstrate in its application (A) that an exemption would be in the public interest and consistent with the Safety Act and (B) that the manufacturer satisfies one of the following four bases for an exemption: (i) Compliance with the standard would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried to comply with the E:\FR\FM\26JNN1.SGM 26JNN1 38130 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 26, 2012 / Notices rmajette on DSK2TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES standard in good faith; (ii) the exemption would make easier the development or field evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a safety level at least equal to the safety level of the standard; (iii) the exemption would make the development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would not unreasonably lower the safety level of that vehicle; or (iv) compliance with the standard would prevent the manufacturer from selling a motor vehicle with an overall safety level at least equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles. A manufacturer is eligible to apply for a hardship exemption if its total motor vehicle production in its most recent year of production did not exceed 10,000 vehicles, as determined by the NHTSA Administrator (49 U.S.C. 30113). In determining whether a manufacturer of a vehicle meets that criterion, NHTSA considers whether a second vehicle manufacturer also might be deemed the manufacturer of that vehicle. The statutory provisions governing motor vehicle safety (49 U.S.C. Chapter 301) do not state that a manufacturer has substantial responsibility as manufacturer of a vehicle simply because it owns or controls a second manufacturer that assembled that vehicle. However, the agency considers the statutory definition of ‘‘manufacturer’’ (49 U.S.C. 30102) to be sufficiently broad to include sponsors, depending on the circumstances. Thus, NHTSA has stated that a manufacturer may be deemed to be a sponsor and thus a manufacturer of a vehicle assembled by a second manufacturer if the first manufacturer had a substantial role in the development and manufacturing process of that vehicle. II. Air Bag Requirements and Small Volume Manufacturers All trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 pounds or less and an unloaded vehicle weight of 5,500 pounds or less manufactured on or after September 1, 1998, are required to have air bags at the driver and right front passenger positions, and the vehicle must meet certain injury criteria as measured by test dummies during specified test procedures.2 The requirements for standard air bags are longstanding, and a number of small volume manufacturers have found ways to meet them. Although NHTSA granted a small number of exemptions from the standard air bag requirements 2 49 CFR 571.208, S4.2.6.2. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:33 Jun 25, 2012 Jkt 226001 in the past, the agency announced in 2007 that given the large benefits of frontal air bags, the number of years that the requirements had been in effect and the fact that a number of small volume manufacturers had been able to meet the requirements, the agency had determined that it was generally not in the public interest or consistent with the Safety Act to grant new exemptions from these requirements.3 In 2000, NHTSA upgraded the requirements for air bags in passenger cars and light trucks, requiring what are commonly known as ‘‘advanced air bags.’’ 4 The upgrade was designed to meet the twin goals of improving protection for occupants of all sizes, belted and unbelted, in moderate-tohigh-speed crashes, and of minimizing the risks posed by air bags to infants, children, and other occupants, especially in low-speed crashes. The issuance of the advanced air bag requirements was a culmination of a comprehensive plan that the agency announced in 1996 to address the adverse effects of air bags. This plan also included an extensive consumer education program to encourage the placement of children in rear seats. The new requirements were phasedin, beginning with the 2004 model year. Small volume manufacturers were not subject to the advanced air bag requirements until the end of the phasein period, i.e., September 1, 2006. In recent years, NHTSA has addressed a number of petitions for exemption from the advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. The majority of these requests have come from small volume manufacturers, each of which has petitioned on the basis that compliance would cause it substantial economic hardship and that it has tried in good faith to comply with the standard. In recognition of the more limited resources and capabilities of small volume manufacturers, authority to grant exemptions based on substantial economic hardship and good faith efforts was added to the Vehicle Safety Act in 1972 to enable the agency to give those manufacturers additional time to comply with the Federal safety standards. NHTSA has granted a number of these petitions, usually in situations in which the manufacturer is supplying standard air bags in lieu of advanced air bags.5 In addressing these petitions, NHTSA has recognized that small volume 3 See denial of petition of SS II of America, 72 FR 30426 (May 31, 2007). 4 See 65 FR 30680 (May 12, 2000). 5 See, e.g., grant of petition to Panoz, 72 FR 28759 (May 22, 2007), or grant of petition to Koenigsegg, 72 FR 17608 (April 9, 2007). PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 manufacturers may face particular difficulties in acquiring or developing advanced air bag systems. Notwithstanding those previous grants of exemption, NHTSA has considered two key issues— (1) Whether it is in the public interest to continue to grant such petitions, particularly in the same manner as in the past, given the number of years these requirements have now been in effect and the benefits of advanced air bags, and (2) To the extent such petitions are granted, what plans and countermeasures to protect child and infant occupants, short of compliance with the advanced air bags, should be expected. While the exemption authority was created to address the problems of small manufacturers and the agency wishes to be appropriately attentive to those problems, it was not anticipated by the agency that use of this authority would result in small manufacturers being given much more than relatively short term exemptions from recently implemented safety standards, especially those addressing particularly significant safety problems. Given the passage of time since the advanced air bag requirements were established and implemented, and in light of the benefits of advanced air bags, NHTSA has determined that it is not in the public interest to continue to grant exemptions from these requirements under the same terms as in the past.6 The costs of compliance with the advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208 are costs that all entrants to the U.S. automobile marketplace should expect to bear. Furthermore, NHTSA understands that, in contrast to the initial years after the advanced air bag requirements went into effect, low volume manufacturers now have access to advanced air bag technology. Accordingly, NHTSA has concluded that the expense of advanced air bag technology is not now sufficient, in and of itself, to justify the grant of a petition for a hardship exemption from the advanced air bag requirements.7 NHTSA further notes that the granting of hardship exemptions from motor vehicle safety standards is subject to the agency’s finding that the petitioning manufacturer has ‘‘tried to comply with the standard in good faith.’’ 8 In response to prior petitions, NHTSA has granted temporary exemptions from the advanced air bag requirements as a 6 See denial of petition of Pagani Automobili SpA, 76 FR 47641–42 (Aug. 5, 2011). 7 See id. 8 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B)(i). E:\FR\FM\26JNN1.SGM 26JNN1 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 26, 2012 / Notices rmajette on DSK2TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES means of affording eligible manufacturers an additional transition period to comply with the exempted standard. In deciding whether to grant an exemption based on substantial economic hardship and good faith efforts, NHTSA considers the steps that the manufacturer has already taken to achieve compliance, as well as the future steps the manufacturer plans to take during the exemption period and the estimated date by which full compliance will be achieved.9 NHTSA invites comment on how these considerations relate to VMCI’s petition for an exemption from the standard and advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. III. Electronic Stability Control Systems Requirement In April 2007, NHTSA published a final rule requiring that vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds) or less be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) systems. ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control in critical driving situations in which the vehicle is beginning to lose directional stability at the rear wheels (spin out) or directional control at the front wheels (plow out). An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is a prerequisite for an ESC system because ESC uses many of the same components as ABS. Thus, the cost of complying with FMVSS No. 126 is less for vehicle models already equipped with ABS. Preventing single-vehicle loss-ofcontrol crashes is the most effective way to reduce deaths resulting from rollover crashes. This is because most loss-ofcontrol crashes culminate in the vehicle leaving the roadway, which dramatically increases the probability of a rollover. NHTSA’s crash data study of existing vehicles equipped with ESC demonstrated that these systems reduce fatal single-vehicle crashes of passenger cars by 55 percent and fatal singlevehicle crashes of light trucks and vans (LTVs) by 50 percent.10 NHTSA estimates that ESC has the potential to prevent 56 percent of the fatal passenger car rollovers and 74 percent of the fatal LTV first-event rollovers that would otherwise occur in single-vehicle crashes.11 The ESC requirement became effective for substantially all vehicles on September 1, 2011. 9 49 CFR 555.6(a)(2). R., Crash Prevention Effectiveness of Light-Vehicle Electronic Stability Control: An Update of the 2007 NHTSA Evaluation; DOT HS 811 486 (June 2011). 11 Id. 10 Sivinski, VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:33 Jun 25, 2012 Jkt 226001 IV. Occupant Protection in Interior Impact Requirement FMVSS No. 201, Occupant Protection in Interior Impact applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds) or less. The standard establishes performance requirements designed to reduce the risk of injury in the event an occupant strikes the interior of a vehicle during a crash. Specifically, certain areas within the vehicle must be properly padded or otherwise have energy absorbing properties to minimize head injury in the event of a crash. Head impact protection performance is determined, in part, by testing specific targets on the vehicle interior. FMVSS No. 201 further specifies that doors to interior compartments must remain latched when subjected to certain forces that might be experienced in a crash. V. Overview of Petition In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 30113 and the procedures in 49 CFR part 555, VMCI submitted a petition asking the agency for a temporary exemption from the electronic stability control requirements of FMVSS No. 126, certain requirements of FMVSS No. 201, and the standard and advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208.12 Specifically, VMCI requested exemption from all of FMVSS No. 126; the requirements in S5.1 (requirements for instrument panels), S5.2 (requirements for seat backs), S5.3 (requirements for interior compartment doors), S6 (requirements for upper interior components), S8 (test conditions and specification of target locations), S9 (orthogonal reference system), and S10 (specification of target locations) of FMVSS No. 201; and the requirements in paragraphs S4.2.6.2 (standard air bag requirements for light trucks), S14 (advanced air bag requirements), S15 (rigid barrier test requirements using 5th percentile adult female dummies), S17 (offset frontal deformable barrier requirements using 5th percentile adult female dummies), S19 (except for S19.2.2) (requirements to provide protection for infants in rear facing and convertible child restraints and car beds), S20 (test procedure for infant requirements), S21 (requirements using 3-year-old child dummies), S22 (test procedure for 3-year-old requirements), S23 (requirements using 6-year-old child dummies), S24 (test procedure for 12 In response to a request for clarification from the agency, VMCI clarified in an email certain background information and from which requirements of FMVSS No. 208 the company was seeking exemption. A copy of this email will be posted to the docket. PO 00000 Frm 00099 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 38131 6-year-old requirements), S25 (requirements using an out-of-position 5th percentile adult female dummy at the driver position), and S26 (procedure for low risk deployment tests of driver air bag) of FMVSS No. 208. The petition for exemption is for the Everest model, a two-seat, all-electric light delivery truck. The basis for the application is that compliance would cause the petitioner substantial economic hardship and that the petitioner has tried in good faith to comply with the standard. VMCI has requested an exemption for the Everest model for 36 months. VMCI asserts that over $3 million has been spent so far to comply with the FMVSSs. However, the company states that the additional capital required to accomplish FMVSS certification at this time presents a hardship to the company and that an exemption would provide feedback and revenue in order to bring the Everest into compliance. VMCI states that the company intends to comply with the requirements of FMVSS Nos. 126, 201, and 208 by the end of the exemption period. VMCI is a Tennessee corporation with its headquarters in North Carolina. The company manufactured 6 vehicles in the 12 month period prior to filing the petition. The company states that it plans to produce approximately 2,500 vehicles annually during the exemption period. Regarding FMVSS No. 126, VMCI asserts that the equipment design, fitting, testing and certification of the Everest for compliance with the ESC requirements would cost approximately $1.4 million, and that these costs pose an economic hardship to the company. VMCI requests an exemption from the ESC requirements for 36 months. VMCI states that the lightweight nature of the vehicle (GVWR of 1,400 kg) and the fact that it will be equipped with front disc brakes and rear drum or disc braking will keep the vehicle stable in all braking conditions. VMCI further states that the placement of the vehicle’s battery packs below the center of gravity will result in a much lower chance of vehicle rollover in most driving conditions. VMCI asserts that, accordingly, the risk presented to the public by the exemption is low. Regarding the specified requirements of FMVSS No. 201, VMCI states that the Everest will be equipped with energyabsorbing materials in the interior passenger compartment target zones of potential impact. However, VMCI requests an exemption from certain requirements because, according to VMCI, the costs of testing to certify E:\FR\FM\26JNN1.SGM 26JNN1 38132 Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 123 / Tuesday, June 26, 2012 / Notices compliance would present an economic hardship to the company.13 VMCI requests exemption from the standard and advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208 because, according to VMCI, the costs of testing to certify compliance would present an economic hardship to the company.14 VMCI states that the Everest will be equipped with air bags on the driver and passenger sides, retracting seat belts, and reinforced doors. However, the company asserts that the cost of certifying the vehicle to the FMVSS requirements is prohibitive prior to production. VMCI further states that the Everest will be equipped with an interlock that will prevent the vehicle from moving if occupants are not properly belted. The company asserts that this mitigates the risks of an exemption from the unbelted occupant requirements. Additionally, VMCI states that it is unlikely that an infant or child would be riding in the Everest because it is being targeted to the commercial light delivery market. However, the Everest will be equipped with a key switch to deactivate the passenger side air bag and a compliant air bag status telltale. VMCI asserts that granting the exemption would serve the public good by making an all electric, affordable, practical work truck available, by creating jobs, and by reducing pollution and dependence on foreign sources of oil. rmajette on DSK2TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES VI. Completeness and Comment Period Upon receiving a petition, NHTSA conducts an initial review of the petition with respect to whether the petition is complete. The agency has tentatively concluded that the petition from VMCI is complete. The agency has not made any judgment on the merits of the petition, and is placing a nonconfidential copy of the petition in the docket. The agency seeks comment from the public on the merits of VMCI’s petition for a temporary exemption from FMVSS No. 126, certain requirements of FMVSS No. 201, and the standard and advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. We are providing a 30-day comment period. After considering public comments and other available information, we will publish a notice of 13 VMCI has requested confidential treatment under 49 CFR part 512 for certain business and financial information submitted as part of its petition for temporary exemption. Accordingly, the information placed in the docket does not contain the information that is the subject of this request. The precise costs of testing and certification are provided in the confidential version of the petition. 14 The precise costs of testing and certification are provided in the confidential version of the petition. VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:33 Jun 25, 2012 Jkt 226001 final action on the petition in the Federal Register. Issued on: June 15, 2012. Lori Summers, Director, Office of Crashworthiness Standards. [FR Doc. 2012–15585 Filed 6–25–12; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–59–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration [Docket No. PHMSA–2009–0203] Pipeline Safety: Meeting of the Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee and the Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards Committee Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of advisory committee meetings. AGENCY: This notice announces a public meeting of the Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (TPSSC) and the Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (THLPSSC). The committees will meet to discuss a proposed rulemaking to make miscellaneous changes to the pipeline safety regulations and to discuss several future regulatory initiatives. DATES: The TPSSC and the THLPSSC will meet in joint session on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The TPSSC and THLPSSC will meet separately but simultaneously on Thursday, July 12 from 9 a.m. to 12 Noon followed by a second joint session from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT. The meeting will not be web cast; however, presentations will be available on the meeting Web site and posted in the EGov Web Site: http:// www.regulations.gov under docket number PHMSA–2009–0203 within 30 days following the meeting. ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th Street NW., Washington, DC 20005. The telephone number is 1–800–228–9290: the local telephone number is (202) 737–2200. Additional information about the hotel is available at: http:// www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ WASMC-Washington-Marriott-at-MetroCenter. Any new information or changes will be posted on the PHMSA Web page, (http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/public), under ‘‘Latest News’’ on the homepage. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00100 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Comments on the meeting may be submitted to the docket in the following ways: E-Gov Web Site: http:// www.regulations.gov. This site allows the public to enter comments on any Federal Register notice issued by any agency. Fax: 1–202–493–2251. Mail: Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590–001. Hand Delivery: Room W12–140 on the ground level of the DOT West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Instructions: Identify the docket number PHMSA–2009–0203 at the beginning of your comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http:// www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. You should know that anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). Therefore, you may want to review DOT’s complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477) or view the Privacy Notice at http:// www.regulations.gov before submitting any such comments. Docket: For access to the docket or to read background documents or comments, go to http:// www.regulations.gov at any time or to Room W12–140 on the ground level of the DOT West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you wish to receive confirmation of receipt of your written comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped postcard with the following statement: ‘‘Comments on PHMSA– 2009–0203.’’ The Docket Clerk will date-stamp the postcard prior to returning it to you via the U.S. mail. Please note that due to delays in the delivery of U.S. mail to Federal offices in Washington, DC, we recommend that persons consider an alternative method (Internet, fax, or professional delivery service) of submitting comments to the docket and ensuring their timely receipt at DOT. E:\FR\FM\26JNN1.SGM 26JNN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 123 (Tuesday, June 26, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38129-38132]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-15585]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0085]


Vision Motor Cars, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary 
Exemption From Certain Requirements of FMVSS No. 126, FMVSS No. 201, 
and FMVSS No. 208

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of receipt of petition for temporary exemption.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In accordance with the procedures in 49 CFR part 555, Vision 
Motor Cars, Inc., (VMCI) has petitioned the agency for temporary 
exemption from certain requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
Standard (FMVSS) No. 126, Electronic Stability Control Systems, FMVSS 
No. 201, Occupant Protection in Interior Impact, and FMVSS No. 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection. The basis for the application is that the 
petitioner avers that compliance would cause it substantial economic 
hardship and that it has tried in good faith to comply with the 
standards.\1\ This notice of receipt of an application for a temporary 
exemption is published in accordance with statutory and administrative 
provisions. NHTSA has made no judgment on the merits of the 
application.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ To view the petition, go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
enter the docket number set forth in the heading of this document.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
DATES: You should submit your comments not later than July 26, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William H. Shakely, Office of the 
Chief Counsel, NCC-112, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building 4th Floor, Room W41-318, 
Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2992; Fax: (202) 366-3820.

ADDRESSES: We invite you to submit comments on the application 
described above. You may submit comments identified by docket number at 
the heading of this notice by any of the following methods:
     Web Site: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments on the electronic docket site by 
clicking on ``Help and Information'' or ``Help/Info.''
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket 
Operations, M-30, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and 
docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without 
change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below. We 
will consider all comments received before the close of business on the 
comment closing date indicated above. To the extent possible, we will 
also consider comments filed after the closing date.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or to 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 
Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal Holidays. Telephone: (202) 366-9826.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit 
http://www.dot.gov/privacy.html.
    Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any 
information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three 
copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim 
to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, 
at the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In 
addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the 
claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the 
address given above. When you send a comment containing information 
claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a 
cover letter setting forth the information specified in our 
confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Statutory Basis for Temporary Exemptions

    The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act), 
codified as 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, authorizes the Secretary of 
Transportation to exempt, on a temporary basis and under specified 
circumstances, motor vehicles from a motor vehicle safety standard or 
bumper standard. This authority is set forth at 49 U.S.C. 30113. The 
Secretary has delegated the authority in this section to NHTSA.
    NHTSA established 49 CFR part 555, Temporary Exemption from Motor 
Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards, to implement the statutory 
provisions concerning temporary exemptions. A vehicle manufacturer 
wishing to obtain an exemption from a standard must demonstrate in its 
application (A) that an exemption would be in the public interest and 
consistent with the Safety Act and (B) that the manufacturer satisfies 
one of the following four bases for an exemption: (i) Compliance with 
the standard would cause substantial economic hardship to a 
manufacturer that has tried to comply with the

[[Page 38130]]

standard in good faith; (ii) the exemption would make easier the 
development or field evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature 
providing a safety level at least equal to the safety level of the 
standard; (iii) the exemption would make the development or field 
evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would not 
unreasonably lower the safety level of that vehicle; or (iv) compliance 
with the standard would prevent the manufacturer from selling a motor 
vehicle with an overall safety level at least equal to the overall 
safety level of nonexempt vehicles.
    A manufacturer is eligible to apply for a hardship exemption if its 
total motor vehicle production in its most recent year of production 
did not exceed 10,000 vehicles, as determined by the NHTSA 
Administrator (49 U.S.C. 30113).
    In determining whether a manufacturer of a vehicle meets that 
criterion, NHTSA considers whether a second vehicle manufacturer also 
might be deemed the manufacturer of that vehicle. The statutory 
provisions governing motor vehicle safety (49 U.S.C. Chapter 301) do 
not state that a manufacturer has substantial responsibility as 
manufacturer of a vehicle simply because it owns or controls a second 
manufacturer that assembled that vehicle. However, the agency considers 
the statutory definition of ``manufacturer'' (49 U.S.C. 30102) to be 
sufficiently broad to include sponsors, depending on the circumstances. 
Thus, NHTSA has stated that a manufacturer may be deemed to be a 
sponsor and thus a manufacturer of a vehicle assembled by a second 
manufacturer if the first manufacturer had a substantial role in the 
development and manufacturing process of that vehicle.

II. Air Bag Requirements and Small Volume Manufacturers

    All trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 
pounds or less and an unloaded vehicle weight of 5,500 pounds or less 
manufactured on or after September 1, 1998, are required to have air 
bags at the driver and right front passenger positions, and the vehicle 
must meet certain injury criteria as measured by test dummies during 
specified test procedures.\2\
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    \2\ 49 CFR 571.208, S4.2.6.2.
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    The requirements for standard air bags are longstanding, and a 
number of small volume manufacturers have found ways to meet them. 
Although NHTSA granted a small number of exemptions from the standard 
air bag requirements in the past, the agency announced in 2007 that 
given the large benefits of frontal air bags, the number of years that 
the requirements had been in effect and the fact that a number of small 
volume manufacturers had been able to meet the requirements, the agency 
had determined that it was generally not in the public interest or 
consistent with the Safety Act to grant new exemptions from these 
requirements.\3\
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    \3\ See denial of petition of SS II of America, 72 FR 30426 (May 
31, 2007).
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    In 2000, NHTSA upgraded the requirements for air bags in passenger 
cars and light trucks, requiring what are commonly known as ``advanced 
air bags.'' \4\ The upgrade was designed to meet the twin goals of 
improving protection for occupants of all sizes, belted and unbelted, 
in moderate-to-high-speed crashes, and of minimizing the risks posed by 
air bags to infants, children, and other occupants, especially in low-
speed crashes.
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    \4\  See 65 FR 30680 (May 12, 2000).
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    The issuance of the advanced air bag requirements was a culmination 
of a comprehensive plan that the agency announced in 1996 to address 
the adverse effects of air bags. This plan also included an extensive 
consumer education program to encourage the placement of children in 
rear seats.
    The new requirements were phased-in, beginning with the 2004 model 
year. Small volume manufacturers were not subject to the advanced air 
bag requirements until the end of the phase-in period, i.e., September 
1, 2006.
    In recent years, NHTSA has addressed a number of petitions for 
exemption from the advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. The 
majority of these requests have come from small volume manufacturers, 
each of which has petitioned on the basis that compliance would cause 
it substantial economic hardship and that it has tried in good faith to 
comply with the standard. In recognition of the more limited resources 
and capabilities of small volume manufacturers, authority to grant 
exemptions based on substantial economic hardship and good faith 
efforts was added to the Vehicle Safety Act in 1972 to enable the 
agency to give those manufacturers additional time to comply with the 
Federal safety standards.
    NHTSA has granted a number of these petitions, usually in 
situations in which the manufacturer is supplying standard air bags in 
lieu of advanced air bags.\5\ In addressing these petitions, NHTSA has 
recognized that small volume manufacturers may face particular 
difficulties in acquiring or developing advanced air bag systems.
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    \5\ See, e.g., grant of petition to Panoz, 72 FR 28759 (May 22, 
2007), or grant of petition to Koenigsegg, 72 FR 17608 (April 9, 
2007).
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    Notwithstanding those previous grants of exemption, NHTSA has 
considered two key issues--
    (1) Whether it is in the public interest to continue to grant such 
petitions, particularly in the same manner as in the past, given the 
number of years these requirements have now been in effect and the 
benefits of advanced air bags, and
    (2) To the extent such petitions are granted, what plans and 
countermeasures to protect child and infant occupants, short of 
compliance with the advanced air bags, should be expected.

While the exemption authority was created to address the problems of 
small manufacturers and the agency wishes to be appropriately attentive 
to those problems, it was not anticipated by the agency that use of 
this authority would result in small manufacturers being given much 
more than relatively short term exemptions from recently implemented 
safety standards, especially those addressing particularly significant 
safety problems.
    Given the passage of time since the advanced air bag requirements 
were established and implemented, and in light of the benefits of 
advanced air bags, NHTSA has determined that it is not in the public 
interest to continue to grant exemptions from these requirements under 
the same terms as in the past.\6\ The costs of compliance with the 
advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208 are costs that all 
entrants to the U.S. automobile marketplace should expect to bear. 
Furthermore, NHTSA understands that, in contrast to the initial years 
after the advanced air bag requirements went into effect, low volume 
manufacturers now have access to advanced air bag technology. 
Accordingly, NHTSA has concluded that the expense of advanced air bag 
technology is not now sufficient, in and of itself, to justify the 
grant of a petition for a hardship exemption from the advanced air bag 
requirements.\7\
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    \6\ See denial of petition of Pagani Automobili SpA, 76 FR 
47641-42 (Aug. 5, 2011).
    \7\ See id.
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    NHTSA further notes that the granting of hardship exemptions from 
motor vehicle safety standards is subject to the agency's finding that 
the petitioning manufacturer has ``tried to comply with the standard in 
good faith.'' \8\ In response to prior petitions, NHTSA has granted 
temporary exemptions from the advanced air bag requirements as a

[[Page 38131]]

means of affording eligible manufacturers an additional transition 
period to comply with the exempted standard. In deciding whether to 
grant an exemption based on substantial economic hardship and good 
faith efforts, NHTSA considers the steps that the manufacturer has 
already taken to achieve compliance, as well as the future steps the 
manufacturer plans to take during the exemption period and the 
estimated date by which full compliance will be achieved.\9\
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    \8\ 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B)(i).
    \9\ 49 CFR 555.6(a)(2).
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    NHTSA invites comment on how these considerations relate to VMCI's 
petition for an exemption from the standard and advanced air bag 
requirements of FMVSS No. 208.

III. Electronic Stability Control Systems Requirement

    In April 2007, NHTSA published a final rule requiring that vehicles 
with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds) or less 
be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) systems. ESC 
systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels 
to assist the driver in maintaining control in critical driving 
situations in which the vehicle is beginning to lose directional 
stability at the rear wheels (spin out) or directional control at the 
front wheels (plow out). An anti-lock brake system (ABS) is a 
prerequisite for an ESC system because ESC uses many of the same 
components as ABS. Thus, the cost of complying with FMVSS No. 126 is 
less for vehicle models already equipped with ABS.
    Preventing single-vehicle loss-of-control crashes is the most 
effective way to reduce deaths resulting from rollover crashes. This is 
because most loss-of-control crashes culminate in the vehicle leaving 
the roadway, which dramatically increases the probability of a 
rollover. NHTSA's crash data study of existing vehicles equipped with 
ESC demonstrated that these systems reduce fatal single-vehicle crashes 
of passenger cars by 55 percent and fatal single-vehicle crashes of 
light trucks and vans (LTVs) by 50 percent.\10\ NHTSA estimates that 
ESC has the potential to prevent 56 percent of the fatal passenger car 
rollovers and 74 percent of the fatal LTV first-event rollovers that 
would otherwise occur in single-vehicle crashes.\11\
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    \10\ Sivinski, R., Crash Prevention Effectiveness of Light-
Vehicle Electronic Stability Control: An Update of the 2007 NHTSA 
Evaluation; DOT HS 811 486 (June 2011).
    \11\ Id.
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    The ESC requirement became effective for substantially all vehicles 
on September 1, 2011.

IV. Occupant Protection in Interior Impact Requirement

    FMVSS No. 201, Occupant Protection in Interior Impact applies to 
vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds) 
or less. The standard establishes performance requirements designed to 
reduce the risk of injury in the event an occupant strikes the interior 
of a vehicle during a crash. Specifically, certain areas within the 
vehicle must be properly padded or otherwise have energy absorbing 
properties to minimize head injury in the event of a crash. Head impact 
protection performance is determined, in part, by testing specific 
targets on the vehicle interior. FMVSS No. 201 further specifies that 
doors to interior compartments must remain latched when subjected to 
certain forces that might be experienced in a crash.

V. Overview of Petition

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 30113 and the procedures in 49 CFR 
part 555, VMCI submitted a petition asking the agency for a temporary 
exemption from the electronic stability control requirements of FMVSS 
No. 126, certain requirements of FMVSS No. 201, and the standard and 
advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208.\12\ Specifically, VMCI 
requested exemption from all of FMVSS No. 126; the requirements in S5.1 
(requirements for instrument panels), S5.2 (requirements for seat 
backs), S5.3 (requirements for interior compartment doors), S6 
(requirements for upper interior components), S8 (test conditions and 
specification of target locations), S9 (orthogonal reference system), 
and S10 (specification of target locations) of FMVSS No. 201; and the 
requirements in paragraphs S4.2.6.2 (standard air bag requirements for 
light trucks), S14 (advanced air bag requirements), S15 (rigid barrier 
test requirements using 5th percentile adult female dummies), S17 
(offset frontal deformable barrier requirements using 5th percentile 
adult female dummies), S19 (except for S19.2.2) (requirements to 
provide protection for infants in rear facing and convertible child 
restraints and car beds), S20 (test procedure for infant requirements), 
S21 (requirements using 3-year-old child dummies), S22 (test procedure 
for 3-year-old requirements), S23 (requirements using 6-year-old child 
dummies), S24 (test procedure for 6-year-old requirements), S25 
(requirements using an out-of-position 5th percentile adult female 
dummy at the driver position), and S26 (procedure for low risk 
deployment tests of driver air bag) of FMVSS No. 208. The petition for 
exemption is for the Everest model, a two-seat, all-electric light 
delivery truck.
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    \12\ In response to a request for clarification from the agency, 
VMCI clarified in an email certain background information and from 
which requirements of FMVSS No. 208 the company was seeking 
exemption. A copy of this email will be posted to the docket.
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    The basis for the application is that compliance would cause the 
petitioner substantial economic hardship and that the petitioner has 
tried in good faith to comply with the standard. VMCI has requested an 
exemption for the Everest model for 36 months. VMCI asserts that over 
$3 million has been spent so far to comply with the FMVSSs. However, 
the company states that the additional capital required to accomplish 
FMVSS certification at this time presents a hardship to the company and 
that an exemption would provide feedback and revenue in order to bring 
the Everest into compliance. VMCI states that the company intends to 
comply with the requirements of FMVSS Nos. 126, 201, and 208 by the end 
of the exemption period. VMCI is a Tennessee corporation with its 
headquarters in North Carolina. The company manufactured 6 vehicles in 
the 12 month period prior to filing the petition. The company states 
that it plans to produce approximately 2,500 vehicles annually during 
the exemption period.
    Regarding FMVSS No. 126, VMCI asserts that the equipment design, 
fitting, testing and certification of the Everest for compliance with 
the ESC requirements would cost approximately $1.4 million, and that 
these costs pose an economic hardship to the company. VMCI requests an 
exemption from the ESC requirements for 36 months. VMCI states that the 
lightweight nature of the vehicle (GVWR of 1,400 kg) and the fact that 
it will be equipped with front disc brakes and rear drum or disc 
braking will keep the vehicle stable in all braking conditions. VMCI 
further states that the placement of the vehicle's battery packs below 
the center of gravity will result in a much lower chance of vehicle 
rollover in most driving conditions. VMCI asserts that, accordingly, 
the risk presented to the public by the exemption is low.
    Regarding the specified requirements of FMVSS No. 201, VMCI states 
that the Everest will be equipped with energy-absorbing materials in 
the interior passenger compartment target zones of potential impact. 
However, VMCI requests an exemption from certain requirements because, 
according to VMCI, the costs of testing to certify

[[Page 38132]]

compliance would present an economic hardship to the company.\13\
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    \13\ VMCI has requested confidential treatment under 49 CFR part 
512 for certain business and financial information submitted as part 
of its petition for temporary exemption. Accordingly, the 
information placed in the docket does not contain the information 
that is the subject of this request. The precise costs of testing 
and certification are provided in the confidential version of the 
petition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    VMCI requests exemption from the standard and advanced air bag 
requirements of FMVSS No. 208 because, according to VMCI, the costs of 
testing to certify compliance would present an economic hardship to the 
company.\14\ VMCI states that the Everest will be equipped with air 
bags on the driver and passenger sides, retracting seat belts, and 
reinforced doors. However, the company asserts that the cost of 
certifying the vehicle to the FMVSS requirements is prohibitive prior 
to production.
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    \14\ The precise costs of testing and certification are provided 
in the confidential version of the petition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    VMCI further states that the Everest will be equipped with an 
interlock that will prevent the vehicle from moving if occupants are 
not properly belted. The company asserts that this mitigates the risks 
of an exemption from the unbelted occupant requirements. Additionally, 
VMCI states that it is unlikely that an infant or child would be riding 
in the Everest because it is being targeted to the commercial light 
delivery market. However, the Everest will be equipped with a key 
switch to deactivate the passenger side air bag and a compliant air bag 
status telltale.
    VMCI asserts that granting the exemption would serve the public 
good by making an all electric, affordable, practical work truck 
available, by creating jobs, and by reducing pollution and dependence 
on foreign sources of oil.

VI. Completeness and Comment Period

    Upon receiving a petition, NHTSA conducts an initial review of the 
petition with respect to whether the petition is complete. The agency 
has tentatively concluded that the petition from VMCI is complete. The 
agency has not made any judgment on the merits of the petition, and is 
placing a non-confidential copy of the petition in the docket.
    The agency seeks comment from the public on the merits of VMCI's 
petition for a temporary exemption from FMVSS No. 126, certain 
requirements of FMVSS No. 201, and the standard and advanced air bag 
requirements of FMVSS No. 208. We are providing a 30-day comment 
period. After considering public comments and other available 
information, we will publish a notice of final action on the petition 
in the Federal Register.

    Issued on: June 15, 2012.
Lori Summers,
Director, Office of Crashworthiness Standards.
[FR Doc. 2012-15585 Filed 6-25-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P