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Toyota Motor North America, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption From an Electrical Safety Requirement of FMVSS No. 305

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Toyota

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption From an Electrical Safety Requirement of FMVSS No. 305

Claude H. Harris
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
June 11, 2014


[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 112 (Wednesday, June 11, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33639-33641]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-13540]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0068]


Toyota Motor North America, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for 
Temporary Exemption From an Electrical Safety Requirement of FMVSS No. 
305

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of a petition for a temporary exemption from 
a provision of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 305, 
Electric-powered vehicles: electrolyte spillage and electrical shock 
protection.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the procedures in 49 CFR part 555, Toyota 
Motor North America, Inc. (Toyota) has petitioned the agency for a 
temporary exemption from one requirement of FMVSS No. 305. That portion 
of FMVSS No. 305 requires manufacturers to maintain a certain level of 
electrical isolation (or reduce the voltage below specified levels) of 
high voltage electrical components of an electric vehicle (EV) in the 
event of a crash in order to protect the vehicle's occupants and first 
responders. Toyota states that a forthcoming fuel cell vehicle (FCV) 
model cannot meet this requirement due to certain design 
characteristics of their FCVs. Instead, Toyota states that it is using 
alternative strategies to help ensure that occupants and first 
responders are protected in the event of a crash. NHTSA has made no 
judgment on the merits of the application. This notice of receipt of an 
application for a temporary exemption is published in accordance with 
statutory and administrative provisions.

DATES: You should submit your comments not later than July 11, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jesse Chang, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, NCC-112, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., 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 in 
the heading of this notice by any of the following methods:
     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 (65 FR 19476) 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. The Electrical Safety Requirement in FMVSS No. 305 and its Purpose

    In 2000, the agency created Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 
(FMVSS) No. 305 to help facilitate the safe introduction of EVs into 
the marketplace.\1\ While FMVSS No. 305 addresses a number of safety 
concerns relevant to EVs (e.g., battery retention and electrolyte 
spillage), paragraph S5.3 of the standard, at issue here, requires EVs 
to maintain electrical isolation of various major electrical components 
(e.g., components related to the vehicle's propulsion) after specified 
crash tests. The purpose of the requirements in S5.3 is to reduce the 
risk of high voltage electrical shock to the vehicle's occupants and 
the first responders in the event of a crash.\2\
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    \1\ See 65 FR 57980 (September 27, 2000).
    \2\ See id.
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    NHTSA published its most recent major update to the S5.3 
requirements in 2010.\3\ In this update, NHTSA expanded the types of 
electrical components that would be covered by the requirement and the 
options available for complying with the requirement. Namely, the 
agency expanded the coverage of the standard to include other high 
voltage

[[Page 33640]]

components of the EV beyond the propulsion battery. Further, the 
updated requirements recognize the different safety implications 
between Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC) by 
establishing different requirements for each type of electrical 
component. FMVSS No. 305 further specifies various crash test 
conditions under which a vehicle is required to meet the aforementioned 
requirements. Depending on the particular crash scenario (e.g., frontal 
barrier, rear moving barrier, and side moving deformable barrier), the 
tests can be conducted at any speed up to a maximum speed of 48, 80, or 
54 km/h, respectively.\4\
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    \3\ See 75 FR 33515 (June 14, 2010). NHTSA also answered 
petitions for reconsideration on this final rule on July 29, 2011 
dealing with clarifying the definitions and test procedures of the 
June 14, 2010 final rule. See 76 FR 45436.
    \4\ The speed condition for each test is specified in paragraphs 
S6.1 to S6.3.
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    The subject of Toyota's petition is these electrical safety 
requirements in paragraph S5.3 of FMVSS No. 305. Toyota states in its 
petition that certain design aspects of their Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCVs) 
preclude the vehicle from meeting the electrical safety requirements in 
paragraph S5.3 of FMVSS No. 305. However, Toyota states that it will 
implement various alternative strategies to ensure that the vehicle 
occupants and first responders are protected from an undue risk of high 
voltage electrical shock after a crash. Section III below describes 
Toyota's petition in more detail.

II. Statutory Authority for Temporary Exemptions

    The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act), 
codified at 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, provides the Secretary of 
Transportation authority 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 for implementing this 
section to NHTSA.
    The Act authorizes the Secretary to grant a temporary exemption to 
a vehicle manufacturer under certain conditions. The relevant 
conditions for this petition require the Secretary to find:
    (1) That ``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
    (2) that ``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.'' \5\
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    \5\ See 49 U.S.C. 30113.
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    NHTSA established 49 CFR part 555, Temporary Exemption from Motor 
Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards, to implement the statutory 
provisions concerning temporary exemptions. The requirements specified 
in 49 CFR 555.5 state that the petitioner must set forth the basis of 
the application by providing the required information under part 555.6, 
and the reasons why the exemption would be in the public interest and 
consistent with the objectives of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301.
    A petition under the basis that the exemption would make easier the 
development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle must 
include the information specified in 49 CFR 555.6(c). The main 
requirements of that section include: (1) Substantiation that the 
vehicle is a low-emission vehicle; (2) documentation establishing that 
a temporary exemption would not unreasonably degrade the safety of a 
vehicle; (3) substantiation that a temporary exemption would facilitate 
the development or field evaluation of the vehicle; and (4) a statement 
of whether the petitioner intends to conform to the standard at the end 
of the exemption period.
    A petition under the basis that 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 must include the information specified in 49 CFR 555.6(d). The 
main requirements of that section include: (1) A detailed description 
of how the motor vehicle differs from one that conforms with the 
standard; (2) a detailed description of any safety features that are 
offered as standard equipment that are not required by an FMVSS; (3) 
the results of any tests showing that the vehicle doesn't meet the 
standard but has an overall level of safety at least equal to nonexempt 
vehicles; and (4) a statement of whether the petitioner intends to 
conform to the standard at the end of the exemption period.

III. Overview of Petition

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 30113 and the procedures in 49 CFR 
part 555, Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (Toyota) submitted a 
petition asking the agency for a temporary exemption from the 
electrical safety requirements in paragraph S5.3 of FMVSS No. 305. They 
state that they plan to manufacture an FCV model and that certain 
aspects of their FCV design prevent it from meeting the requirements in 
S5.3 of FMVSS No. 305.
    As described above, the requirements of paragraph S5.3 state that 
(after certain specified crash tests) a vehicle must maintain an 
electrical isolation of 500 ohms/volt for AC high voltage sources (and 
DC high voltage sources without electrical isolation monitoring) or 100 
ohms/volt for DC high voltage sources with electrical isolation 
monitoring. Vehicles subject to FMVSS No. 305 must meet these 
requirements when tested under any speed up to a maximum speed of 48, 
54, or 80 km/h (depending on the particular crash test).
    Toyota states in its petition that its vehicle will be able to meet 
the requirements of paragraph S5.3 of FMVSS No. 305 under some, but not 
all, of the specified test speeds. The company states that under higher 
speeds (e.g., speeds similar to when an air bag would deploy), an 
automatic disconnect mechanism activates to ensure that the high 
voltage components will meet the requirements of paragraph S5.3. 
However, Toyota states that the automatic disconnect mechanism in its 
FCVs will not be triggered in impacts at relatively low speeds. Toyota 
believes it would not be appropriate to equip FCVs with sensors that 
would trigger the automatic disconnect mechanism following minor 
impacts (such as parking lot collisions or curb contacts), since it is 
not possible to drive the vehicle after the system is disconnected. 
Toyota states that its FCV would be unable to meet the requirements of 
paragraph S5.3 in such low speed crash conditions where the automatic 
disconnect mechanism is not triggered.\6\
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    \6\ Additional information is available in Toyota's petition. 
The petition is available in the docket referenced at the beginning 
of this document.
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    Toyota applies for this exemption under two alternative bases.\7\ 
First, Toyota states that this exemption would make the development or 
field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would not 
unreasonably lower the safety level of the vehicle. Second, Toyota 
believes that compliance with FMVSS No. 305 would prevent it from 
selling a motor vehicle with an overall safety level at least equal to 
the overall safety level of non-exempt vehicles. Toyota requests the 
exemption (under either basis) for 2 years and has stated that it would 
not produce more than 2,500 exempted FCVs within any 12-month period 
during the exemption.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ To view the application, go to http://www.regulations.gov 
and enter the docket number set forth in the heading of this 
document.
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    In support of its first basis (low-emission vehicle) Toyota states 
that its FCV qualifies as a low-emission vehicle because its FCV will 
not emit particulate matter. Further, Toyota states that the FCV's 
noncompliance

[[Page 33641]]

with paragraph S5.3 of FMVSS No. 305 would not unreasonably degrade the 
safety of the vehicle because the vehicle has additional safety 
features designed to protect vehicle occupants and first responders in 
the event of a crash. First, Toyota equipped the FCV high voltage 
sources with physical barriers that they believe would prevent any 
direct physical contact with live voltage sources after the crash. 
Second, Toyota ensured that all physical barriers would be grounded to 
the chassis with a grounding resistance of less than 0.1 ohms. The 
company states that this would protect against any indirect contact 
with high voltage sources. Finally, Toyota states that the high voltage 
sources would continue to maintain an electrical isolation of 100 ohms/
volt. Through the combination of these three attributes, Toyota 
believes that the noncompliance with paragraph S5.3 would not 
unreasonably degrade the safety of its FCV.
    In support of the second basis (overall safety is at least equal to 
a nonexempt vehicle), Toyota states that its FCV would not meet the 
current requirements of FMVSS No. 305 in low speed crashes where the 
automatic disconnect does not activate and Toyota would not be able to 
sell the vehicle in the United States. However, due to the additional 
safety features that the company plans to incorporate into its FCVs 
(i.e., physical barrier + grounding of the physical barriers to the 
chassis + maintaining electrical isolation of 100 ohms/volt), Toyota 
believes that their FCV maintains a level of safety that is at least 
equivalent to a vehicle complying with FMVSS No. 305. In support of 
this contention, Toyota cites their belief that their FCV would comply 
with the relevant European standard (ECE R.100) and Global Technical 
Regulation (GTR) No. 13 which allow manufacturers to ensure electrical 
safety through methods such as encasing high voltage sources in a 
physical barrier.

IV. Completeness and Comment Period

    Upon receiving a petition, NHTSA conducts an initial review of the 
petition with respect to whether the petition is complete and whether 
the petitioner appears to be eligible to apply for the requested 
exemption. The agency has tentatively concluded that the petition from 
Toyota is complete and that Toyota is eligible to apply for a temporary 
exemption. The agency has not made any judgment on the merits of the 
application, and is placing a non-confidential copy of the petition in 
the docket.
    The agency seeks comment from the public on the merits of Toyota's 
application for a temporary exemption from the electrical safety 
requirements in paragraph S5.3 of FMVSS No. 305. 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 
application in the Federal Register.

    Dated: May 29, 2014.
Claude H. Harris,
Acting Associate Administrator, for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2014-13540 Filed 6-10-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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