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Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Volkswagen

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Audi Cabriolet

Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Volkswagen

Christopher A. Hart
Federal Highway Administration
March 31, 1994

[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 62 (Thursday, March 31, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-7597]

[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: March 31, 1994]


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention 
Standard; Volkswagen

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

ACTION: Grant of petition for exemption.


SUMMARY: This notice grants the petition by Volkswagen of America, Inc. 
(Volkswagen), for an exemption from the parts marking requirements of 
the vehicle theft prevention standard for a high theft car line, the 
Audi Cabriolet.

DATES: The exemption granted by this notice is effective for the 
Cabriolet line beginning with the 1995 model year.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Barbara A. Gray, Office of Market 
Incentives, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Ms. 
Gray's telephone number is (202) 366-1740.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 2, 1993, NHTSA received a letter 
from Volkswagen of America (Volkswagen), requesting an exemption from 
the theft prevention standard for the Audi Cabriolet, a high theft 
line. Volkswagen requested that the exemption for the Cabriolet line 
begin from the 1995 model year. The letter was submitted pursuant to 49 
CFR part 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard. For the 
Cabriolet line, Volkswagen requested an exemption from parts marking 
based on the installation of a theft deterrent system as standard 
    The information submitted by Volkswagen constituted a complete 
petition, as required by 49 CFR 543.7, in that the petition meets the 
general requirements contained in Sec. 543.5 and the specific content 
requirements of Sec. 543.6. In correspondence between Volkswagen and 
the agency, confidential treatment was granted for certain information 
that appears in Volkswagen's petition. In a letter dated December 16, 
1993, to Volkswagen, the agency granted the petitioner's request for 
confidential treatment of bracketed information in its letter to Mr. 
Barry Felrice, NHTSA Associate Administrator for Rulemaking, ``and 
    In its petition, Volkswagen provided a detailed description of the 
identity, design, and location of the components of the antitheft 
device for the Cabriolet line, including electrical schematics of the 
device and diagrams of the components and their location in the 
vehicle. Volkswagen stated that its antitheft system incorporates both 
an audio and visual alarm function, and an engine starter interrupt 
    Volkswagen stated that the antitheft system is automatically 
activated by the normal locking of the vehicle door. In order to arm 
the system, the key must be removed from the ignition switch; all of 
the doors, trunk lid, hood lid, and storage compartments must be 
closed; and the driver's or front passenger's door must be locked with 
the ignition key. Locking any door ensures that all doors, the hood, 
and trunk are locked.
    The blinking of an alarm system indicator light on the driver's 
door indicates that the device is armed. The system monitors the 
vehicle's doors, hood, trunk, ignition switch, and radio.
    If the system is armed and unauthorized entry is subsequently 
attempted, the antitheft device will be triggered, causing the alarm 
horn to sound and the vehicle's hazard warning flasher system to be 
actuated. Any subsequent attempt to enter any of the vehicle's 
monitored areas will again cause the horn to blare and the hazard 
warning system to flash.
    Additionally, the antitheft device will activate the starter-
interrupt relay, preventing the starting of the engine from the 
ignition switch. Volkswagen stated that to prevent defeat of the 
antitheft system, all system components are in inaccessible locations. 
Volkswagen described further measures to prevent unauthorized operation 
of its car lines.
    Volkswagen addressed the reliability and durability of its 
antitheft device by providing a description of the tests that were 
conducted on the device. Among these tests were tests for: Material 
requirements; operating voltages; temperature stability; mechanical 
properties; electrical requirements; electromagnetic compatibility; 
environmental compatibility; and service life. With its petition, 
Volkswagen included a certification that the antitheft device was 
tested according to Volkswagen's standard, including those tests 
relating to electrical and mechanical durability, and passed all the 
performance requirements of the tests.
    In discussing why it believes the antitheft device will be 
effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft, Volkswagen 
compared its antitheft device with similar antitheft devices, primarily 
manufactured by other manufacturers, that have been previously granted 
exemptions from this agency. Volkswagen stated that the theft rates of 
these comparable lines decreased when the antitheft device was made 
standard equipment, and have remained, for the most part, below the 
3.2712 median theft rate (based on 1983/84 data). Volkswagen cited the 
experiences of the: Nissan Maxima, that went from a theft rate of 4.18 
(all figures provided are for thefts per thousand vehicles) in 1984 to 
a theft rate of 1.99 in 1985; the Mazda RX-7, that went from a theft 
rate of 12.11 in 1984 to a theft rate of 6.09 in 1989; the Toyota 
Cressida, that went from a theft rate of 10.3 in 1985 to a theft rate 
of 7.3 in 1988; and the Audi 5000, that went from a theft rate of 1.98 
in 1987 to a theft rate of 1.26 in 1988. The agency concurs with 
Volkswagen that these antitheft devices manufactured by other 
manufacturers (and the device on the Audi 5000) are comparable to the 
system planned by Volkswagen for its Cabriolet line.
    NHTSA believes that there is substantial evidence indicating that 
the antitheft device to be installed as standard equipment in the 
Volkswagen Audi Cabriolet line that is the subject of this notice, will 
likely be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as 
compliance with the requirements of the theft prevention standard (49 
CFR part 541). This determination is based on the information 
Volkswagen submitted with its petition and on other available 
information. The agency believes that the device will provide all of 
the types of performance listed in Sec. 543.6(a)(3): promoting 
activation; preventing defeat or circumventing of the device by 
unauthorized persons; preventing operation of the vehicle by 
unauthorized entrants; and ensuring the reliability and durability of 
the device.
    As required by section 605(b) of the statute and 49 CFR 
543.6(a)(4), the agency also finds that Volkswagen has provided 
adequate reasons for its belief that the antitheft device will reduce 
and deter theft. This conclusion is based on the information Volkswagen 
provided on its device. This information included a description of 
reliability and functional tests conducted by Volkswagen for the 
antitheft device and its components.
    For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby exempts the Volkswagen 
Audi Cabriolet line that is the subject of this notice, in whole from 
the requirements of 49 CFR part 541.
    If Volkswagen decides not to use the exemption for the Cabriolet 
line, it should formally notify the agency. If such a decision is made, 
the Cabriolet line must be fully marked according to the requirements 
under 49 CFR 541.5 and 541.6 (marking of major component parts and 
replacement parts).
    The agency notes that the limited and apparently conflicting data 
on the effectiveness of the pre-standard parts marking programs 
continue to make it difficult to compare the effectiveness of an 
antitheft device with the effectiveness of compliance with the theft 
prevention standard. The statute clearly invites such a comparison, 
which the agency has made on the basis of the limited data available. 
With implementation of the requirements of the ``Anti Car Theft Act of 
1992,'' NHTSA anticipates more probative data upon which comparisons 
may be made.
    NHTSA notes that if Volkswagen wishes in the future to modify the 
device on which this exemption is based, the company may have to submit 
a petition to modify the exemption. Section 543.7(d) states that a part 
543 exemption applies only to vehicles that belong to a line exempted 
under this part and equipped with the antitheft device on which the 
line's exemption is based. Further, Sec. 543.9(c)(2) provides for the 
submission of petitions ``(t)o modify an exemption to permit the use of 
an antitheft device similar to but differing from the one specified in 
that exemption.''
    The agency wishes to minimize the administrative burden which 
Sec. 543.9(c)(2) could place on exempted vehicle manufacturers and 
itself. The agency did not intend in drafting part 543 to require the 
submission of a modification petition for every change to the 
components or design of an antitheft device. The significance of many 
such changes could be de minimis. Therefore, NHTSA suggests that if the 
manufacturer contemplates making any changes the effects of which might 
be characterized as de minimis, it should consult the agency before 
preparing and submitting a petition to modify.

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 2025; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 

    Issued on: March 25, 1994.
Christopher A. Hart,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-7597 Filed 3-30-94; 8:45 am]

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