Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Volkswagen
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)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-7597]
[Federal Register: March 31, 1994]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention
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
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
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
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
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,
[FR Doc. 94-7597 Filed 3-30-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|