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AC Cars Ltd; Grant of Petition for Temporary Exemption From Standard No. 208

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  AC Ace

AC Cars Ltd; Grant of Petition for Temporary Exemption From Standard No. 208

Christopher A. Hart
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
May 9, 1994

[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 88 (Monday, May 9, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-11008]

[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: May 9, 1994]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. 94-10; Notice 2]


AC Cars Ltd; Grant of Petition for Temporary Exemption From 
Standard No. 208

    AC Cars Ltd. of Weybridge, Surrey, England, petitioned for a 
temporary exemption until November 1, 1996, for its Ace model, from the 
automatic protection requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. The basis of the petition 
was that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship.
    Notice of receipt of the petition was published on February 2, 
1994, and an opportunity afforded for comment (59 FR 4964). This notice 
grants the petition.

Petitioner's Hardship Arguments

    Under 15 U.S.C. 1410(a)(1)(A), the Administrator may provide a 
temporary exemption upon a finding that ``compliance would cause 
substantial economic hardship and that the manufacturer has, in good 
faith, attempted to comply * * *.''
    The following is a summary of AC's petition. The company is 
privately owned and produced no motor vehicles during the 12 months 
preceding the filing of its petition. The first prototype of the Ace 
was shown in 1986. Since then, the company has spent much time 
redesigning it ``to meet the increasingly higher standards of emissions 
and safety * * * with the original intentions of achieving first sales 
into North America.'' As of the date of the petition, the petitioner 
has spent approximately 5,000,000 Pounds Sterling on the project, 
100,000 of which (and 1,250 man hours) have been spent in the two years 
preceding the filing of the petition in research and development 
relating to meeting the automatic restraint requirements of Standard 
No. 208. Because the Ace is a full convertible, the company found that 
it could not adopt an automatic seat belt system. Additional design 
changes, development and actual testing are necessary in order to 
install in the Ace an airbag system that meets Standard No. 208. Being 
a small manufacturer of motor vehicles, the petitioner has had to rely 
on the expertise of outside parties in the design and development of 
necessary components.
    AC concluded that modifications of the following will be required 
to accommodate driver and passenger side airbag systems: interior dash 
and cockpit components, seats, steering wheel and chassis. The 
estimated cost of these modifications is 750,000 Pounds Sterling, 
exclusive of testing costs. The company's balance sheet shows that its 
cumulative losses, which were approximately 1,500,000 Pounds Sterling 
as of December 31, 1989, increased to approximately 4,275,000 Pounds 
Sterling as of September 30, 1993.
    The company anticipates that it will be able to conform by November 
1, 1996. It projects total sales of 200 units in 1994 and 350 in 1995, 
half of which are proposed for North American sales.

Arguments Why an Exemption Would be in the Public Interest and 
Consistent With Traffic Safety Objectives

    In order to grant an exemption, the Administrator must also find 
that the exemption is in the public interest and consistent with the 
objectives of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the 
Act). In support of its petition, AC informed NHTSA that the Ace will 
be equipped with a three-point restraint system that conforms to 
Standard No. 208, ``the mountings of which have been tested in 
accordance with and achieved FMV210 (sic) US standard approval.'' 
Further, except for the automatic restraint requirements, the Ace has 
been designed to meet all other Federal motor vehicle safety standards, 
and the bumper standard. It will be manufactured ``using the following 
US sourced components: Ford engine, transmission, exhaust, wiring and 
associated components.'' According to the petitioner, ``US parts 
sourcing and dealer network labor involvement is also in the best 
interest of the US economy.''
    No comments were received on the petition.
    The agency is cognizant of the history of AC Cars Ltd., a 
manufacturer of ancient lineage whose production during the 70 years or 
so of its existence has been minimal, and, in the past decade, 
sporadic. The Ace is a refinement of a 1986 prototype which had not 
entered production as of the time that the company filed its petition. 
In spite of its cumulative net losses, AC has been able to engineer a 
passenger car that it avers is in compliance with all Federal motor 
vehicle safety and bumper standards with the exception of the standard 
for which it seeks temporary exemption. With respect to Standard No. 
208, NHTSA is aware of the problems that small manufacturers have in 
interesting outside concerns to engineer and supply automatic restraint 
systems for unique vehicles of very limited production. AC appears to 
have determined the areas of its product that must be revised in order 
to conform to Standard No. 208, and to have established a schedule for 
achieving compliance. The Ace will be equipped with a three-point 
restraint system in each of its two designated seating positions. The 
decision to engineer for airbags appears particularly appropriate given 
the mandate that all cars be equipped with driver and passenger airbags 
and given the extra expense that would result from designing first for 
automatic belts and then for air bags. The car will utilize a US-
manufactured drive train and other components.
    Accordingly, it is hereby found that to require compliance would 
cause the petitioner substantial economic hardship and that the 
petitioner has made a good faith effort to comply with the standard for 
which exemption is requested. It is further found that a temporary 
exemption would be in the public interest and consistent with the 
objectives of the Act. AC Cars Ltd. is granted NHTSA Temporary 
Exemption 94-3, expiring November 1, 1996, from S4.1.4 of 49 CFR 
571.208 Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208 Occupant Crash 

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1410; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 

    Issued on: May 3, 1994.
Christopher A. Hart,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-11008 Filed 5-6-94; 8:45 am]

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