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General Motors, LLC; Ruling on Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Topics:  Chevrolet Malibu

General Motors, LLC; Ruling on Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Nancy Lummen Lewis
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
March 2, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 40 (Monday, March 2, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11261-11262]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-04150]



[[Page 11261]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0144; Notice 2]


General Motors, LLC; Ruling on Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Ruling on petition.

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SUMMARY: General Motors, LLC (GM) has determined that certain model 
year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu passenger cars manufactured between June 21, 
2011 and July 24, 2012, do not fully comply with paragraphs S3.1.4.1 
(a) and (b) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 102, 
Transmission Shift Position Sequence, Starter Interlock, and 
Transmission Braking Effect. GM has filed an appropriate report dated 
August 3, 2012, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance 
Responsibility and Reports.

ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Mr. Vince 
Williams, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-2319, 
facsimile (202) 366-5930.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. GM's Petition: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) (see 
implementing rule at 49 CFR part 556), GM submitted a petition for an 
exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. 
Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to 
motor vehicle safety.
    Notice of receipt of GM's petition was published, with a 30-day 
public comment period, on September 30, 2013, in the Federal Register 
(78 FR 60019.) No comments were received. To view the petition and all 
supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the online 
search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2012-0144.''
    II. Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 23,910 model year 
2013 Chevrolet Malibu passenger cars manufactured between June 21, 2011 
and July 24, 2012.
    III. Noncompliance: GM explains that the noncompliance is that in 
the subject vehicles, because the primary shift lever position 
backlight in the console shift indicator can fail to illuminate, the 
transmission shift position selected in relation to the other gears is 
not always provided under the required conditions specified in S3.1.4.1 
(a) and (b).
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S3.1.4.1 (a) and (b) of FMVSS No. 102 
specifically states:

    S3.1.4 Identification of shift positions and of shift position 
sequence.
    S3.1.4.1 Except as specified in S3.1.4.3, if the transmission 
shift position sequence includes a park position, identification of 
shift positions, including the positions in relation to each other 
and the position selected, shall be displayed in view of the driver 
whenever any of the following conditions exist:
    (a) The ignition is in a position where the transmission can be 
shifted; or
    (b) The transmission is not in park.

    V. Summary of GM's Analyses: GM stated its belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for the 
following reasons:
    1. There is minimal risk that the operator will shift the vehicle 
out of park without being aware that the transmission shift position 
sequence display is not illuminated since the condition can only be 
initiated at key-up (engine crank). The condition cannot be initiated 
while driving.
    2. The condition corrects on the next ignition cycle. Throughout 
our investigation it never repeated on consecutive ignition cycles.
    3. The gear selected is always provided in a redundant display 
located in the instrument panel (IP) cluster.
    a. The up-level IP cluster is utilized in 85% of the vehicle 
production and displays the gear selected in relation to the other 
gears for 3 seconds whenever the vehicle is shifted. After 3 seconds 
the IP cluster displays only the gear selected.
    b. 15% of production has the base IP cluster which displays only 
the gear selected.
    4. The system is designed to minimize the risk that the operator 
will shift to an unintended gear.
    a. When shifting, a secondary motion (button push on shifter) is 
required to help prevent mis-shift. A button on the shift lever must be 
depressed when shifting from:
    i. PARK to any other gear:
    ii. REVERSE to any other gear: or
    iii. DRIVE to PARK or REVERSE
    b. NEUTRAL gear selection from DRIVE does not require a secondary 
motion (button push on shifter), making location of NEUTRAL easier in a 
panic situation.
    c. The gear selected is provided as a secondary display in the IP 
cluster and the shifter in the subject vehicle utilizes a linear shift 
pattern (used on U.S. vehicles for more than 50 years). Since the 
relationship between PARK, REVERSE, NEUTRAL and DRIVE is well 
understood by the driving public, this should assist the operator in 
determining the shift lever's position in relationship to the other 
gear positions even when not illuminated.
    d. Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) helps to assure the 
driver is not caught unaware when shifting from PARK since the operator 
must first apply the brake.
    e. On the subject vehicles miss-shifting is prevented while the 
vehicles are in motion. At speeds above 10 MPH, shifting from DRIVE to 
REVERSE or PARK; or shifting from REVERSE to PARK or DRIVE, is 
electronically inhibited.
    5. The frequency of the condition occurring is rare and random.
    a. As of 25 July 2012, there were only ten reported incidents which 
occurred on seven of 285 captured test fleet (CTF) vehicles. The 
condition was reported twice on two of the CTF vehicles and did not 
occur on consecutive ignition cycles.
    b. During the investigation, it took more than a week of testing 
during which approximately 1000 ignition cycles were conducted on each 
of four CTF vehicles reported to have the condition in order to 
recreate the occurrence.
    c. Warranty claims as of 25 July 2012
    i. U.S. Warranty 3 of 8,573 vehicles
    ii. China Warranty 2 of 11,872 vehicles
    iii. Korea Warranty 3 of 4,968 vehicles
    d. None of the Warranty claims or CTF reports indicated that the 
operator had experienced a mis-shift condition.
    e. No claims were discovered related to injury or crash.
    f. As of August 1, 2012, GM found no Vehicle Owner's Questionnaires 
(VOQs) resulting from the subject condition during its search of the 
NHTSA database.
    6. GM stated its belief that NHTSA granted a similar petition in 
the past.
    On August 16, 2013 GM additionally informed NHTSA in an email 
message that it corrected the noncompliance on August 3, 2012 so that 
all future production would comply with FMVSS No. 102.
    In summation, GM believes that the described noncompliance of the 
subject vehicles is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that 
its petition, to exempt from providing recall notification of 
noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the recall 
noncompliance as

[[Page 11262]]

required by 49 U.S.C. 30120 should be granted.
    VI. NHTSA's Decision: NHTSA has reviewed GM's analyses that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. GM 
has identified an intermittent condition during which the automatic 
transmission positions on the console-mounted transmission control will 
not be illuminated at key startup. FMVSS No. 102, paragraph S3.1.4.1 
requires the indicator to display identification of an automatic 
transmission's positions, including the position selected and the 
positions in relation to each other in view of the driver. FMVSS No. 
101, paragraph S5.3.1(b) and Table 1 require the automatic transmission 
control position indicator to be illuminated whenever the headlamps are 
activated. GM stated that the failure of illumination is very rare, has 
occurred only at startup (not during driving), and has never been found 
to repeat on consecutive ignition cycles. However, when it does occur, 
the transmission position indicator on the console will not be 
illuminated throughout that operating period. The indicator identifies 
P,R,N,D or M (M1-M6) and, except when the noncompliance occurs at key 
startup, is illuminated as required.
    FMVSS No. 102 paragraph S3.1.4 permits a redundant display 
providing some or all of the required information. GM identified two 
instrument clusters used in the affected vehicles that provide 
different amounts of redundant information. The transmission position 
selected is always displayed on both clusters. In addition, for 
vehicles other than the base model (approximately 15 percent of the 
affected vehicles), the cluster display includes the position selected 
and the positions in relation to each other for three seconds whenever 
the transmission is shifted.
    The redundant display on the cluster identifies the transmission 
position selected for all affected vehicles. It is likely that drivers 
will become accustomed to looking at the instrument cluster rather than 
looking down at the console to confirm the desired transmission 
position, i.e., ``D,'' has been selected. So the lack of illumination 
on the console at startup may go unnoticed. In a panic situation, an 
inexperienced driver may not be familiar with the other positions, 
i.e., how to shift from ``D'' to ``N'' to recover control of the 
vehicle if an unintended acceleration occurs. Since the cluster of 85 
percent of the vehicles displays this information for 3 seconds after 
every shift, this frequent reminder is considered sufficient to alert 
the driver about the relationship to the other transmission positions. 
The 15 percent (base models) are not so equipped and present an 
unreasonable risk to safety.
    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that for all 
except the base model vehicles, GM has met its burden of persuasion 
that the subject FMVSS No. 102 noncompliance is inconsequential to 
motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, GM's petition is hereby partially 
granted and GM is exempted from the obligation of providing 
notification of, and a remedy for the subject noncompliance for the 
non-base model Malibu vehicles (approximately 85 percent of the 
affected vehicles) under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.
    For the base model Malibu vehicles (approximately 15 percent of the 
affected vehicles), NHTSA has decided that GM has not met its burden of 
persuasion that the FMVSS No. 102 noncompliance is inconsequential to 
motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, for those vehicle's GM's petition is 
hereby denied and GM is obligated to provide notification of, and a 
remedy for, the subject noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.
    NHTSA notes that the statutory provisions (49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h)) that permit manufacturers to file petitions for a 
determination of inconsequentiality allow NHTSA to exempt manufacturers 
only from the duties found in sections 30118 and 30120, respectively, 
to notify owners, purchasers, and dealers of a defect or noncompliance 
and to remedy the defect or noncompliance. Therefore, this decision 
only applies to the 23,910 model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu passenger 
cars that GM no longer controlled at the time it determined that the 
noncompliance existed. However, the granting of this petition does not 
relieve vehicle distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the 
sale, offer for sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into 
interstate commerce of the noncompliant vehicles under their control 
after GM notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

    Authority: (49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8)

Nancy Lummen Lewis,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2015-04150 Filed 2-27-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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