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Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Mercedes-Benz Usa, LLC

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Smart

Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Mercedes-Benz Usa, LLC

Raymond R. Posten
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
April 14, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 71 (Tuesday, April 14, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 20062-20064]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-08491]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention 
Standard; Mercedes-Benz Usa, LLC

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

ACTION: Grant of petition for exemption.

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SUMMARY: This document grants in full the Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC's 
(MBUSA) petition for an exemption of the smart Line Chassis vehicle 
line in accordance with 49 CFR part 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard. This petition is granted because the agency has 
determined that the antitheft device to be placed on the line as 
standard equipment is likely to be as effective in reducing and 
deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking 
requirements of 49 CFR part 541, Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention 
Standard (Theft Prevention Standard).

DATES: The exemption granted by this notice is effective beginning with 
the 2016 model year (MY).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Deborah Mazyck, Office of 
International Policy, Fuel Economy, and Consumer Programs, NHTSA, W43-
443, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. Ms. Mazyck's 
phone number is (202) 366-4139. Her fax number is (202) 493-2990.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a petition dated December 17, 2014, MBUSA 
requested an exemption from the parts-marking requirements of the Theft 
Prevention Standard for the Mercedes-Benz smart Line Chassis vehicle 
line beginning with MY 2016. The petition requested an exemption from 
parts-marking pursuant to 49 CFR part 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard, based on the installation of an antitheft device 
as standard equipment for the entire vehicle line.
    Under 49 CFR 543.5(a), a manufacturer may petition NHTSA to grant 
an exemption for one vehicle line per model year. In its petition, 
MBUSA provided a detailed description and diagram of the identity, 
design, and location of the components of the antitheft device for the 
smart Line Chassis vehicle line which includes the smart fortwo 
vehicle. MBUSA stated that its MY 2016 smart Line Chassis vehicle line 
will be equipped with its passive, transponder-based ignition 
immobilizer (FBS III/FBS IV) antitheft device and an access code-
protected locking system as standard equipment. Key components of the 
immobilizer antitheft device will include the immobilizer, transmitter 
key, electronic ignition starter switch control unit (EIS), the body 
control module (ECM), and the engine control module (ECU). MBUSA stated 
that its immobilizer device is an interlinked system of control units 
which collectively perform the immobilizer function. The interlinked 
system includes the engine, EIS, transmitter key, ECU and ECM 
(including the fuel injection system) which independently calculates 
and matches a unique code. MBUSA stated that it is impossible to read 
the code from the vehicle in order to defeat the system. If a relevant 
query from the vehicle to the transmitter key is valid, operation of 
the vehicle will be authorized. MBUSA further stated that it will offer 
an audible and visible alarm

[[Page 20063]]

system as optional equipment on the line to detect unauthorized vehicle 
entry. MBUSA's submission is considered a complete petition as required 
by 49 CFR 543.7, in that it meets the general requirements contained in 
Sec.  543.5 and the specific content requirements of Sec.  543.6.
    MBUSA stated that the antitheft device is deactivated when the 
transmitter key has been inserted in the EIS and energy is transferred 
to the key to verify drive authorization. Verification of the correct 
key is transmitted over an infrared link between the key and the EIS. 
If the authentication check has recognized the correct key, the EIS 
will allow the key to be turned to the ``Start Engine'' position. MBUSA 
stated that when the key then reaches the ``Ignition on'' position, the 
authentication sequence in the ECM and ECU will start. The ECM then 
receives authorization from the EIS following authentication 
verification. MBUSA further stated that if the values from the 
authentication are identical, the ECM will authorize the start and 
operation of the vehicle will be allowed. Activation of the device 
occurs automatically when the key is removed from the ignition switch. 
Once activated, only a valid key with the correct code inserted into 
the ignition switch will disable immobilization and allow the vehicle 
to start and operate. MBUSA further stated that no other action by the 
operator other than turning the key is required to activate or 
deactivate the immobilizer.
    In its submission, MBUSA stated that a locking/unlocking feature is 
also incorporated into the device. An encoded data exchange between the 
transmitter key and the vehicle's central controller for the lock/
unlock feature (ECM) is carried out by radio signal. When an unlocking 
signal from the remote key sends a permanent and rolling code message 
to the vehicle's central ECU, the device will compare the permanent 
code with the stored code in the ECM. If the permanent codes match, the 
rolling codes are then compared. MBUSA stated that if both codes match, 
the locking system will unlock the doors, tailgate and fuel filler 
cover.
    In addressing the specific content requirements of Sec.  543.6, 
MBUSA provided information on the reliability and durability of its 
proposed device. To ensure reliability and durability of the device, 
MBUSA conducted tests based on its own specified standards. MBUSA 
provided a detailed list of the tests conducted and believes that the 
device is reliable and durable since it complied with its own specified 
requirements for each test. MBUSA also conducted performance tests 
based on the Economic Commission for Europe's (ECE) specified 
standards. MBUSA provided a detailed list of the tests conducted and 
believes that the immobilizer device offered on the smart Line Chassis 
vehicle line is reliable and durable because the device complied with 
the specified requirements for each test.
    MBUSA also stated that it believes that the immobilizer device 
offered on the smart Line Chassis vehicle line will be at least as 
effective as compliance with the parts-marking requirements of the 
theft prevention standard and as effective in deterring theft as it has 
been on other MBUSA vehicle lines that have been equipped with an 
antitheft device, as demonstrated by the low theft rate history of 
MBUSA vehicles. MBUSA stated that its proposed device is also 
functionally equivalent to the antitheft devices installed on the 
Mercedes-Benz S-Class, E-Class, C-Class, SLK-Class, SL-Class and NGCC 
Chassis vehicles, which the agency has exempted from the parts-marking 
requirements beginning with MYs 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2014 
respectively. MBUSA also referenced theft rate data published by the 
agency comparing its proposed device to antitheft devices already 
installed in the BMW MINI, Honda Fit and Toyota Scion xB vehicle lines. 
MBUSA stated that theft data published by the agency show that the 
average theft rate for the BMW MINI Cooper with an immobilizer device 
was 0.4422 in MY/CY 2010 and 0.3413 in MY/CY 2012. MBUSA also 
referenced theft rate data published by the agency for the Honda Fit 
and Toyota Scion xB vehicle lines (with immobilizers) which showed a 
theft rate of 0.3118 and 0.2167 (MY/CYs 2011 and 2012) for the Honda 
Fit and 1.1553 and 0.5110 (MY/CYs 2011 and 2012) for the Toyota Scion 
xB respectively. MBUSA stated that it believes that this data also 
indicates that the immobilizer device was effective in contributing to 
an average reduction of 22.8%, 30.5%, and 47.7% reduction in the theft 
rate of the BMW MINI Cooper, Honda Fit and Toyota Scion xB, 
respectively. MBUSA also stated it believes that the data indicates the 
immobilizer device was effective in contributing to an average 
reduction of 29.9% in the theft rate for the SL-Line Chassis when theft 
rates for the vehicle line dropped from 1.4170 (CY 2005) to 1.0460 (CY 
2007).
    Based on the supporting evidence submitted by MBUSA on its device, 
the agency believes that the device is substantially similar to devices 
installed in other vehicle lines for which the agency has already 
granted exemptions and that the antitheft device for the smart Line 
Chassis vehicle line is likely to be as effective in reducing and 
deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking 
requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard (49 CFR 541).
    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 33106 and 49 CFR 543.7 (b), the agency grants 
a petition for exemption from the parts-marking requirements of Part 
541, either in whole or in part, if it determines that, based upon 
substantial evidence, the standard equipment antitheft device is likely 
to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as 
compliance with the parts-marking requirements of Part 541. The agency 
finds that MBUSA has provided adequate reasons for its belief that the 
antitheft device for the MBUSA smart vehicle line is likely to be as 
effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance 
with the parts-marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard 
(49 CFR part 541). This conclusion is based on the information MBUSA 
provided about its antitheft device.
    The agency concludes that the device will provide four of the five 
types of performance listed in Sec.  543.6(a)(3): Promoting activation; 
preventing defeat or circumvention of the device by unauthorized 
persons; preventing operation of the vehicle by unauthorized entrants; 
and ensuring the reliability and durability of the device.
    For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full MBUSA's 
petition for exemption for the MBUSA smart Line Chassis vehicle line 
from the parts-marking requirements of 49 CFR part 541. The agency 
notes that 49 CFR part 541, Appendix A-1, identifies those lines that 
are exempted from the Theft Prevention Standard for a given model year. 
49 CFR part 543.7(f) contains publication requirements incident to the 
disposition of all Part 543 petitions. Advanced listing, including the 
release of future product nameplates, the beginning model year for 
which the petition is granted and a general description of the 
antitheft device is necessary in order to notify law enforcement 
agencies of new vehicle lines exempted from the parts-marking 
requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard.
    If MBUSA decides not to use the exemption for this line, it must 
formally notify the agency. If such a decision is made, the line must 
be fully marked according to the requirements under 49 CFR parts 541.5 
and 541.6 (marking of major component parts and replacement parts).

[[Page 20064]]

    NHTSA notes that if MBUSA 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. Part 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, Part 543.9(c)(2) provides for the 
submission of petitions ``to 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 that Part 
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.

    Under authority delegated in 49 CFR part 1.95.
Raymond R. Posten,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2015-08491 Filed 4-13-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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