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Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP15-003

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Chrysler Crossfire

Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP15-003

Frank S. Borris, II
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
August 19, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 160 (Wednesday, August 19, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 50379-50381]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-20380]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP15-003

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

ACTION: Denial of petition for a defect investigation.

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SUMMARY: This notice states the reasons for denying a petition (DP 15-
003) submitted to NHTSA under 49 U.S.C. 30162, 49 CFR part 522, 
requesting that the agency open an investigation into delamination or 
separation of the back glass from the convertible top material on model 
year 2005 Chrysler Crossfire vehicles.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. John Abbott, Office of Defects 
Investigation (ODI), NHTSA; 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 
20590. Telephone: (202) 366-5221. Email: John.Abbott@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Introduction

    Interested persons may petition NHTSA requesting that the Agency 
initiate an investigation to determine whether a motor vehicle or item 
of replacement equipment does not comply with an applicable motor 
vehicle safety standard or contains a defect that relates to motor 
vehicle safety. 49 U.S.C. 30162(a) (2): 49 CFR 522.1. Upon receipt of a 
properly filed petition, the agency conducts a technical review of the 
petition, material submitted with the petition, and any additional 
information. 49 U.S.C. 30162(c); 49 CFR 552.6. After considering the 
technical review and taking into account appropriate factors, which may 
include, among others, allocation of agency resources, agency

[[Page 50380]]

priorities, and the likelihood of success in litigation that might 
arise from a determination of noncompliance or a defect related to 
motor vehicle safety, the agency will grant or deny the petition. 49 
U.S.C. 30162(d): 49 CFR 552.8.

II. Petition Background Information

    In a letter dated June 14, 2014, Mr. Wayne DeVries petitioned NHTSA 
to, ``. . . hold a hearing on whether this manufacturer [Chrysler] has 
reasonably met its obligation to notify and/or remedy a safety defect 
or noncompliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.'' The 
petition request was in reference to model year (MY) 2005 Chrysler 
Crossfire Roadster vehicles in which the convertible top back glass can 
delaminate or separate from its adhesive bond to the convertible top 
material.
    Part 557 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), 
establishes the procedures for conducting a hearing to determine 
whether a manufacturer has reasonably met its obligation to notify 
owners of a safety related defect and provide a remedy for that defect. 
Before the agency can hold such a hearing, a determination that a 
defect exists must be made either by the manufacturer or the agency. 
Because a safety related defect has not been determined by either 
Chrysler, or the agency, regarding the convertible top back glass in MY 
2005 Crossfire Roadster vehicles, ODI interpreted Mr. DeVries letter as 
a request for a Defect Petition. In accordance with Title 49 CFR part 
522, Petitions for Rulemaking, Defects, and Noncompliance Orders, NHTSA 
conducted a review of the petition and other information to decide 
whether to open a formal investigation to determine if a safety related 
defect exists in MY 2005 Crossfire Roadsters.

III. ODI Analysis of the Defect Petition Request

    To assess the petitioner's request and his complaint as to whether 
separation of the convertible top back glass in MY 2005 Crossfire 
Roadster vehicles demonstrates or presents an unreasonable risk to 
motor vehicle safety, ODI reviewed and analyzed the following 
information and conducted telephone interviews with complainants:
     A review of all of the petitioner's letters and VOQ's;
     A review of the petitioner's vehicle experience;
     A review of a Chrysler warranty policy extension;
     A review of all potentially related VOQs for all model 
year Crossfire Roadsters;
     Telephone interviews with complainants;
     A review of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 
(FMVSS); and,
     A review and analysis of complaint, claim, field report, 
and warranty information from Chrysler LLC. (Chrysler), and Fiat 
Chrysler Automobiles US, LLC. (FCA) provided in response to an ODI 
information request.

Petitioner's Complaint

    Between May 2013 and August 2014, the petitioner sent five letters 
to NHTSA, and filed an additional five Vehicle Owner Questionnaires 
(VOQ), concerning the convertible top back glass in MY 2005 Crossfire 
Roadster vehicles. The petitioner's concern is that the adhesive that 
bonds the back glass to the inside of the convertible top fails. When 
the adhesive fails, the glass falls inside the vehicle and, if it 
separates completely from the top, will no longer be attached to any 
structure that controls movement. His correspondence offers many varied 
and different scenarios of possible consequences from delamination or 
separation of the glass from the convertible top. The petitioner 
believes that the design, construction, and attachment of any window is 
critical to the safe operation of the vehicle as intended, under any 
conditions such as inclement weather, highway speeds, etc., and that 
the separation of the rear glass in the subject vehicles poses an 
unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety. Finally, the petitioner 
suggests that Chrysler's limited extended warranty policy covering the 
glass is ``unreasonable'' because it is limited to vehicles that were 
originally sold in certain states.

Petitioner's Vehicle Experience

    The petitioner owns a MY 2005 Crossfire Roadster and resides in 
California. His vehicle was not included in Chrysler's extended 
warranty as his vehicle was originally sold in California. According to 
the petitioner, he noted the convertible top back glass was starting to 
delaminate/separate from the convertible top at the driver's side lower 
corner. As a precaution, and to prevent it from separating completely, 
the glass was propped-up from the inside of the vehicle and taped to 
the convertible top material on the outside of the vehicle. The 
petitioner's attempts to have the vehicle's convertible top replaced at 
Chrysler's expense were unsuccessful. According to the petitioner, 
replacement of the entire convertible top is the only viable remedy 
offered by Chrysler once the rear glass separates from the top. 
Ultimately, the petitioner paid to have the top replaced.

Summary of Chryslers Extended Warranty

    In September 2011 Chrysler notified its dealer network via 
``Warranty Bulletin'' that it would extend the warranty for convertible 
top back glass adhesion in MY 2005 Crossfire Roadsters. The warranty 
extension covers these vehicles for 10 years or 100,000 miles, 
whichever occurs first, for vehicles shipped to dealers in the states 
of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, 
South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. No other Crossfire Roadsters were 
included in the extended warranty. For vehicles subject to this 
extended warranty, Chrysler will replace the entire convertible top if 
the rear glass separates from the top within 10 years or 100,000 miles.

Summary of Related VOQ Reports

    ODI reviewed all VOQ reports in its database relating to 
convertible top back glass separation in all MY Crossfire Roadsters. 
The review encompassed VOQ reports received from June 23, 2008 through 
July 8, 2015. As noted in Table 1, ODI analyzed 273 VOQ reports 
alleging some degree of rear glass separation. None of the VOQs alleged 
that rear glass separation was related to crashes, injuries, or 
fatalities. Out of the 273 VOQ's ODI reviewed, four alleged that the 
back glass separated from the vehicle onto the roadway.\1\ Table 1 
provides a summary count of the VOQ reports by model year.
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    \1\ ODI spoke with 47 of the complainants including three that 
alleged a roadway incident. Two of the roadway complainants had 
experienced previous glass bonding issues prior to separation. There 
is no factual evidence (police accident reports, photos, repair 
invoices, etc.) for the roadway reports that confirms these 
allegations.

[[Page 50381]]



                                  Table 1--Crossfire VOQ Reports by Model Year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Model year                 Reports         Crashes        Injuries       Fatalities        Roadway
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2005............................             211               0               0               0               3
2006............................              44               0               0               0               1
2007............................               9               0               0               0               0
2008............................               9               0               0               0               0
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................             273               0               0               0               4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FMVSS No. 212; Windshield Mounting

    This standard establishes the retention requirements for 
windshields in motor vehicle crashes. The purpose of the standard is to 
reduce injuries and fatalities in crashes by providing retention of a 
vehicles windshield during a crash by utilizing the penetration-
resistance and injury-avoidance properties of the windshield glazing 
material and preventing occupant ejection from the vehicle. This 
standard does not apply to the back glass at issue in this petition. No 
other FMVSS establishes a minimum level of performance for back glass 
retention in either convertible or hard top vehicles.

IV. ODI's Assessment

    The adhesive bond of the convertible top back glass to the top 
material can lose its bonding properties over time. From complainant 
descriptions, it appears that separation of the glass generally starts 
in a small area, possibly at a lower corner. Over time, the separation 
can progress around the glass to a point at which the glass is visibly 
and physically loose from the top material and in some cases can 
separate completely from the top. Because of the angle at which the 
glass is installed in the top it will tend to fall inside of the 
vehicle onto the tonneau cover, behind the only two available seats for 
the vehicle occupants. In addition, the glass panel in question is 
larger than the rear window opening in the convertible top. Therefore, 
the glass would have to rotate and move in several planes of motion to 
pass through the rear window opening after detaching from the top.
    ODI has also previously examined rear window separation in the 
subject vehicles. Based on 11 VOQs reporting some degree of rear glass 
separation, ODI first examined rear glass separation in MY 2005 
Chrysler Crossfire Roadsters in late 2009. Soon thereafter, ODI 
contacted Chrysler seeking complaint information concerning the issue. 
Chrysler provided a confidential response to ODI on January 29, 2010. 
Chrysler's response did not contain any information indicating that the 
separation of the rear glass in the subject vehicles posed an 
unreasonable risk to safety. However, Chrysler subsequently provided a 
limited extended warranty to some owners.
    As part of this petition analysis, ODI sent an information request 
\2\ to FCA requesting information for any reports that resulted in any 
injury or fatality to any person either in the vehicle or outside of 
the vehicle; a vehicle crash or loss of control incident; or a back 
glass leaving the confines of the vehicle top. FCA's response to this 
request provided one report in which it was alleged that the back glass 
went off the back of the vehicle while being driven. FCA's response 
letter \3\ explains that the Company believes that the back glass did 
not separate and fall off the back of the vehicle as alleged by the 
individual submitting the complaint to FCA. ODI also notes that FCA's 
May 19, 2015 response letter answering our information request for this 
petition erroneously concludes that ODI previously found that no safety 
defect existed when we reviewed information submitted by Chrysler on 
January 29, 2010. ODI's decision not to take further action at that 
time is not, as Chrysler suggests, a finding that no safety defect 
existed.
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    \2\ Please see ODI's April 27, 2015 letter to FCA in file DP15-
003.
    \3\ See FCA DP15-003 response letter of May 19, 2015 in file 
DP15-003.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ODI's analysis, our second examination of Crossfire Roadster rear 
window separations, indicates that there are not any crashes, deaths or 
injuries related to this issue. The configuration of the window opening 
and the size of the window glass itself indicate that it is unlikely 
that the glass would pass through the window opening once the rear 
glass has completely separated from the convertible top. Further, 
although the petitioner states that Chrysler's extended warranty policy 
for these vehicles is unreasonable, the question that ODI must answer 
is whether the separation of the rear glass from the convertible top 
results in an unreasonable risk to safety. The evidence revealed by our 
analysis does not presently support such a finding.

V. Conclusion

    For the reasons presented in the petition analysis, and after 
thorough assessment of the potential risks to safety, it is unlikely 
that an order concerning the notification and remedy of a safety-
related defect would be issued as a result of granting Mr. Devries 
petition. After full consideration of the potential for finding a 
safety related defect in these vehicles and in view of the need to 
allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish 
the agency's mission, the petition is respectfully denied.
    This action does not constitute a finding by NHTSA that a safety-
related defect does not exist. The Agency will take further action if 
warranted by future circumstances.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30162(d); delegations of authority at CFR 
1.95 and 501.8.

Frank S. Borris, II,
Acting Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2015-20380 Filed 8-18-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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