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Petition for Exemption From the Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; General Motors LLC

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Chevrolet Volt

Petition for Exemption From the Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; General Motors LLC

Raymond R. Posten
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
18 January 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 11 (Wednesday, January 18, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5642-5644]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-00977]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Petition for Exemption From the Federal Motor Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard; General Motors LLC

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

ACTION: Grant of petition for exemption.

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SUMMARY: This document grants in full the General Motors LLC's (GM) 
petition for an exemption of the Chevrolet Volt 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 2018 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.

[[Page 5643]]


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a petition dated October 6, 2016, GM 
requested an exemption from the parts-marking requirements of the Theft 
Prevention Standard for the Chevrolet Volt vehicle line beginning with 
MY 2018. 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 part 543.5(a), a manufacturer may petition NHTSA to 
grant an exemption for one vehicle line per model year. In its 
petition, GM provided a detailed description and diagram of the 
identity, design, and location of the components of the antitheft 
device for the MY 2018 Chevrolet Volt vehicle line. GM stated that its 
Chevrolet Volt vehicle line will be installed with the PASS-Key III+ 
antitheft device as standard equipment. The PASS-Key III+ is a passive, 
transponder based, electronic engine immobilizer antitheft device. GM 
stated that a keyless ignition system will be installed on its 
Chevrolet Volt vehicle line. Key components of its PASS-Key III+ system 
will include an electronically-coded ignition key, a body control 
module (BCM) with integrated PASS-Key III+ controller, engine control 
module (ECM), immobilizer exciter module, radio frequency (RF) receiver 
module, passive antenna module and low frequency antennas (LF). The 
electronic key is incorporated within a remote key fob. The key fob 
contains buttons to perform normal remote keyless door entry functions. 
GM stated that the device will provide protection against unauthorized 
use (i.e., starting and engine fueling), but will not provide any 
visible or audible indication of unauthorized vehicle entry (i.e., 
flashing lights or horn alarm).
    GM'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.
    In addressing the specific content requirements of 543.6, GM 
provided information on the reliability and durability of its proposed 
device. To ensure reliability and durability of the device, GM 
conducted tests based on its own specified standards. GM provided 
information on the specific tests it uses to validate the integrity, 
durability and reliability of the PASS-Key III+ device and believes 
that the device is reliable and durable since the components must 
operate as designed after each test. GM also stated that the design and 
assembly processes of the PASS-Key III+ subsystem and components are 
validated for 10 years of vehicle life and 150,000 miles of 
performance. The PASS-Key III+ incorporates a higher level of 
electrical sophistication by utilizing an electronic key that is 
protected from electrical duplication.
    GM stated that the PASS-Key III+ device is designed to be active at 
all times without direct intervention by the vehicle operator. No 
separate intentional action to turn on the security system is needed to 
achieve protection. Activation of the device occurs when the operator 
pushes the engine Start/Stop switch to the ``OFF'' position. 
Deactivation of the immobilizer device occurs when a valid key and 
matching immobilization code is verified, allowing the engine to start 
and continue normal operations. When the operator pushes the Engine 
Start/Stop switch to begin vehicle operation, the vehicle transmits 
randomly generated data and a vehicle identifier within the passenger 
compartment of the vehicle through three low-frequency antennas that is 
controlled by the passive antenna module. The electronic key receives 
the data and compares its vehicle identifier with the identifier 
previously assigned to the vehicle. If the vehicle identifier matches 
the identifier of the vehicle for which the key is programmed, the 
electronic key will transmit a response through the RF channel to a 
vehicle mounted receiver. The PASS-Key III+ control module receives the 
RF transmission and compares the received response with an internally 
calculated response. If the values match, the key is recognized as 
valid and a password is then transmitted through a serial data link to 
the ECM to enable fueling and vehicle starting. If an invalid key code 
is detected, the system will not transmit a password to the ECM to 
allow operation of the vehicle. Additionally, if an invalid electronic 
key code is received, the vehicle will not be allowed to transition 
from the ``Off'' mode to the ``Accessory'', ``On'', or ``Start'' mode 
positions inhibiting starting, ignition, and fuel flow of the vehicle.
    GM further stated that the ignition key contains electronics which 
provides billions of possible electronic combinations. The electronics 
receive energy and data from the antenna module. Upon receipt of the 
data, and a vehicle indicator match, the electronic key will calculate 
a response to the data using an internal encryption algorithm and 
transmit the response back to the vehicle. The antenna module then 
translates the radio frequency signal received from the key into a 
digital signal and passes the signal on to the controller module. The 
controller module then compares the received response to an internally 
calculated value. If the values match, the key is recognized as valid 
and a password is transmitted through a serial data link to the ECM to 
enable fueling and vehicle starting. GM also stated that a secondary 
data challenge and response process using another encryption algorithm 
must be validated by the engine controller to allow continued 
operation. If an invalid key code is received, the PASS-Key III+ 
controller module will send a ``Disable Password'' to the engine 
control module and starting, ignition, and fuel flow will be inhibited.
    GM stated that the PASS-Key III+ device has been designed to 
enhance the functionality and theft protection provided by its first, 
second and third generation PASS-Key, PASS-Key II, and PASS-Key III 
devices. GM also referenced data provided by the American Automobile 
Manufacturers Association (AAMA) in support of the effectiveness of 
GM's PASS-Key devices in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft 
found in the AAMA's comments referencing the agency's Preliminary 
Report on ``Auto Theft and Recovery Effects of the Anti-Car Theft Act 
of 1992 and the Motor Vehicle Theft Law Enforcement Act of 1984'', 
(Docket 97-042; Notice 1).
    GM also noted that theft data have indicated a decline in theft 
rates for vehicle lines equipped with comparable devices that have 
received full exemptions from the parts-marking requirements. GM stated 
that the theft data, as provided by the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and compiled 
by the agency, show that theft rates are lower for exempted GM models 
equipped with the PASS-Key like systems than the theft rates for 
earlier models with similar appearance and construction that were 
parts-marked. Based on the performance of the PASS-Key, PASS-Key II, 
and PASS-Key III devices on other GM models, and the advanced 
technology utilized in PASS-Key III+, GM believes that the PASS-Key 
III+ device will be more effective in deterring theft than the parts-
marking requirements of 49 CFR part 541.
    GM stated that it believes that PASS-Key III+ devices will be at 
least as effective in deterring theft as the parts-marking requirements 
and that the agency should find that installation of the PASS-Key III+ 
device on the Chevrolet Volt vehicle line is sufficient to qualify it 
for full exemption from the parts-marking requirements.

[[Page 5644]]

    Based on the evidence submitted by GM, the agency believes that the 
antitheft device for the Chevrolet Volt 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).
    GM's proposed device lacks an audible or visible alarm. Therefore, 
this device cannot perform one of the functions listed in 49 CFR part 
543.6(a)(3), that is, to call attention to unauthorized attempts to 
enter or move the vehicle. The agency concludes that the device will 
provide the 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.
    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 GM has provided adequate reasons for its belief that the 
antitheft device for the Chevrolet Volt 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 GM 
provided about its device.
    For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full GM's 
petition for exemption for the Chevrolet Volt vehicle line from the 
parts-marking requirements of 49 CFR part 541 beginning with the 2018 
model year. 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 GM decides not to use the exemption for this line, it should 
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).
    NHTSA notes that if GM 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.

    Issued in Washington, DC, under authority delegated in 49 CFR 
1.95.
Raymond R. Posten,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2017-00977 Filed 1-17-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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