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Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Falken

Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
22 September 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 183 (Friday, September 22, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44488-44490]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-20248]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2017-0071; Notice 1]


Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd., Receipt of Petition for 
Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

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SUMMARY: Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. (SRI), on behalf of itself 
and its subsidiary Sumitomo Rubber North America, Inc. (SRNA), have 
determined that certain Falken truck tires do not fully comply with 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 119, New Pneumatic 
Tires for Motor Vehicles with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kilograms 
(10,000 pounds) and Motorcycles. SRI filed a noncompliance report dated 
June 20, 2017. SRI also petitioned NHTSA on July 10, 2017, for a 
decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it 
relates to motor vehicle safety.

DATES: The closing date for comments on the petition is October 23, 
2017.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written data, 
views, and arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the 
docket and notice number cited in the title of this notice and 
submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: Deliver comments by hand to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. The 
Docket Section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 
Federal Holidays.
     Electronically: Submit comments electronically by logging 
onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Comments may also be faxed to (202) 493-2251.
    Comments must be written in the English language, and be no greater 
than 15 pages in length, although there is no limit to the length of 
necessary attachments to the comments. If comments are submitted in 
hard copy form, please ensure that two copies are provided. If you wish 
to receive confirmation that comments you have submitted by mail were 
received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the 
comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change 
to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.
    All comments and supporting materials received before the close of 
business on the closing date indicated above will be filed in the 
docket and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials 
received after the closing date will also be filed and will be 
considered to the fullest extent possible.
    When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will 
also be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority 
indicated at the end of this notice.
    All comments, background documentation, and supporting materials 
submitted to the docket may be viewed by anyone at the address and 
times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the Internet at 
https://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for 
accessing the dockets. The docket ID number for this petition is shown 
in the heading of this notice.
    DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available for review in a 
Federal Register notice published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. Overview: Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. (SRI), on behalf of 
itself and its subsidiary Sumitomo Rubber North America, Inc. (SRNA), 
have determined that certain Falken truck tires do not fully comply 
with paragraph S6.5(f) of FMVSS No. 119, New Pneumatic Tires for Motor 
Vehicles with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) and 
Motorcycles. SRI filed a noncompliance report dated June 20, 2017, 
pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility 
and Reports. SRI also petitioned NHTSA on July 10, 2017, pursuant to 49 
U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, for an exemption from 
the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on 
the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to 
motor vehicle safety.
    This notice of receipt of SRI and SRNA's petition is published 
under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120 and does not represent any agency 
decision or other exercise of judgment concerning the merits of the 
petition.

[[Page 44489]]

    II. Tires Involved: Approximately 5,408 Falken truck tires (Model 
RI151), size 225/70R19.5, manufactured between October 17, 2016, and 
April 28, 2017, are potentially involved.
    III. Noncompliance: SRI explains that the noncompliance is that the 
number of plies indicated on the sidewall of the subject tires do not 
match the actual number of plies in the tire construction, and 
therefore, do not meet all applicable requirements specified in 
paragraph S6.5(f) of FMVSS No. 119. Specifically, the tires are marked 
with ``TREAD 5 PLIES STEEL'' whereas the correct marking should be 
``TREAD 4 PLIES STEEL.''
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S6.5 of FMVSS No. 119 states, in pertinent 
part:

    S6.5 Tire Markings. Except as specified in this paragraph, each 
tire shall be marked on each sidewall with the information specified 
in paragraphs (a) through (j) of this section . . .
* * * * *
    (f) The actual number of plies and the composition of the ply 
cord material in the sidewall and, if different, in the tread area.

    V. Summary of SRI's Petition: As background, On June 12, 2017, SRI 
discovered that a population of 5,408 Falken brand truck tires, Model 
RI151, size 225/70Rl9.5 128/126L, manufactured from October 17, 2016 
through April 28, 2017 at the company's plant in Miyazaki, Japan, were 
marked with the incorrect number of plies. On July 13, 2017, SRNA was 
informed of the marking error, shipments of the subject tires were 
halted, and the company determined that the subject tires failed to 
comply with the tire labeling requirements of Federal motor vehicle 
safety standard (FMVSS) No. 119, S6.5. Specifically, the subject tires 
were incorrectly marked ``TREAD 5 PLIES STEEL,'' although they should 
have been marked ``TREAD 4 PLIES STEEL.'' Accordingly, these tires do 
not conform to the marking requirements of FMVSS No. 119, S6.5. The 
subject tires comply with the performance requirements and other 
marking requirements of FMVSS No. 119.
    SRI submitted a Part 573 noncompliance report on June 20, 2017. 
NHTSA Recall No. l7T-012. SRI corrected the production molds. SRI began 
manufacturing correct versions of these tires on June 17, 2017.
    SRI described the subject noncompliance and stated its belief that 
the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle 
safety.
    In support of its petition, SRI submitted the following reasoning:
    Under the Safety Act, each Federal motor vehicle safety standard 
promulgated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(NHTSA) must be ``practicable, meet the need for motor vehicle safety, 
and be stated in objective terms.'' 49 U.S.C. 3011l(a). The Safety Act 
defines ``motor vehicle safety'' as:

the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a 
way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents 
occurring because of the design, construction or performance of a 
motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risk of death or injury in 
an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.

    49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(8) (emphasis added).
    The Safety Act exempts manufacturers from the Safety Act's notice 
and remedy requirements when the Secretary of Transportation determines 
that a defect or noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to 
motor vehicle safety. See 49 U.S.C. 30118(d). Section 30118(d) 
demonstrates Congress's acknowledgment that there are cases where a 
manufacturer has failed to comply with a safety standard, yet the 
impact on motor vehicle safety is so slight that an exemption from the 
notice and remedy requirements of the Safety Act is justified. NHTSA 
has stated that the relevant consideration in evaluating an 
inconsequentiality petition is ``whether an occupant who is affected by 
the noncompliance is likely to be exposed to a significantly greater 
risk than an occupant in a compliant vehicle.'' 69 FR 19897, 19900 
(April 14, 2004) (emphasis added).
    In the context of tires specifically, the agency has similarly 
stated that it ``believes that one measure of inconsequentiality to 
motor vehicle safety is that there is no effect of the noncompliance on 
the operational safety of vehicles on which the tires are mounted. 
Another measure of inconsequentiality . . . is the safety of people 
working in the tire retread, repair and recycling industries.'' See 72 
FR 18210 (April 17, 2017) (granting petition for determination of 
inconsequential noncompliance with respect to Goodyear tires marked 
with the incorrect number of plies).
    We believe the labeling noncompliance at issue here is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. The subject Falken tires were 
manufactured as designed and meet or exceed all applicable FMVSS No. 
119 performance standards. Furthermore, all of the sidewall markings 
related to tire service (load capacity, corresponding inflation 
pressure, etc.) are correct and the tires correctly show that they 
contain steel plies. SRI does not believe the mislabeling of these 
tires presents a safety concern for consumers or retreading and 
recycling personnel. As noted above, the affected tire mold has been 
corrected and tires produced on and after June 17, 2017, are marked 
with the correct number of plies.
    NHTSA has previously granted petitions involving similar 
noncompliances. In the most recent of these, the agency explained:

    Although tire construction affects the strength and durability 
of tires, neither the agency nor the tire industry provides 
information relating tire strength and durability to the number of 
plies and types of ply cord material in the tread sidewall. 
Therefore, tire dealers and customers should consider the tire 
construction information along with other information such as the 
load capacity, maximum inflation pressure, and tread wear, 
temperature, and traction ratings, to assess performance 
capabilities of various tires. In the agency's judgement, the 
incorrect labeling of the tire construction information will have an 
inconsequential effect on motor vehicle safety because most 
consumers do not base tire purchases or vehicle operation parameters 
on the number of plies in a tire.

    See 72 FR 18210 (April 17,2017).
    Regarding potential safety risks to the tire service industry, the 
agency concluded that a misstatement of the number of plies ``will have 
no measurable effect on the safety of the tire retread, repair, and 
recycling industries. The use of steel cord construction in the 
sidewall and tread is the primary safety concern of these industries. 
In this case, because the sidewall markings indicate that some steel 
plies exist in the tire sidewall, this potential safety concern does 
not exist.'' Id. As noted above, the markings on the subject tires 
correctly indicate that they contain steel plies (although the number 
is misstated as 5 instead of 4).
    NHTSA also granted similar petitions involving tires manufactured 
by Cooper Tire and Goodyear (Dunlop). See 74 FR 10804 (March 12, 2009) 
(granting petition submitted by Goodyear where tires were labeled 
``Tread 3 Polyester + 2 Steel,'' whereas the correct marking should 
have been ``Tread 2 Polyester + 2 Steel + 2 Polyester''); and 82 FR 
17075 (April 7, 2017) (granting petition submitted by Cooper Tire & 
Rubber Company where tires were marked ``TREAD 1 PLY NYLON + 2 PLY 
STEEL + 2 PLY POLYESTER,'' whereas the correct marking should have been 
``TREAD 1 PLY NYLON + 2 PLY STEEL + 1 PLY POLYESTER.''
    SRI is not aware of any warranty claims, field reports, customer 
complaints, legal claims, or any incidents or injuries related to the 
subject condition.

[[Page 44490]]

    SRI concluded by expressing the belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, 
and that its petition to be exempted from providing notification of the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and a remedy for the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, should be granted.
    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, any decision on 
this petition only applies to the subject tires that SRI no longer 
controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. 
However, any decision on this petition does not relieve equipment 
distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer for 
sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate 
commerce of the noncompliant tires under their control after SRI 
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)

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2017-20248 Filed 9-21-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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