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General Motors LLC, Receipt of Second Petition for Inconsequentiality and Notice of Consolidation

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Takata, General Motors

General Motors LLC, Receipt of Second Petition for Inconsequentiality and Notice of Consolidation

Stephen P. Wood
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
11 September 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 174 (Monday, September 11, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 42718-42720]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-19139]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0124; Notice 2]


General Motors LLC, Receipt of Second Petition for 
Inconsequentiality and Notice of Consolidation

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of petition.

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SUMMARY: On January 3, 2017, TK Holdings Inc. (Takata) filed a defect 
information report (DIR), in which it determined that a defect existed 
in certain passenger-side air bag inflators that it manufactured, 
including passenger inflators that it supplied to General Motors, LLC 
(GM) for use in certain GMT900 vehicles. GM has petitioned the Agency 
for a decision that, because of differences in inflator design and 
vehicle integration, the equipment defect determined to exist by Takata 
is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety in the GMT900 
vehicles, and that GM should therefore be relieved of its notification 
and remedy obligations.

DATES: The closing date for comments is September 14, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written data, 
views, and arguments regarding this petition for inconsequentiality. 
Comments must refer to the docket and notice number cited in the title 
of this notice and be submitted by one of the following methods:
     Internet: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the 
online instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Room W12-
140, Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building, Room W12-
140, Washington, DC 20590 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Facsimile: (202) 493-2251.
    You may call the Docket at (202) 366-9324.
    Note that all comments received will be posted without change to 
http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided. Thus, submitting such information makes it public. You may 
wish to read the Privacy Act notice, which can be viewed by clicking on 
the ``Privacy and Security Notice'' link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov. DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available 
for review in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 
19477-78).
    The petition, supporting materials, and all comments received 
before the close of business on the closing date indicated above will 
be filed in the docket and will be considered. Comments and supporting 
materials received after the closing date will also be filed and will 
be considered to the 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
    For legal issues: Stephen Hench, Office of the Chief Counsel, NCC-
100, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: (202) 366-5263).
    For general information regarding NHTSA's investigation into Takata 
air bag inflator ruptures and the related recalls: http://www.safercar.gov/rs/takata/index.html.

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    On May 4, 2016, NHTSA issued, and Takata agreed to, an Amendment to 
the November 3, 2015 Consent Order (the ``Amendment''), under which 
Takata is bound to declare a defect in all frontal driver and passenger 
air bag inflators that contain a phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate 
(PSAN)-based propellant and do not contain a moisture-absorbing 
desiccant. Such defect declarations will be made on a rolling basis, 
with the first declaration due on May 16, 2016 and the second 
declaration due on December 31, 2016. See Amendment at ] 14.

[[Page 42719]]

GM's May 27, 2016 DIRs

    Takata timely submitted the first scheduled equipment DIRs on May 
16, 2016. See Recall Nos. 16E-042, 16E-043, and 16E-044. Those DIRs 
included non-desiccated passenger inflators, designated as types SPI YP 
and PSPI-L YD, that were installed as original equipment on certain 
motor vehicles manufactured by GM (the ``covered passenger 
inflators''), as well as other non-desiccated passenger inflators 
installed as original equipment on motor vehicles manufactured by a 
number of other automakers, which are not at issue here.
    The Takata filing triggered GM's obligation to file a DIR for the 
affected GM vehicles. See 49 CFR part 573; Amendment at ] 16; November 
3, 2015 Coordinated Remedy Order at ] 46. GM ultimately submitted two 
DIRs on May 27, 2016. See Recall Nos. 16V-381 (for vehicles in Zone A) 
and 16V-383 (for vehicles in Zone B).
    On November 15, 2016, GM petitioned the Agency, under 49 U.S.C. 
30118(d), 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, for a decision that the 
equipment defect determined to exist by Takata is inconsequential as it 
relates to motor vehicle safety in the GMT900 vehicles. See GM's 
Petition for Inconsequentiality and Request for Deferral of 
Determination Regarding Certain GMT900 Vehicles Equipped with Takata 
``SPI YP'' and ``PSPI-L YD'' Passenger Inflators (the ``First Petition 
for Inconsequentiality'' or ``First Petition''). GM's First Petition 
concluded that because the putative defect is inconsequential to safety 
in the GMT900 vehicles, the company should be relieved of notification 
and remedy obligations for Takata inflators in those GM vehicles. See 
First Petition at p. 18. GM further requested that NHTSA defer its 
decision on the petition until GM is able to complete its testing and 
engineering analysis in August 2017. See id.
    In a Notice published in the Federal Register on November 28, 2016, 
the Agency published notice of the First Petition and granted two 
administrative requests. See 81 FR 85681. First, as a matter of its 
enforcement discretion, NHTSA accepted the First Petition even though 
it was filed outside the regulatory 30-day filing deadline. Second, 
NHTSA found that GM had produced probative evidence to support its 
inconsequentiality claim that--while not yet sufficient--tended to 
support GM's Petition, at least with respect to the short-term safety 
of the covered passenger inflators. Therefore, NHTSA elected to grant 
GM until August 31, 2017 to develop and present further evidence, data, 
and information, and defer the Agency's decision on the First Petition 
for Inconsequentiality, unless additional evidence warrants an earlier 
decision. NHTSA further required that GM submit monthly testing 
updates, which would be made publicly available. Since then, GM has 
submitted updates for December 2016 and January through August 2017, 
which have been posted to the public docket. See Docket No. NHTSA-2016-
0124.

GM's January 10, 2017 DIRs

    Takata timely submitted the second scheduled equipment DIRs on 
January 3, 2017. See Recall Nos. 17E-001, 17E-002, and 17E-003. Those 
DIRs included additional covered passenger inflators. Again, the Takata 
filing triggered GM's obligation to file a DIR for the affected GM 
vehicles. See 49 CFR part 573; Amendment at ] 16; Third Amendment to 
Coordinated Remedy Order at ] 32. GM ultimately submitted its DIRs on 
January 10, 2017. See Recall Nos. 17V-010, 17V-019, and 17V-021.\1\ 
Therein, in accordance with 49 CFR 573.6(c)(8)(iii), GM notified NHTSA 
of its intention to file a petition for an exemption from its recall 
requirements (i.e., a petition for inconsequentiality). Contemporaneous 
with its DIRs, GM submitted to the Agency a Petition for 
Inconsequentiality and Request for Deferral of Determination Regarding 
Certain GMT900 Vehicles Equipped with Takata ``SPI YP'' and ``PSPI-L 
YD'' Passenger Inflators Subject to January 2017 Takata Equipment DIR 
Filings (the ``Second Petition for Inconsequentiality'' or ``Second 
Petition'').\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ When a manufacturer files a petition for inconsequentiality, 
the affected DIR will not be made public unless and until the Agency 
denies the petition.
    \2\ GM's Second Petition has been publicly available on NHTSA's 
Web site since January. https://www.nhtsa.gov/recall-spotlight/takata-air-bags.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

II. Class of Motor Vehicles Involved

    GM's Second Petition involves certain ``GMT900'' vehicles that 
contain the covered passenger inflators (designated as inflator types 
``SPI YP'' and ``PSPI-L YD''). GMT900 is a GM-specific vehicle platform 
that forms the structural foundation for a variety of GM trucks and 
sport utility vehicles, including: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 
1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500, GMC Sierra 2500/3500, Chevrolet 
Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon 
XL, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Cadillac Escalade 
EXT. The Second Petition involves the following GMT900 vehicles:
     In Zone A, model year 2012 GMT900 vehicles. Zone A 
comprises the following states and U.S. territories: Alabama, 
California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South 
Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern 
Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands. See Amendment at 
] 7.a.
     In Zone B, certain model year 2009 GMT900 vehicles. Zone B 
comprises the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, District 
of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, 
Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, 
Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. See 
Amendment at ] 7.b.
     In Zone C, certain model year 2007-2008 GMT900 vehicles. 
Zone C comprises the following states: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, 
Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New 
Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, 
Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. See Amendment at ] 
7.c.

III. Summary of GM's Second Petition for Inconsequentiality

    GM's Second Petition raises the same issues and arguments as its 
First Petition. See Second Petition at p. 4. According to the Second 
Petition, GM's engineering analysis supports the conclusion that the 
covered passenger inflators in the subject GMT900 vehicles are 
currently performing as designed, and will likely continue to perform 
as designed for a number of years--i.e., that the covered passenger 
inflators, as integrated into the GMT900 vehicles, do not present an 
unreasonable risk to safety. See Second Petition at p. 10.
    According to the Petition, GM's position is based upon the 
following: an estimated 55,000 Takata passenger inflator deployments in 
GMT900 vehicles without a rupture; ballistic tests of 1,624 covered 
passenger inflators without a rupture or sign of abnormal deployment; 
test deployment of 12 inflators artificially exposed to additional 
humidity and temperature cycling without a rupture or sign of abnormal 
deployment; and analysis, through stress-strength interference, 
indicating that the propellant in older covered passenger inflators has 
not degraded to a sufficient extent to create rupture risk. See Second 
Petition at pp. 13-16.
    GM further states that the covered passenger inflators are not used 
by any

[[Page 42720]]

other original equipment manufacturer and that those inflators have a 
number of unique design features that influence burn rates and internal 
ballistic dynamics, including greater vent-area-to-propellant-mass 
ratios, steel end caps, and thinner propellant wafers. See Second 
Petition at p. 11-12. In addition, GM states that the physical 
environment of the GMT900 vehicles better protects the covered 
passenger inflators from temperature cycling that can cause rupture. 
Id.
    Finally, to supplement its internal analysis, GM has retained a 
third-party expert, Orbital ATK, to conduct a long-term aging study 
that will estimate the service life expectancy of the covered passenger 
inflators in the GMT900 vehicles. See Second Petition at pp. 17-18. GM 
anticipates that this study will be complete in August 2017. Id.

IV. Consolidation

    GM's Second Petition for Inconsequentiality is virtually identical 
to the Petition for Inconsequentiality submitted on November 15, 2016. 
First, both petitions involve the same covered passenger inflators 
(i.e., frontal passenger inflator types ``SPI YP'' and ``PSPI-L YD''). 
Second, both petitions involve the same vehicle platform (i.e., the 
GMT900). Third, both petitions rely upon the same purported evidence to 
support the safety of the inflators (i.e., estimated field deployments, 
ballistic testing, and stress-strength interference analysis). Fourth, 
both petitions will rely upon the same forthcoming report by Orbital 
ATK. According, it is appropriate to evaluate and dispose of the two 
petitions simultaneously. In the interest of clarity, consistency, and 
efficiency, the Agency is consolidating the Second Petition with the 
First Petition under Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0124.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30101, et seq., 30118, 30120(h), 30162, 
30166(b)(1), 30166(g)(1); delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.95(a); 
49 CFR parts 556, 573, 577.

    Issued: August 31, 2017.
Stephen P. Wood,
Acting Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2017-19139 Filed 9-8-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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