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Volkswagen Group of America; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption From FMVSS No. 108

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group of America; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption From FMVSS No. 108

Raymond R. Posten
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
11 September 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 174 (Monday, September 11, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 42720-42722]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-19086]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2017-0018]


Volkswagen Group of America; Receipt of Petition for Temporary 
Exemption From FMVSS No. 108

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

ACTION: Notice of receipt of a petition for a temporary exemption from 
certain headlamp requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 
(FMVSS) No. 108, Lamps, Reflective devices, and Associated Equipment.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with the procedures, Volkswagen Group of America 
(Volkswagen, or Petitioner) has petitioned the agency for a temporary 
exemption from certain headlamp requirements of FMVSS No. 108 to allow 
the use of adaptive driving beam headlights. Volkswagen requests the 
exemption on the basis that it would facilitate the development or 
field evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a 
safety level at least equal to that of the standard. NHTSA has made no 
judgment on the merits of the application. This notice of receipt of an 
application for a temporary exemption is published in accordance with 
statutory and administrative provisions.

DATES: You should submit your comments not later than October 11, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Piazza, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, NCC-112, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2992; 
Fax: (202) 366-3820.

ADDRESSES: We invite you to submit comments on the application 
described above. You may submit comments identified by docket number in 
the heading of this notice by any of the following methods:
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket 
Operations, M-30, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and 
docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without 
change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below. We 
will consider all comments received before the close of business on the 
comment closing date indicated above. To the extent possible, we will 
also consider comments filed after the closing date.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or to 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 
Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal Holidays. Telephone: (202) 366-9826.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit 
http://www.dot.gov/privacy.html.
    Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any 
information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three 
copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim 
to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, 
at the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In 
addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the 
claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the 
address given above. When you send a comment containing information 
claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a 
cover letter setting forth the information specified in our 
confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Statutory Authority for Temporary Exemptions

    The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (``Safety Act''), 
codified at 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, provides the Secretary of 
Transportation authority to exempt, on a temporary basis and under 
specified

[[Page 42721]]

circumstances, motor vehicles from a motor vehicle safety standard or 
bumper standard. This authority is set forth at 49 U.S.C. 30113. The 
Secretary has delegated the authority for implementing this section to 
NHTSA.
    The Safety Act authorizes the Secretary to grant a temporary 
exemption to a vehicle manufacturer under certain conditions. Under the 
conditions relevant to this petition, the Secretary may grant a 
petition on finding that the exemption is consistent with the public 
interest and with the Safety Act, and that the exemption would make 
easier the development or field evaluation of a new motor vehicle 
safety feature providing a safety level at least equal to the safety 
level of the standard.\1\
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    \1\ 49 U.S.C. 30113(3).
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    NHTSA established 49 CFR part 555, Temporary Exemption From Motor 
Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards, to implement the statutory 
provisions concerning temporary exemptions. The requirements specified 
in 49 CFR 555.5 state that the petitioner must set forth the basis of 
the application by providing the information required under Part 555.6, 
and the reasons why the exemption would be in the public interest and 
consistent with the objectives of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301.
    A petition on the basis that the exemption would make easier the 
development or field evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature 
providing a safety level at least equal to the safety level of the 
standard must include the information specified in 49 CFR 555.6(b). The 
main requirements of that section include:
    (1) A description of the safety or impact protection features, and 
research, development, and testing documentation establishing the 
innovational nature of such features;
    (2) An analysis establishing that the level of safety or impact 
protection of the feature is equivalent to or exceeds the level of 
safety or impact protection established in the standard from which 
exemption is sought, including the following: A detailed description of 
how a vehicle equipped with the safety or impact protection feature 
differs from one that complies with the standard; if applicant is 
presently manufacturing a vehicle conforming to the standard, the 
results of tests conducted to substantiate certification to the 
standard; and the results of tests conducted on the safety or impact 
protection features that demonstrates performance which meets or 
exceeds the requirements of the standard;
    (3) Substantiation that a temporary exemption would facilitate the 
development or field evaluation of the vehicle;
    (4) A statement whether, at the end of the exemption period, the 
manufacturer intends to conform to the standard, apply for a further 
exemption, or petition for rulemaking to amend the standard to 
incorporate the safety or impact protection features; and
    (5) A statement that not more than 2,500 exempted vehicles will be 
sold in the United States in any 12-month period for which an exemption 
may be granted pursuant to this paragraph.

II. Overview of Petition

    Volkswagen has submitted a petition asking the agency for a 
temporary exemption from certain headlamp requirements of FMVSS No. 108 
for vehicles equipped with adaptive driving beam (``ADB'') headlamps. 
ADB is defined by SAE International (``SAE'') as a long-range forward 
visibility light beam that adapts to the presence of opposing (i.e., 
approaching from the opposite direction) and preceding vehicles by 
modifying portions of the projected light in order to reduce glare to 
the drivers and riders of those vehicles. Volkswagen wishes to install 
its ``Matrix Beam'' ADB system on Audi A7 models, which may also 
include S7 and Rs7 variants (collectively, ``subject vehicles'').
    In order to do so, Volkswagen requests an exemption from S9.4 and 
S10.14.6 of FMVSS No. 108. S9.4 requires that a vehicle have a means of 
switching between lower and upper beams designed and located so that it 
may be operated conveniently by a simple movement of the driver's hand 
or foot; that the switch have no dead point; and, except as provided by 
S6.1.5.2, that the lower and upper beams must not be energized 
simultaneously except momentarily for temporary signaling purposes or 
during switching between beams. S10.14.6 specifies the photometry 
requirements for integral beam headlighting systems. Volkswagen 
indicates that Matrix Beam may not comply with these requirements.
    The basis for the application is that the exemption would make 
easier the development or field evaluation of a new motor vehicle 
safety feature providing a safety level at least equal to that of the 
standard. Volkswagen explains how the Matrix Beam system operates and 
the safety benefits it believes the system would offer. Volkswagen 
states that the safety benefit is that ADB enhances nighttime 
visibility for the driver while at the same time reducing glare 
(relative to the glare that would be caused by headlamps on upper beam) 
to oncoming and preceding vehicles. In order to establish the 
innovational and safety-improving nature of the Matrix Beam system, 
Volkswagen summarizes, refers to, and submits research, development, 
and testing documentation, including the following: A recent technical 
paper summarizing the safety benefits of ADB systems; Toyota's pending 
petition for rulemaking to amend FMVSS No. 108 to allow ADB (Docket No. 
NHTSA-2013-0004); an excerpt from the United Kingdom version of the 
Audi owner's manual explaining the Matrix Beam system; and an Audi 
Matrix LED headlight training document.
    Volkswagen states that it has received EU Type Approval for its 
system and is currently installing the system on the following EU Audi 
models: A4, A6, A7, A8, TT, and Q7. Volkswagen explains that Audi has 
sold 122,979 vehicles equipped with the Matrix Beam in 55 markets 
outside the United States. Of the 77,014 model year 2016 vehicles, only 
69 warranty cases were found involving a customer complaint related to 
the adjustment or functionality of the Matrix Beam headlamps (a repair 
per 1000-vehicle rate of 0.90 R/1000 (0.09%)). Volkswagen states that 
this shows that the Matrix Beam is very reliable. Volkswagen states 
that the Matrix Beam system complies with a recently-published SAE 
standard for ADB systems, SAE J3069 JUN2016. Volkswagen also provides 
compliance test reports to demonstrate that the non-exempt subject 
vehicles comply with the headlamp-related requirements of FMVSS No. 
108.
    Petitioner states that a temporary exemption would facilitate the 
development and field evaluation of the Matrix Beam system. Volkswagen 
explains that it intends to collect feedback from customers who 
purchase the exempt vehicles and to obtain data multiple times 
throughout the duration of the exemption. Each time the customer brings 
their vehicle to the dealer for service or routine maintenance, the 
customer will be given a survey. The survey will inquire about the 
customer's typical driving characteristics, satisfaction with the 
Matrix Beam, overall Matrix Beam performance, and views on the safety 
of the Matrix Beam. Volkswagen believes that this will enable it to 
both achieve a relatively high response rate as well as monitor changes 
in customer responses based on length of time of ownership and mileage. 
Volkswagen requests that it be permitted to import and sell 2,500 
exempted vehicles during each of the

[[Page 42722]]

12-month periods covered by the exemption. Petitioner states that on or 
before the end of the exemption period, it hopes that the pending 
Toyota petition for rulemaking will be granted, and that FMVSS No. 108 
will be amended to allow ADB. If by the end of the exemption period, 
FMVSS No. 108 has not been so amended, then Volkswagen intends either 
to cease offering the system in the United States or request an 
extension.

III. Completeness and Comment Period

    Upon receiving a petition, NHTSA conducts an initial review of the 
petition with respect to whether the petition is complete and whether 
the petitioner appears to be eligible to apply for the requested 
exemption. The agency has tentatively concluded that the petition from 
Volkswagen is complete and that Volkswagen is eligible to apply for a 
temporary exemption. The agency has not made any judgment on the merits 
of the application, and is placing a copy of the petition and other 
related materials in the docket.
    The agency seeks comment from the public on the merits of 
Volkswagen's application for a temporary exemption from S9.4 and 
S10.14.6 of FMVSS No. 108. We are providing a 30-day comment period. 
After considering public comments and other available information, we 
will publish a notice of final action on the application in the Federal 
Register.

    Issued on September 5, 2017.
Raymond R. Posten,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2017-19086 Filed 9-8-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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