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Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Topics:  Toyota Highlander

Toyota Motor North America, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey Mark Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
3 December 2019


[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 232 (Tuesday, December 3, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 66276-66278]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-26086]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2019-0071; Notice 1]


Toyota Motor North America, Inc., 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: Toyota Motor North America, Inc., (Toyota) has determined that 
certain model year (MY) 2013-2019 Toyota RAV4 and MY 2014-2019 Toyota 
Highlander motor vehicles do not fully comply with Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, Flammability of Interior 
Materials. Toyota filed a noncompliance report dated June 19, 2019. 
Toyota subsequently petitioned NHTSA on July 12, 2019, and later 
amended that petition on August 13, 2019, for a decision that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle 
safety. This notice announces receipt of Toyota's petition.

DATES: Send comments on or before January 2, 2020.

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 may be 
submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to the 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 the 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 for Federal Holidays.
     Electronically: Submit comments electronically by logging 
onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) website 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

[[Page 66277]]

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: Toyota has determined that certain MY 2013-2019 Toyota 
RAV4 and certain Toyota Highlander motor vehicles do not fully comply 
with paragraph S4 of FMVSS No. 302, Flammability of Interior Materials 
(49 CFR 571.302). Toyota filed a noncompliance report dated June 19, 
2019, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance 
Responsibility and Reports. Toyota subsequently petitioned NHTSA on 
July 12, 2019, and later amended its petition on August 13, 2019, for 
an exemption from the notification and remedy requirement of 49 U.S.C. 
Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential as 
it relates to motor vehicle safety, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, Exemption for Inconsequential Defect or 
Noncompliance.
    This notice of receipt of Toyota'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.
    II. Vehicles Involved: Approximately 2,144,217 MY 2013-2019 Toyota 
RAV4 and MY 2014-2019 Toyota Highlander/Highlander HV motor vehicles, 
manufactured between December 21, 2012 and March 28, 2019, are 
potentially involved.
    III. Noncompliance: Toyota explains that the noncompliance is that 
the subject vehicles are equipped with floor mats that contain hook and 
loop fasteners that do not meet the flammability requirements set forth 
in paragraphs S4.1 through S4.3(b) of FMVSS No. 302. Specifically, the 
loop side of the fastener that attaches the floor mat to the underlying 
padding is made from a material that is noncompliant.
    IV. Rule Requirements: Paragraphs S4.1 through S4.3(b) of FMVSS No. 
302 includes the requirements relevant to this petition. The portions 
described in paragraph S4.2 of the following components of vehicle 
occupant compartments shall meet the requirements of paragraph S4.3, 
seat cushions, seatbacks, seat belts, headlining, convertible tops, 
armrests, all trim panels including door, front, rear, and side panels, 
compartment shelves, head restraints, floor coverings, sun visors, 
curtains, shades, wheel housing covers, engine compartment covers, 
mattress covers, and any other interior materials, including padding 
and crash-deployed elements, that are designed to absorb energy on 
contact by occupants in the event of a crash. Any material that does 
not adhere to other material(s) at every point of contact shall meet 
the requirements of paragraph S4.3(a) when tested in accordance with 
paragraph S5, material described in paragraphs S4.1 and S4.2 shall not 
burn, nor transmit a flame front across its surface, at a rate of more 
than 102 mm per minute. The requirement concerning transmission of a 
flame front shall not apply to a surface created by cutting a test 
specimen for purposes of testing pursuant to paragraph S5. If a 
material stops burning before it has burned for 60 seconds from the 
start of timing, and has not burned more than 51 mm from the point 
where the timing was started, it shall be considered to meet the burn-
rate requirement of paragraph S4.3(a).
    V. Summary of Toyota's Petition:
    The following views and arguments presented in this section, V. 
Summary of Toyota's Petition, are the views and arguments provided by 
Toyota. They have not been evaluated by the Agency and do not reflect 
the views of the Agency.
    Toyota described the subject noncompliance and stated its belief 
that the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor 
vehicle safety.
    Toyota submitted the following views and arguments in support of 
the petition:
    1. When tested as a ``composite,'' FMVSS No. 302 criteria are met:
    Toyota conducted FMVSS No. 302 burn testing of the loop fastener 
when assembled to the carpet as a ``composite.'' Toyota chose 
configurations to evaluate that were the most conservative in 
determining the material burn rate performance.
    Toyota conducted burn rate testing using composite samples that 
were cut from mass production parts. Although the loop fasteners are 
not installed directly at the edge of the carpet, in order to test at 
the worst-case position for burn rate, Toyota tested with the fasteners 
aligned at the edge of the carpet.
    As evidenced by the test data, the loop material complies with 
FMVSS No. 302 when tested as a ``composite'' as installed in the 
vehicle.
    2. The loop fastener is not exposed directly to the occupant 
compartment air space:
    As noted previously, the purpose of FMVSS No. 302 is to ``reduce 
the deaths and injuries to motor vehicle occupants caused by vehicle 
fires, especially those originating in the interior of the vehicle from 
sources such as matches or cigarettes.'' The noncomplying loop fastener 
material would normally not be exposed to open flame or an ignition 
source (like matches or cigarettes) in its installed application, 
because it is installed beneath and completely covered by the carpet 
material which complies with FMVSS No. 302.
    The loop fastener is layered between other FMVSS No. 302 compliant 
materials. The fastener is attached to the underside of the carpet for 
the purpose of attaching it to the underlying padding. No portion of 
the loop fastener material is visible or directly exposed to the 
occupant compartment as installed in the vehicle. As constructed, it 
would be highly unlikely that the loop fastener material would ever be 
exposed to ignition sources such as matches or cigarettes, identified 
in paragraph S2 of FMVSS No. 302 as a stated purpose of the standard. 
Because the loop fastener material is covered and layered between FMVSS 
No. 302-compliant materials, it would be extremely unlikely that a 
vehicle occupant would ever be exposed to a risk of injury as a result 
of the noncompliance.
    Given the stated purpose of FMVSS No. 302, Toyota believes that the

[[Page 66278]]

noncompliant loop fastener material, as installed in the vehicle, does 
not present a safety risk, and the chance of fire or flame propagation 
is essentially zero.
    3. The loop fastener is a very small portion of the carpet 
assembly:
    The loop fastener material is only a very small part of the overall 
mass of the soft material comprising the carpet assembly (i.e., up to a 
maximum of 0.037% depending on the vehicle model), and is significantly 
less in relation to the entire vehicle interior surface area that could 
potentially be exposed to flame. Therefore, it would have an 
insignificant adverse effect on interior material burn rate and the 
potential for occupant injury due to interior fire.
    4. There are no relevant field incidents:
    Toyota conducted a search of consumer complaints, field reports, 
dealer reports, Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQs), and legal claims 
for the subject vehicles and found no reports relating to ignition of 
the loop fastener. As of July 10, 2019, Toyota is not aware of any 
fires, crashes, or injuries in connection with this component in the 
subject vehicles.
    5. In similar situations, NHTSA has granted petitions for 
inconsequential noncompliance relating to the subject requirement of 
FMVSS No. 302:
    Toyota stated NHTSA has previously granted at least ten FMVSS No. 
302 petitions for inconsequential noncompliance, one of which was for a 
vehicle's console armrest, one of which was for large truck sleeper 
bedding, one of which was for seating material, and six of which were 
for issues related to child restraints. A citation to each is provided 
below:
     Paccar (57 FR 45868, October 5, 1992) (Noncompliant tape 
edging surrounding otherwise compliant bedding materials in a large 
truck sleeper bed was deemed by the agency to be inconsequential).
     Fisher-Price (60 FR 41152, August 11, 1995) (Noncompliant 
fabric used in CRS shoulder straps was deemed to be inconsequential by 
the agency).
     Century (60 FR 41148, August 11, 1995) (Noncompliant seat 
covers were determined unlikely to pose a flammability risk when 
securely sewn to the seat).
     Cosco (60 FR 41150, August 11, 1995) (Noncompliant fabric 
used in CRS shoulder straps was deemed to be inconsequential).
     Kolcraft (63 FR 24585, May 4, 1998) (One or more of the 
fitting, face, or backing materials of CRS seat covers were 
noncompliant).
     Cosco (63 FR 30809, June 5, 1998) (Noncomplying fiberfill 
incorporated into a pillow located in a child restraint was 
inconsequential to safety due to the unlikelihood of exposure to an 
ignition source).
     Ford (63 FR 40780, July 30, 1998) (A noncompliant center 
console armrest ``plus pad'' was determined by the Agency to be 
inconsequential to safety in that, because of its location under an 
exterior cover).
     Graco (77 FR 14055, March 8, 2012) (Certain noncompliant 
warning labels attached to the outside of detachable accessory pillows 
were deemed inconsequential by the Agency due to the relatively small 
size of the label).
     Toyota (80 FR 4035, January 26, 2015) (Certain 
noncompliant front and rear seat back and seat cushion seat heaters 
were determined by the Agency to be inconsequential to safety in that 
the seat heaters were unlikely to pose a flammability risk).
     Toyota (83 FR 16433, April 16, 2018) (Certain noncompliant 
needle punch felt material used in the front and rear seat covers and 
rear center armrest assemblies were determined by the Agency to be 
inconsequential to safety).
    In support of Toyota's petition, Toyota submitted the following 
supplemental information in support of the petition:
    Toyota stated that on July 31, 2019, Transport Canada (TC) notified 
Toyota Canada, Inc. (TCI) that it had evaluated information supplied by 
TCI in connection with a Notice of Noncompliance submitted to TC 
involving the same facts that gave rise to the part 573 Report that is 
subject of this inconsequentiality petition.
    Transport Canada concluded that ``there is no real or implied 
degradation to motor vehicle safety'' presented by the noncompliance 
with FMVSS No. 302, and indicated that no further notification or 
remedy action is required.''
    Toyota concludes 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 vehicles that Toyota no 
longer controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance 
existed. However, any decision on this petition does not relieve 
vehicle distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer 
for sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate 
commerce of the noncompliant vehicles under their control after Toyota 
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 Mark Giuseppe,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2019-26086 Filed 12-2-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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