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General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Chevrolet Malibu

General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Claude H. Harris
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
October 21, 2010

[Federal Register: October 21, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 203)]
[Notices]               
[Page 65054-65056]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr21oc10-98]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0137; Notice 1]

 
General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

    General Motors, LLC (GM),\1\ has determined that certain 2008 
through 2010 Model Year Chevrolet Malibu passenger cars equipped with 
automatic transmissions and manufactured between May 2007 through March 
2010 do not fully meet the requirements of paragraph S3.1.4.1 of 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 102, Transmission 
Shift Position Sequence, Starter Interlock, and Transmission Braking 
Effect. GM filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR part 573 
Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports, dated March 30, 
2010.
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    \1\ General Motors, LLC (GM) is a Michigan corporation that 
manufactures motor vehicles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) (see implementing rule 
at 49 CFR part 556), GM has petitioned for an exemption from the 
notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the 
basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle 
safety.
    This notice of receipt of GM'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.
    A total of 462,227 \2\ model year 2008, 2009 and 2010 Chevrolet 
Malibu passenger cars manufactured during the period May 2007 through 
March 2010 are potentially affected by the subject noncompliance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ GM's petition, which was filed under 49 CFR part 556, 
requests an agency decision to exempt GM from the notification and 
recall responsibilities of 49 CFR part 573 for as many as 462,227 of 
the affected vehicles. However, the agency cannot relieve GM's 
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 GM 
recognized that the subject noncompliance existed. Those vehicles 
must be brought into conformance, exported, or destroyed.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Paragraph S3.1.4.1 of FMVSS No. 102 requires:

    Except as specified in S3.1.4.3, if the transmission shift 
position sequence includes a park position, identification of shift 
positions, including the positions in relation to each other and the 
position selected, shall be displayed in view of the driver whenever 
any of the following conditions exist:
    (a) The ignition is in a position where the transmission can be 
shifted; or

[[Page 65055]]

    (b) The transmission is not in park.

    GM described the noncompliance as the absence of the required 
transmission shift position display for a certain ignition key cylinder 
position. GM explained that while the key is in the ignition there is a 
narrow ignition key cylinder position between the ``ACC'' and ``OFF'' 
positions within which the transmission shift lever can be moved and 
the indicator light that illuminates the transmission shift position 
display is inoperative. The Company added that this noncompliance only 
occurs when the engine is not running.
    GM additionally stated that in all other ignition activation and 
operation positions, all of the subject vehicles comply with paragraph 
S3.1.4.1 of FMVSS No. 102.
    GM argued its belief that the subject noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety because:

    As NHTSA recognized in proposing the standard (49 FR 32409-32411 
(August 25, 1988)), the purpose of the display requirement for PRNDM 
information is to ``provide the driver with transmission position 
information for the vehicle conditions where such information can 
reduce the likelihood of shifting errors.'' Thus, in all but the 
rarest circumstances, the primary function of the PRNDM display is 
to inform the driver of gear selection and relative position of the 
gears while the engine is running. All of the subject vehicles 
display PRNDM information whenever the ignition switch is in the 
``On'' or ``Run'' position.
    With the exception of the absence of the required transmission 
shift position display for one narrow ignition key cylinder 
position, the system meets all other applicable requirements of 
FMVSS No. 102.
    GM has no record of any incidents, injuries, owner complaints or 
field reports related to this noncompliance. GM added that if a 
customer reports this problem to them and requests a remedy, the 
Company will replace the ignition switch with a conforming 
component.
    Since this noncompliance only occurs during an atypical 
operation, the noncompliance is not likely to occur under normal 
driving conditions. The only circumstance where the noncompliance 
would appear is if the ignition switch is in the intermediary 
position between the ``OFF'' and ``ACC'' detent positions prior to 
the interlock. In order for this condition to be present, a driver 
would have to first move the transmission control to ``PARK.'' In 
such a case, there are two possible scenarios for the driver: 1) 
leaving the vehicle with the key in the ignition or 2) remaining in 
the vehicle. GM provides the following analysis for both scenarios:
    1. The driver exits the vehicle while leaving the key in the 
ignition:
    If the driver attempted to remove the key before exiting the 
vehicle, the key would not be capable of removal. The doors may also 
still be locked if they are in the factory default setting to unlock 
in the ``PARK'' position.
    As required by S5.1.3 of FMVSS 114, GM provides an audible 
warning to the driver that activates whenever the key has been left 
in the ignition locking system and the driver's door is opened.
    The Owner's Manual supplied with the vehicle provides specific 
warnings and instructions on ensuring the vehicle is in ``PARK'' and 
the key is removed before exiting the vehicle.
    2. The driver remains in the vehicle:
    If the driver remains in the vehicle, he or she would likely 
either restart the vehicle's engine or attempt to remove the key to 
exit the vehicle.
    If the driver attempts to restart the engine, paragraph S3.1.3 
of FMVSS No. 102 requires that the starter be inoperative whenever 
the vehicle's transmission shift position is in a forward or reverse 
drive position. The driver rotating the ignition switch forward 
attempting to start the engine will definitely activate the PRNDM 
display. Therefore, the PRNDM information will be available to the 
driver who can see that the vehicle did not start because the 
transmission was not in ``Park'' or ``Neutral''.
    GM says that because both of these situations are addressed by 
FMVSS requirements, a lack of a transmission shift position display 
in either of these cases may constitute a minor inconvenience, but 
will have no consequence to safety. In addition, GM stated that 
NHTSA has previously granted similar petitions on 3 occasions.

    Furthermore, GM also stated the following:

    GM recognizes that there may be isolated non-driving situations 
in which a person may desire to know gear selection or the relative 
position of the gears with the engine off, such as when placing the 
vehicle in tow. However, these cases occur infrequently and do not 
occur during normal ignition activation and vehicle operation. If 
the subject condition [noncompliance] is present during these 
infrequent non-driving situations when PRNDM information may be 
desired, gear selection and relative positioning can easily be 
determined by rotating the ignition switch slightly clockwise past 
the accessory ``ACC'' detent to activate the shift indicator display 
without starting the vehicle's engine. Given the nature of these 
non-driving situations and since the information can be readily 
obtained with a slight key rotation, GM believes that the subject 
condition [noncompliance] will have no real or implied degradation 
of motor vehicle safety.

    GM stated that previous rulemakings and NHTSA decisions on several 
previous inconsequential noncompliance petitions further support its 
position that the subject noncompliances are inconsequential to motor 
vehicle safety.
    GM also indicated that it has corrected the problem that caused the 
subject noncompliance so that it cannot reoccur in future production.
    In view of the above, GM believes that the described noncompliance 
is inconsequential and does not present a risk to motor vehicle safety. 
Thus, GM requests that its petition, to exempt it from providing recall 
notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 
remedying the recall 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.
    Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and 
arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the docket and 
notice number cited at the beginning of this notice and be submitted by 
any of the following methods:
    a. 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.
    b. By hand delivery 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.
    c. Electronically: by logging onto the Federal Docket Management 
System (FDMS) Web site at http:[sol][sol]www.regulations.gov/. Follow 
the online instructions for submitting comments. Comments may also be 
faxed to 1-202-493-2251.
    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 your comments were received, please 
enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the comments. Note that 
all comments received will be posted without change to 
http:[sol][sol]www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.
    Documents submitted to a docket may be viewed by anyone at the 
address and times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the 
Internet at http:[sol][sol]www.regulations.gov by following the online 
instructions for accessing the dockets. DOT's complete Privacy Act 
Statement is available for review in the

[[Page 65056]]

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 below will 
be filed and will be considered. All 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 be published in the Federal 
Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.
    Comment closing date: November 22, 2010.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

    Issued on: October 14, 2010.
Claude H. Harris,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2010-26426 Filed 10-20-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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