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Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard

Barry Felrice
Federal Register
July 8, 1994

[Federal Register: July 8, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 541

[Docket No. 93-50; Notice 2]
RIN: 2127-AE85

 
Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: The Anti Car Theft Act (ACTA) of 1992, which amended Title VI, 
``Theft Prevention,'' of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings 
Act (Cost Savings Act), requires certain lines of multipurpose 
passenger vehicles (MPVs) and light-duty trucks (LDTs) to be designated 
as high theft lines. Manufacturers of high theft lines of those types 
of vehicles will have to mark the major parts of each vehicle in the 
line. This notice seeks comments on a definition of LDT for Title VI 
purposes and on which MPV and LDT parts should be considered major 
parts, and therefore subject to parts marking. In accordance with ACTA, 
NHTSA also proposes to require the marking of major parts of certain 
other lines because, although they have below median theft rates, their 
parts bear a significant degree of similarity to lines with above 
median theft rates.

DATES: Comments on this notice of proposed rulemaking must be received 
by this agency not later than September 6, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Comments should refer to the docket number referenced in the 
heading of this notice, and be submitted to: Docket Section, NHTSA, 
Room 5109, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. (Docket hours 
are 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Barbara A. Gray, Office of Market 
Incentives, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Ms. 
Gray's telephone number is (202) 366-1740.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Anti Car Theft Act of 1992

    The ``Anti Car Theft Act of 1992'' (ACTA) is a comprehensive attack 
on automotive theft and fraud. ACTA strengthens Federal penalties for 
motor vehicle theft, armed robbery of motor vehicles, and motor vehicle 
titling fraud. In addition, ACTA amended title VI ``Theft Prevention'' 
of the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act (Cost Savings 
Act) (15 U.S.C. 2021 et seq.).
    As amended by ACTA, title VI defines ``passenger motor vehicle'' to 
include ``any multipurpose passenger vehicle and light-duty truck that 
is rated at 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or less.'' (See section 
601(1) of title VI.) Since title VI had formerly defined ``passenger 
motor vehicle'' to include passenger cars only, the effect of the new 
definition is that certain multipurpose passenger vehicle (MPV) and 
light-duty truck (LDT) lines may be determined to be likely high theft 
vehicles, and may thus be subject to the parts marking requirements of 
the Theft Prevention Standard.
    In this notice, NHTSA proposes revisions to the Motor Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard (49 CFR part 541) to reflect the amendments to 
title VI. The purpose of the standard is to reduce the incidence of 
motor vehicle theft by facilitating the tracing and recovery of parts 
from stolen vehicles. The standard seeks to facilitate such tracing by 
requiring that vehicle identification numbers (VINs), VIN derivative 
numbers, or other symbols be placed on major motor vehicle parts. Each 
vehicle in a high theft line must have its major parts and major 
replacement parts marked unless the line is exempted from parts marking 
pursuant to 49 CFR part 543.

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    In a July 7, 1993 advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) (58 
FR 36376), public comment was sought to aid the agency in implementing 
ACTA. NHTSA sought comments on definitions of multipurpose passenger 
vehicles (MPVs) and light-duty trucks (LDTs) for the Theft Prevention 
Standard, and on which parts of these vehicles should be considered 
major parts and therefore subject to parts marking.

1. Definitions of MPV and LDT

    The agency noted that since the title VI requirements for 
``multipurpose passenger vehicles'' differ in some respects from those 
for ``light-duty trucks,'' these two terms must be defined so that it 
can be readily determined whether a particular vehicle is an MPV or an 
LDT. A distinction must be made between MPVs and LDTs in order to 
implement section 602(f) of the Theft Act. Section 602(f) requires 
NHTSA, by October 25, 1994, to promulgate a parts marking standard 
applicable to major parts installed by manufacturers of ``passenger 
motor vehicles (other than light-duty trucks) in not to exceed one-half 
of the lines not designated under section 603 as high theft lines.'' 
Since LDTs are excepted from coverage under section 602(f), but MPVs 
are subject to section 602(f), NHTSA must ensure that distinctions 
between LDTs and MPVs are made.
    In the ANPRM, NHTSA noted that its proposed definition of ``MPV'' 
followed the statutory definition of MPV in section 2(2) of the Cost 
Savings Act, except for being limited to vehicles at or less than 6,000 
pounds gross vehicle weight rating. NHTSA's proposed definition of 
``multipurpose passenger vehicle'' was:

    A passenger motor vehicle which is constructed either on a truck 
chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation 
and which is rated at 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or less.

    Defining ``light-duty truck'' was more complex. No definition of 
``light-duty truck'' is provided in the Cost Savings Act (including 
Title VI), or in ACTA itself. The legislative history of ACTA provides 
no express guidance as to what types of vehicles ACTA's drafters 
intended to include in ``light-duty truck'' for theft prevention 
purposes.
    After reviewing existing NHTSA definitions of ``light truck'' (for 
purposes of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Program) and ``truck'' 
(for purposes of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards), NHTSA 
proposed to base its definition of ``light duty truck'' for Theft 
Prevention Standard purposes on NHTSA's definition of ``truck'' at 49 
CFR 571.3: ``a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, 
designed primarily for the transportation of property or special 
purpose equipment.'' NHTSA modified the definition to take account of 
the 6,000 pound gross vehicle weight rating limitation. As modified, 
NHTSA's proposed definition of ``light-duty truck'' for the purposes of 
Title VI was:

    A motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed 
primarily for the transportation of property or special purpose 
equipment, that is rated at 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight or 
less.

    NHTSA selected this definition because it focuses on the primary 
distinction between multipurpose passenger vehicles and light-duty 
trucks: Multipurpose passenger vehicles are designed to carry 
passengers, while light-duty trucks are designed to carry property. 
This distinction is important for Theft Prevention Standard purposes 
because it facilitates the separation of MPVs from LDTs. Since 
multipurpose passenger vehicles are not designed primarily to transport 
property or equipment, multipurpose passenger vehicles are not included 
in the 49 CFR Sec. 571.3 definition of ``truck.''

2. Specifying ``Major Parts''

    NHTSA also sought public comments on major parts for MPVs and LDTs. 
Section 601(7) of Title VI ``Theft Prevention'' of the Motor Vehicle 
Information and Cost Savings Act, defines ``major part'' for passenger 
motor vehicles as:

The engine;
The transmission;
Each door allowing entrance or egress to the passenger compartment;
The hood;
The grille;
Each bumper;
Each front fender;
The deck lid, tailgate or hatchback (whichever is present);
Rear quarter panels;
The trunk floor pan;
The frame, or in the case of a unitized body, the supporting structure 
which serves as a frame; and
Any other part of a passenger motor vehicle which the agency, by rule, 
determines is comparable in design or function to any of the parts 
listed above.

    At 49 CFR Sec. 541.5, NHTSA has specified the major parts on high 
theft passenger car lines that must be marked. Section 541.5 lists all 
the parts identified in section 601(7) except for the grille, the trunk 
floor pan, and the frame or supporting structure which serves as a 
frame. The agency did not use its authority under section 601(7) to add 
additional parts to the list.
    Before its amendment by ACTA, title VI of the Cost Savings Act 
specified that manufacturers could not be required to mark more than 14 
major parts on a high theft passenger automobile. As amended, there is 
no statutory limit on the number of major parts that may be required to 
be marked. However, the scope of the parts marking requirement is still 
limited by a $15 (in 1984 dollars) maximum marking cost per vehicle. 
(See section 604.) Hence, although there is no longer a statutory limit 
on the number of parts that must be marked, the limit on costs involved 
in marking parts would still indirectly restrict the number of parts 
that can be required to be marked.
    In the ANPRM, NHTSA solicited comments on what parts of MPVs and of 
LDTs should be considered ``major parts.'' Comments were also solicited 
whether any other major parts on passenger cars should be added to the 
list of passenger car parts subject to the Theft Prevention Standard.

Comments on the ANPRM and NHTSA's Response

    In response to the ANPRM, NHTSA received comments from 13 
commenters: Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; AM General; American 
Automobile Manufacturers Association; Chrysler Corporation; Ford Motor 
Company; General Motors Corporation; the Maryland State Police; 
National Insurance Crime Bureau; the National Truck Equipment 
Association; Nissan Motor Company; Prospective Technologies; State Farm 
Insurance Companies; and Volkswagen of America. The commenters 
addressed the issues raised in the ANPRM as discussed below. NHTSA 
carefully considered their comments in developing this notice of 
proposed rulemaking.

1. Definitions of LDT and MPV

    All but two commenters, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety 
(Advocates), and State Farm, either concurred with NHTSA's proposed 
definition of light-duty truck (LDT) or had no comment. Advocates 
(whose comments were referenced by State Farm) urged that in defining 
LDT, the ``real-world use of the vehicle'' not the design, should be 
taken into account and that NHTSA exclude from the LDT definition, 
vehicles built to accommodate more than the driver and one passenger or 
vehicles designed to be convertible to passenger use.
    Regarding Advocates' recommendation that the ``LDT'' definition 
excludes vehicles built to accommodate more than a driver and one 
passenger, NHTSA sees no indication of any Congressional intent to 
exclude such vehicles from the definition of LDT. Since section 601(1) 
of the Theft Act defines ``passenger motor vehicle'' to include any 
``light-duty truck that is rated at 6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight 
or less,'' Congress must have intended LDTs to have some (unspecified) 
passenger carrying capacity. Advocates' definition of LDT would exclude 
many light trucks with jump seats in the passenger compartment, such as 
the S-10 Chevy pickup, the Ranger Ford pickup, the Toyota pickup, the 
Nissan pickup, and the Dodge Dakota.
    Further, NHTSA believes that its ANPRM definition of ``LDT'' makes 
clear that vehicles designed to be convertible to carry either property 
or passengers would be considered MPVs. In vehicles such as the E 150 
Ford Club Wagon and Ford Dodge B150 Wagon, passenger seats behind the 
driver and front passengers' seats are removable, creating a flat 
surface, with storage space inside the vehicle. When the seats are 
removed, cargo or other property may be carried in the vehicle, in lieu 
of passengers.
    Vehicles such as the Ford E 150 Club Wagon or Dodge B-150 Wagon, 
that may be converted to carry either passengers or property, are 
considered MPVs because they do not meet the proposed definition of 
``LDT.'' In the ANPRM, NHTSA discussed defining ``LDTs'' as those 6,000 
pound or under GVWR vehicles ``designed primarily for the 
transportation of property or special purpose equipment.'' Vehicles 
such as the Ford E 150 Club Wagon or Dodge B-150 Wagon were not 
designed primarily to carry property. However, vehicles such as the 
Ford E 150 Club Wagon and Dodge B-150 Wagon meet the proposed 
definition of ``MPV''--i.e., those 6,000 pound or under GVWR vehicles 
``constructed either on a truck chassis or with special features for 
occasional off-road operation.'' Thus, for purposes of the Theft 
Prevention Standard, a vehicle designed to be convertible to carry 
either passengers or property would be considered an MPV.
    Since there were no other comments addressing the definition of 
LDT, this notice of proposed rulemaking proposes to define ``light-duty 
truck'' as discussed in the ANPRM.

2. Multipurpose Passenger Vehicle

    All comments on the definition of ``multipurpose passenger 
vehicle'' concurred with the definition discussed in the ANPRM. Since 
there were no objections to that definition, NHTSA is proposing to 
define ``multipurpose passenger vehicle'' as set forth in the ANPRM.

3. Specifying ``Major Parts''

a. Major Parts for LDTs and MPV
    In discussing the proposal it would develop regarding major parts 
for LDTs and/or MPVs, NHTSA applied the same criteria used to select 
the current 14 major parts specified in the Theft Prevention Standard 
at Sec. 541.5(a). The selection criteria are whether the parts are 
among those most frequently repaired or most costly to replace. (See 50 
FR 19728, at 19732; May 10, 1985.)
    In response to the ANPRM, commenters recommended that parts already 
listed in the Theft Prevention Standard at Sec. 541.5(a) (1) through 
(11) (i.e., engine, transmission, right and left front fenders, hood, 
right and left front doors, right and left rear doors, front and rear 
bumpers) should, if present on a vehicle, be treated as major parts for 
MPVs and LDTs also. Since the 11 parts listed are among the most 
frequently repaired and costly to replace, NHTSA tentatively concurs 
that the parts, if present on MPVs and LDTs, should be major parts. 
NHTSA is proposing to treat these MPV and LDT parts as major parts.
    As to the designation of additional parts as major parts for MPVs 
and LDTs, commenters had similar recommendations. Right and left rear 
quarter panels (designated as major parts in Sec. 541.5(a) (12) and 
(13)), are not necessarily present on MPVs or LDTs. Therefore, GM and 
Ford recommended that for MPVs, in lieu of quarter panels, side-panels 
should be designated as major parts, and for LDTs, pickup boxes or 
cargo boxes should be designated as major parts. Volkswagen offered 
similar recommendations. It stated that side panels and pickup or cargo 
boxes are, respectively, the MPV and LDT counterparts to right and left 
quarter panels, designated major parts for passenger cars. In addition, 
the side panels and pickup or cargo boxes are among those most 
frequently repaired on, respectively, MPVs and LDTs.
    NHTSA tentatively agrees with the recommendations. Thus, it is 
proposing to include side panels as major parts for MPVs, and pickup 
boxes and/or cargo boxes as major parts for LDTs. Some commenters 
recommended the truck bed as a major part. NHTSA believes, however that 
``pickup box and/or cargo box'' includes ``truck bed'', and is not 
proposing to list truck bed separately.
    Other commenters recommended cargo doors as major parts for MPVs 
and LDTs. NHTSA concurs that cargo doors should be proposed as major 
parts, since cargo doors are the LDT counterpart to passenger car 
doors, and are among the parts most frequently replaced. Thus, NHTSA is 
proposing to treat cargo doors, if present on an LDT, as major parts.
b. Specifying Pieces of Motor Vehicle Glazing as Major Parts for MPVs, 
LTDs and Passenger Cars
    Advocates, Prospective Technologies, and State Farm, recommended 
that windows and pieces of other motor vehicle glazing be treated as 
major parts for all high theft vehicles. Prospective Technologies cited 
the relative ease with which vehicle glazing could be marked, the low 
cost of marking, and provided instances where motor vehicles with 
glazing that was voluntarily marked with the vehicle identification 
number resulted in lower theft rates. As an example, Prospective 
Technologies cited Nissan's experience in etching the windows of the 
Nissan 300ZX line with the vehicle identification number. As background 
information about the 300ZX line, since model year 1987, the Nissan 
300ZX, a high theft line, has been exempted from the parts marking 
requirements of part 541 because every vehicle in the 300ZX line has an 
antitheft device that NHTSA has determined is likely to be as effective 
as parts marking. (See 51 FR 42577, November 25, 1986.)
    Prospective reported that, beginning with model year 1992, Nissan 
initiated window etching for 100 percent of the vehicles in its 300ZX 
line. As a basis for comparison, no vehicle in the model year 1990 or 
1991 300ZX line had its windows etched. Prospective stated that State 
Farm Insurance Companies reported no theft claims on the etched 300ZXs 
for the first 12 months that the etching was available. Prospective 
further stated that the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reported 
the theft rate of window-etched Nissan 300ZXs to be 26 percent below 
that of the unmarked 300ZXs. Based on the NICB report, Prospective 
multiplied the average theft loss cost expected over the life of the 
300ZX ($1,012.50) by 26 percent to arrive at the theft loss reduction 
expected over the life of the 300ZX, or $263.25. Subtracting 
Prospective's estimate of the per vehicle cost of etching windows--
$5.00 (assuming economies of scale), Prospective estimates a net 
savings per vehicle as a result of window etching of $258.25.
    NHTSA tentatively agrees that specifying pieces of glazing as major 
parts to be marked pursuant to the Theft Prevention Standard would 
further the purpose of title IV, i.e., to provide for the 
identification of certain motor vehicles and their major replacement 
parts to impede motor vehicle theft. (See section 2(1).) Since the 
markings on glazing would be in plain view, all types of motor vehicle 
theft, not just theft for the purposes of chop shop operations or other 
trafficking in stolen motor vehicle parts, might be deterred.
    The possible furthering of legislative purpose and the public 
commenters' evidence of window-marking efficacy (based, in part, on a 
showing of lower theft losses for window marked Nissan 300ZXs compared 
with non window marked Nissan 300ZXs) leads NHTSA to propose to specify 
motor vehicle glazing as major parts. NHTSA further notes that motor 
vehicle glazing, especially windshields, are among those parts most 
frequently replaced. More specifically, NHTSA proposes to specify parts 
marking for the following glazing parts, if present on a high theft 
motor vehicle: Windshield; right front side window; left front side 
window; right rear side window; left rear side window; rear window; and 
right and left T-top inserts. NHTSA does not propose that glazing in 
the interior of the vehicle, such as partitions, or small outside-
facing glazing, such as side vents or opera windows, be designated as 
major parts. NHTSA seeks comment whether all the above listed glazing 
parts should be specified for parts marking, and if not, which parts 
should be excluded. NHTSA also seeks comment on the following three 
issues that arise from marking windows and other glazing parts.
    First, since all the glazing parts that NHTSA proposes for marking 
are made of glass, they are more fragile than major parts that are made 
mainly out of metal or hard rubber composites. Although glazing has a 
greater tendency to break, NHTSA does not propose to specify any 
particular method of parts marking for glazing, so that each 
manufacturer may decide for itself the best marking method. NHTSA, 
however, proposes that for parts that are labeled, glazing parts be 
excluded from the specification in Sec. 541.5(d)(1)(ii)(B) that the 
label be on a portion of the part not likely to be damaged in a 
collision, and seeks comment on whether the exclusion is necessary.
    Second, when marking major parts, manufacturers of original and 
replacement parts must designate target areas for the identifying 
number to be marked on each part. (See Secs. 541.5(e) and 541.6(e).) 
Pursuant to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205, Glazing 
materials (49 CFR 571.205), a glazing manufacturer must place markings 
on glazing certifying that the glazing complies with Standard No. 205. 
Standard No. 205 does not specify areas on the glazing where the 
certification markings must be placed. (See S6. Certification and 
marking of Standard No. 205.) NHTSA seeks public comment on how the 
theft program target areas for glazing parts can be specified so that 
theft program markings and Standard No. 205 markings are not placed in 
the same areas.
    The third issue concerns passenger car lines that were subject to 
the marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard before ACTA 
was enacted. NHTSA is proposing to specify pieces of glazing as major 
parts with the intention that manufacturers of such passenger car lines 
mark glazing parts, in addition to all of the other passenger car parts 
already specified in the Theft Prevention Standard. In this connection, 
NHTSA notes that ACTA removed the statutory limit on the number of 
major parts that may be required to be marked.
c. Decision Not To Propose Other Parts as Major Parts for MPVs, LTDs or 
Passenger Cars
    Commenters recommended several other motor vehicle parts for 
consideration as major parts for MPVs, LDTs and passenger cars. The 
NICB recommended that floor pans be considered as major parts for MPVs. 
The Maryland State Police recommended that frames and grilles be added 
as major parts for MPVs and LDTs. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety 
recommended including the rear axle housing, radiator core supports, 
and seats for MPVs and LTDs. Advocates further recommended designating 
airbag modules and vehicle computer modules as major parts for all high 
theft vehicles, including passenger cars. The commenters provided no 
evidence that marking the additional parts would be cost effective or 
result in fewer motor vehicle thefts.
    In contrast to the above recommendations, Nissan recommended that 
the ``rear trunk floor pan'' not be included as a major part. GM 
recommended that the grille, trunk floor pan, and frame (or comparable 
structure) not be added as major parts for passenger cars.
    NHTSA has decided not to propose the additional parts recommended 
above as major parts on high theft lines. NHTSA does not believe the 
recommended parts are as frequently replaced as those that are already 
listed as major parts in the Theft Prevention Standard. Marking the 
recommended parts would also mean additional costs for manufacturers, 
with no evidence that the additional marking would help deter or reduce 
motor vehicle thefts. Without a showing of possible reduction in motor 
vehicle thefts as a result of marking these additional parts, NHTSA 
sees no need to require manufacturers to incur the additional costs of 
marking.

Other Proposed Changes to the Theft Prevention Standard; Proposed 
Effective Date

    In addition to the foregoing, NHTSA proposes to include a 
definition of ``1990/91 median theft rate.'' NHTSA believes this 
definition is necessary to minimize confusion between the median theft 
rate specified in the Motor Vehicle Theft Law Enforcement Act of 1984, 
based on 1983/84 data, and the updated median theft rate specified in 
ACTA, based on 1990/1991 data. As mandated in ACTA, NHTSA calculated 
the theft rates of all ``passenger motor vehicles'' for sale in the 
U.S. in 1990 and 1991. NHTSA published the final results of its 
calculations (final theft data) in a Federal Register document of 
January 6, 1994. (See 59 FR 796) These data were subsequently corrected 
in a Federal Register document of March 16, 1994. (See 59 FR 12400) The 
corrected theft data showed that, based on 231 vehicle lines, the 
median theft rate was 3.5826 thefts per thousand vehicles produced.
    As discussed in the January 1994 document, in determining high or 
low theft lines, pursuant to 49 CFR part 542, Procedure for Selecting 
Lines to be Covered by the Theft Prevention Standard, NHTSA will apply 
the 1990/91 median theft rate to passenger motor vehicle lines to be 
introduced for model year (MY) 1996 and thereafter. NHTSA will continue 
to apply the 1983/84 median theft rate to passenger car lines 
introduced before MY 1996. In order to maintain consistency, NHTSA also 
proposes that the amendments proposed in this NPRM, if made final, be 
applied to all high theft passenger vehicle lines beginning with MY 
1996.
    Section 602(f) of the Theft Act requires NHTSA, by October 25, 
1994, to promulgate a parts marking standard applicable to major parts 
installed by manufacturers of ``passenger motor vehicles (other than 
light-duty trucks) in not to exceed one-half of the lines not 
designated under section 603 as high theft lines.'' In carrying out 
section 602(f), NHTSA began by reviewing theft rates of the 231 vehicle 
lines that were listed in the 1990/91 theft data. A total of 116 
vehicle lines (any line rated at number 116 and lower) was potentially 
subject to parts marking pursuant to section 602(f).
    Out of the 116 lines, NHTSA removed from consideration any line 
that was already subject to parts marking because NHTSA had previously 
determined the line to be high theft, and also removed all light-duty 
truck lines. NHTSA tentatively determined whether a line is a light-
duty truck line by applying the definition of ``light-duty truck'' 
proposed in this notice. If a different definition of ``light-duty 
truck'' is adopted in the final rule, NHTSA will, in the final rule, 
make appropriate adjustments to the list of subject lines. After 
removing the ineligible lines, NHTSA determined that there were 57 
below median lines still eligible for selection under section 602(f). 
Out of the 57 below median lines left, NHTSA designated the 28 lines 
with the highest theft rates, for selection to be parts marked pursuant 
to section 602(f).
    Therefore, in this NPRM, NHTSA proposes to implement section 602(f) 
by selecting for parts marking the highest ranked 28 (out of 57) 
eligible vehicle lines ranked below the 1990/91 median, in the January 
1994 final theft data. Since the selected lines must be marked pursuant 
to part 541, the Theft Prevention Standard, NHTSA proposes to list each 
of the 28 below-median lines to be marked, in appendix B to part 541. 
Pursuant to section 602(f) of the Theft Act, NHTSA proposes that parts 
marking for these below-median lines begin with MY 1996, the first 
model year that begins at least six months after October 1994. Since 
section 602(f) does not specify marking of replacement parts for below-
median lines, NHTSA is not proposing to require marking for replacement 
parts.
    Finally, since appendix B--Criteria for Limiting the Selection of 
Prestandard Lines Having or Likely to Have High Theft Rates to 14, 
contains outdated references to lines introduced before April 24, 1986, 
NHTSA proposes to revise Appendix B by removing all references to pre-
1986 lines, and, as described above, listing below median lines that 
must be parts marked.

Regulatory Impacts

1. Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This notice has not been reviewed under Executive Order 12866. 
NHTSA has considered the impact of this rulemaking action and has 
determined the action not to be ``significant'' under the Department of 
Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures. This action 
solicits comments on the definition of ``light-duty truck'' (LDT) and 
on what parts of multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs) and LDTs should 
be considered ``major parts.'' If made final, the definition of LDT may 
affect low theft lines that are selected for parts marking, pursuant to 
section 602(f) of the Theft Act. Since section 602(f) excludes LDTs 
from its coverage, any passenger motor vehicle with a low theft rate 
(other than an LDT) would be subject to parts marking. The definition 
clarifies which vehicles Congress intended to be subject, as LDTs, to 
the marking of high theft passenger motor vehicle lines, but excluded 
from the potential rules for marking of low theft passenger motor 
vehicle lines.
    Similarly, the selection of the MPV and LDT parts to be marked is 
already, in large part, decided by Congress in title VI, since the term 
``major parts'' is defined at section 601(7) of the Theft Act. However, 
the agency has authority under section 601(7) to make modifications to 
the statutory list. The specific nature of the modifications that might 
be made, as well as their impact, is unknown at this point. The overall 
cost of marking the MPVs and LDTs would, in any event, be limited to 
the $15 (in 1984 dollars), or $20.86 (in 1993 dollars, based on the 
U.S. Department of Labor's United States City Average All Items 
Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (See 59 FR 8021, February 
17, 1994)) per vehicle maximum specified in section 604(c).
    Based on 1993 motor vehicle production estimates calculated by the 
agency, NHTSA estimates the cost impact of this NPRM as follows. If 
this NPRM is made final, current high theft passenger cars will need to 
add window etching, at an estimated $5.00 per car. There were almost 3 
million high theft passenger cars sold in calendar year 1993, making 
this total cost of marking windows $15 million. Of these 3 million 
cars, about 2.5 million passenger cars were required to mark all 14 
parts, and about 0.5 million had to mark only the engine and 
transmission. Another 0.4 million were exempt from parts marking by 
having NHTSA-approved antitheft devices. If this NPRM is made final, 
vehicles with the NHTSA-approved antitheft devices would not need to 
have marked windows.
    If this NPRM is made final, high theft MPVs and LDTs, and lines 
listed in Appendix B must add both window etching ($5.00 and parts 
marking ($5.06) per vehicle for a total of $10.06 per vehicle. Based on 
1991 production figures, an additional 7.4 million would need to be 
marked, making the approximate cost of marking high theft MPVs, LTDs, 
and lines listed in appendix B, $74 million dollars. However, NHTSA 
believes the $74 million estimate is high because many manufacturers 
will petition for approval to use an antitheft device, in lieu of parts 
marking.
    Adding the $15 million estimated for the additional cost of window 
marking for existing high theft lines to $74 million to the cost of 
marking high theft MPVs, LDTs, and lines in appendix B, NHTSA estimates 
that if made final, the total cost of this NPRM would be approximately 
$89 million.
    NHTSA cannot estimate the benefits of the proposal. The average 
value of a stolen vehicle is approximately $6,100. Thus, the rule would 
have to result in the prevention of about 14,590 vehicle thefts ($89 
million divided by $6,100) to break even with the costs imposed, if 
this NPRM is made final.

2. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The agency has also considered the effects of this rulemaking 
action under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. I certify that this 
proposed rule, if made final, will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. As already noted, 
this proposed rule seeks comments on a definition of ``light duty 
truck'' and on parts for MPVs and LDTs that should be designated as 
``major parts.'' If made final, the proposed rule itself will have 
minimal effects on small manufacturers of passenger motor vehicles, as 
almost none of the manufacturers of passenger motor vehicles that may 
be subject to this rule is considered a small business. If made final, 
this proposed rule will have no effect on small organizations or 
governmental units that purchase passenger motor vehicles. Accordingly, 
the agency has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis.

3. National Environmental Policy Act

    In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 
the agency has considered the environmental impacts of this proposed 
rule and determined that if made final, it will not have a significant 
impact on the quality of the human environment.

4. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The procedures in this rule for manufacturers to mark vehicle 
identification numbers on specified parts of high theft passenger motor 
vehicle lines, are considered to be information collection requirements 
as that term is defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 
5 CFR part 1320. The information collection requirements for part 541 
have been submitted to and approved by the OMB, pursuant to the 
requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). 
This collection of information has been assigned OMB Control No. 2127-
0510, (Consolidated Vehicle Identification Number Requirements) and has 
been approved for use through June 30, 1996.

5. Federalism

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 12612, and it has been determined 
that the rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

6. Civil Justice Reform

    This proposed rule would not have any retroactive effect, and it 
does not preempt any State law. Section 613 of the Motor Vehicle 
Information and Cost Savings Act (15 U.S.C. 2020), provides that 
judicial review of this rule may be obtained pursuant to section 504 of 
the Cost Savings Act, (15 U.S.C. 2004). The Cost Savings Act does not 
require submission of a petition for reconsideration or other 
administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court.

Procedures for Filing Comments

    NHTSA solicits public comments on the issues presented in this 
notice. It is requested, but not required that 10 copies be submitted.
    All comments must not exceed 15 pages in length. (49 CFR 553.21). 
Necessary attachments may be appended to these submissions without 
regard to the 15 page limit. This limitation is intended to encourage 
commenters to detail their primary arguments in a concise fashion.
    If a commenter wishes to submit certain information under a claim 
of confidentiality, three copies of the complete submission, including 
purportedly confidential business information, should be submitted to 
the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the street address given above, and seven 
copies from which the purportedly confidential information has been 
deleted should be submitted to the Docket Section. A request for 
confidentiality should be accompanied by a cover letter setting forth 
the information specified in the agency's confidential business 
information regulation. 49 CFR part 512.
    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated above for this notice will be considered, and 
will be available for examination in the docket at the above address 
both before and after that date. To the extent possible, comments filed 
after the closing date will also be considered. Comments received too 
late for consideration in regard to the final rule will be considered 
as suggestions for further rulemaking action. Comments on this notice 
will be available for inspection in the docket. NHTSA will continue to 
file relevant information as it becomes available for inspection in the 
docket after the closing date, and it is recommended that interested 
persons continue to examine the docket for new material.
    Those persons desiring to be notified upon receipt of their 
comments in the rules docket should enclose a self-addressed, stamped 
postcard in the envelope with their comments. Upon receiving the 
comments, the docket supervisor will return the postcard by mail.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 541

    Administrative practice and procedure, Labeling, Motor vehicles, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR part 541 would be revised 
to read as follows:
    1. The authority citation would continue to read as follows:

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 2021-2024, and 2026; delegation of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 541.3 would be revised to read as follows:


Sec. 541.3.  Application.

    This standard applies to the following:
    (a) Passenger motor vehicle parts identified in Sec. 541.5(a) that 
are present:
    (1) In the vehicle lines listed in appendix A of this part;
    (2) Beginning with model year 1996, in passenger motor vehicle 
lines which NHTSA has finally determined, pursuant to 49 CFR part 542, 
to be high theft based on the 1990/91 median theft rate; and
    (3) Beginning with model year 1996, in passenger motor vehicle 
lines listed in appendix B of this part.
    (b) Replacement parts for the passenger motor vehicle lines 
described in Sec. 541.3(a) (1) and (2), if the part is identified in 
Sec. 541.5(a).

    3. Section 541.4 would be revised to read as follows:


Sec. 541.4.  Definitions.

    (a) Statutory terms. All terms defined in sections 2 and 601 of the 
Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act (15 U.S.C. 1901 and 
2021) are used in accordance with their statutory meanings unless 
otherwise defined in paragraph (b) of this section.
    (b) Other definitions.--(1) Interior surface means, with respect to 
a vehicle part, a surface that is not directly exposed to sun and 
precipitation.
    (2) Light-duty truck (LDT) means a motor vehicle, with motive 
power, except a trailer, designed primarily for the transportation of 
property or special purpose equipment, that is rated at 6,000 pounds 
gross vehicle weight or less.
    (3) Line means a name which a manufacturer applies to a group of 
motor vehicles of the same make which have the same body or chassis, or 
otherwise are similar in construction or design. A ``line'' may, for 
example, include 2-door, 4-door, station wagon, and hatchback vehicles 
of the same make.
    (4) 1990/91 median theft rate means 3.5826 thefts per thousand 
vehicles produced.
    (5) Multipurpose passenger vehicle (MPV) means a passenger motor 
vehicle which is constructed either on a truck chassis or with special 
features for occasional off-road operation and which is rated at 6,000 
pounds gross vehicle weight or less.
    (6) Passenger car is used as defined in Sec. 571.3 of this chapter.
    (7) VIN means the vehicle identification number required by part 
565 and Sec. 571.115 of this chapter.

    4. Section 541.5 would be revised to read as follows:


Sec. 541.5  Requirements for passenger motor vehicles.

    (a) Each passenger motor vehicle subject to this standard must have 
an identifying number affixed or inscribed on each of the parts 
specified in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(26) inclusive of this 
section, if the part is present on the passenger motor vehicle. In the 
case of passenger motor vehicles not originally manufactured to comply 
with applicable U.S. vehicle safety and bumper standards, each such 
motor vehicle subject to this standard must have an identifying number 
inscribed in a manner which conforms to paragraph (d)(2) of this 
section, on each of the parts specified in paragraphs (a)(1) through 
(a)(26), inclusive of this section, if the part is present on the motor 
vehicle.
    (1) Engine.
    (2) Transmission.
    (3) Right Front Fender.
    (4) Left Front Fender.
    (5) Hood.
    (6) Right Front Door.
    (7) Left Front Door.
    (8) Right Rear Door.
    (9) Left Rear Door.
    (10) Sliding or Cargo Door(s).
    (11) Front Bumper.
    (12) Rear Bumper.
    (13) Right Rear Quarter Panel (passenger cars).
    (14) Left Rear Quarter Panel (passenger cars).
    (15) Right-Side Assembly (MPVs).
    (16) Left-Side Assembly (MPVs).
    (17) Pickup box, and/or cargo box (LDTs).
    (18) Rear door(s) (both doors in case of double doors), decklid, 
tailgate, or hatchback (whichever is present).
    (19) Windshield.
    (20) Window of the Right Front Door.
    (21) Window of the Left Front Door.
    (22) Window of the Right Rear Door.
    (23) Window of the Left Rear Door.
    (24) Rear Window.
    (25) Right T-top Glazing.
    (26) Left T-top Glazing.
    (b)(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this 
section, the number required to be inscribed or affixed by paragraph 
(a) of this section shall be the VIN of the passenger motor vehicle.
    (2) In place of the VIN, manufacturers who were marking engines 
and/or transmissions with a VIN derivative consisting of at least the 
last eight characters of the VIN on October 24, 1984, may continue to 
mark engines and/or transmissions with such VIN derivative.
    (3) In the case of passenger motor vehicles not originally 
manufactured to comply with U.S. vehicle safety and bumper standards, 
the number required to be inscribed by paragraph (a) of this section 
shall be the original vehicle identification number assigned to the 
motor vehicle by its original manufacturer in the country where the 
motor vehicle was originally produced or assembled.
    (c) The characteristics of the number required to be affixed or 
inscribed by paragraph (a) of this section shall satisfy the size and 
style requirements set forth for vehicle certification labels in 
Sec. 567.4(g) of this chapter.
    (d) The number required by paragraph (a) of this section must be 
affixed by means that comply with paragraph (d)(1) of this section or 
inscribed by means that comply with paragraph (d)(2) of this section.
    (1) Labels. (i) The number must be printed indelibly on a label, 
and the label must be permanently affixed to the passenger motor 
vehicle's part.
    (ii) The number must be placed on each part specified in paragraph 
(a) of this section in a location such that the number is, if 
practicable, on an interior surface of the part as installed on the 
vehicle and in a location where it:
    (A) Will not be damaged by the use of any tools necessary to 
install, adjust, or remove the part and any adjoining parts, or any 
portions thereof;
    (B) Except for labels on windows or other glazing, is on a portion 
of the part not likely to be damaged in a collision; and
    (C) Will not be damaged or obscured during normal dealer 
preparation operations (including rustproofing and undercoating).
    (iii) The number must be placed on each part specified in paragraph 
(a) of this section in a location that is visible without further 
disassembly once the part has been removed from the vehicle.
    (iv) The number must be placed entirely within the target area 
specified by the original manufacturer for that part, pursuant to 
paragraph (e) of this section, on each part specified in paragraph (a) 
of this section.
    (v) Removal of the label must--
    (A) Cause the label to self-destruct by tearing or rendering the 
number on the label illegible, and
    (B) Discernibly alter the appearance of that area of the part where 
the label was affixed by leaving residual parts of the label or 
adhesive in that area, so that investigators will have evidence that a 
label was originally present.
    (vi) Alteration of the number on the label must leave traces of the 
original number or otherwise visibly alter the appearance of the label 
material.
    (vii) The label and the number shall be resistant to 
counterfeiting.
    (viii) The logo or some other unique identifier of the vehicle 
manufacturer must be placed in the material of the label in a manner 
such that alteration or removal of the logo visibly alters the 
appearance of the label.
    (2) Other means of identification. (i) Removal or alteration of any 
portion of the number must visibly alter the appearance of the section 
of the vehicle part on which the identification is marked.
    (ii) The number must be placed on each part specified in paragraph 
(a) of this section in a location that is visible without further 
disassembly once the part has been removed from the vehicle.
    (iii) The number must be placed entirely within the target area 
specified by the original manufacturer for that part, pursuant to 
paragraph (e) of this section, on each part specified in paragraph (a) 
of this section.
    (e) Target areas. (1) Each manufacturer that is the original 
producer who installs or assembles the covered major parts on a line 
shall designate a target area for the identifying numbers to be marked 
on each part specified in paragraph (a) of this section for each of its 
lines subject to this standard. The target area shall not exceed 50 
percent of the surface area on the surface of the part on which the 
target area is located.
    (2) Each manufacturer subject to paragraph (e)(1) of this section 
shall, not later than 30 days before the line is introduced into 
commerce, inform NHTSA in writing of the target areas designated for 
each line listed in appendix A to this part. The information should be 
submitted to: Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590.
    (3) The target areas designated by the original vehicle 
manufacturer for a part on a line shall be maintained for the duration 
of the production of such line, unless a restyling of the part makes it 
no longer practicable to mark the part within the original target area. 
If there is such a restyling, the original vehicle manufacturer shall 
inform NHTSA of that fact and the new target area, in accordance with 
the requirements of paragraph (e)(2) of this section.

    5. Appendix B would be revised to read as follows:

Appendix B--Passenger Motor Vehicle Lines (Except Light-Duty Trucks) 
with Theft Rates Below the 1990/91 Median Theft Rate, Subject to the 
Requirements of This Standard 

------------------------------------------------------------------------
           Manufacturer                         Subject lines           
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chrysler...........................  Dodge Ramcharger.                  
                                     Dodge Ram Wagon/Van B150.          
Daihatsu...........................  Rocky.                             
Ferrari............................  Testarossa.                        
Ford...............................  Aerostar.                          
                                     Crown Victoria.                    
                                     Explorer.                          
                                     Festiva.                           
                                     Mercury Grand Marquis.             
                                     Mercury Sable.                     
                                     Taurus.                            
General Motors.....................  Chevrolet Astro.                   
                                     Chevrolet Celebrity.               
                                     Chevrolet Sprint.                  
                                     GMC Safari.                        
                                     Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser.         
                                     Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser.        
Honda..............................  Civic.                             
Mazda..............................  Navajo.                            
Nissan.............................  Axxess.                            
Porsche............................  944.                               
Volvo..............................  240.                               
                                     740.                               
                                     760.                               
                                     940.                               
Volkswagen.........................  Audi 80/90.                        
                                     Fox.                               
                                     Passat.                            
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Issued on: July 1, 1994.
Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 94-16493 Filed 7-7-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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