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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Electric Vehicles Controls and Displays; Windshield Defrosting and Defogging Systems

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Electric Vehicles Controls and Displays; Windshield Defrosting and Defogging Systems

Christopher A. Hart
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Federal Register
March 9, 1994

[Federal Register: March 9, 1994]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. 91-49; Notice 4]
RIN 2127-AE29

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Electric Vehicles 
Controls and Displays; Windshield Defrosting and Defogging Systems

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

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This document adopts minor amendments to the Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard on windshield defrosting and defogging systems 
that make the systems more appropriate for electric powered motor 
vehicles. This document also announces the agency's decision not to 
adopt similar minor amendments that were proposed for controls and 
displays for electric powered vehicles. The reason for this decision is 
that standardization does not appear necessary at the present time for 
motor vehicle safety.

DATES: The effective date of the final rule is September 6, 1994. 
Petitions for reconsideration of the final rule must be received not 
later than April 8, 1994.


Gary R. Woodford, Special Projects Staff, Office of Rulemaking NHTSA 

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: On January 15, 1993, NHTSA issued a notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing minor amendments of Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards on controls and displays and windshield 
defrosting and defogging systems (58 FR 4644). The proposal was issued 
to make these standards more appropriate for electric powered vehicles 
(EVs), and to put any necessary standards in place as soon as possible 
to support the safe introduction and operation of EVs. To delay 
rulemaking until significant production of EVs actually begins could 
not only fail to prevent avoidable safety problems, but also disrupt 
and impede the development and commercialization of EVs. The reader is 
referred to the NPRM for an extensive discussion of the background 
leading to the proposal.
    Towards this goal, NHTSA identified two Federal motor vehicle 
safety standards whose modification appeared to be desirable to 
facilitate introduction of EVs.

1. Standard No. 101, Controls and Displays

    The regulatory issue was whether a gauge and symbol should be 
required to indicate battery energy level to inform drivers about the 
vehicle's remaining range capability before recharging is necessary. 
General Motors had stated that the European agencies have agreed to use 
the ISO battery symbol to indicate electrical power reserve and 
requested NHTSA's concurrence to use it.
    As NHTSA noted in the NPRM, it believes that EV manufacturers will 
provide a ``range indicator'' or ``state-of-charge'' indicator similar 
to the fuel gauge on a conventionally powered vehicle, without a 
regulatory requirement that they do so. In the agency's tentative view, 
the method of measuring state-of-charge should be left to the 
manufacturer, as the accuracy of current systems varies widely at this 
stage of the art. However, NHTSA proposed that the state-of-charge 
indicator (whether a gauge or otherwise) contain an illuminated 
telltale with the word ``RECHARGE'', and the ISO battery symbol 
(identical to the one presently specified to indicate ``electrical 
charge'' and used in nonelectric vehicles), which would illuminate when 
the electrical energy remaining in the battery system contains less 
than 25 percent of full charge. NHTSA invited specific comments as to 
whether a value other than 25 percent would be more appropriate. NHTSA 
asked for comments on whether use of the ISO symbol to indicate a 
state-of-charge warning would be confusing given its present use to 
indicate ``electrical charge'' in conventionally powered vehicles. It 
also asked whether an alternative symbol, such as the outline of a 
household electrical plug, might be desirable.
    Comments on the proposal were received from Chrysler Corporation, 
Volkswagen of America, Inc. (VW), General Motors Corporation (GM), 
Toyota Motor Corporate Services of North America, Inc. (Toyota), Ford 
Motor Company, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., and American Honda Motor Co. 
    The comments indicated that manufacturers intend to offer a state-
of-charge indicator with a means for the operator to determine when 
battery recharging is necessary. However, four of the five 
manufacturers who commented on the issue disagreed with use of the 
battery symbol for a low state-of-charge warning since it has already 
acquired a meaning for operators of conventional vehicles. Only GM 
supported use of the symbol. Two of the three commenters on the issue 
opposed use of the word ``recharge'', though it was supported by GM. 
Chrysler commented that use of the word might cause an operator to feel 
that an immediate recharge was necessary. VW believes that use of the 
word is inappropriate because the need for a recharge can be determined 
from the state-of-charge indicator.
    These comments indicate that manufacturers will offer a state-of-
charge indicator and that a Federal regulation requiring them to do so 
is unnecessary. Given the diversity of opinion as to appropriate 
wording and/or symbols, the agency is choosing at the present time not 
to impose a regulatory requirement for identification of a low the 
state-of-charge, recognizing that any wording or symbol chosen by an EV 
manufacturer will be explained in the operator's manual.
    Finally, although NHTSA did not propose regulatory language that a 
low state-of-charge warning activate when the state-of-charge reached 
25 percent of capacity, it asked for comments on the appropriateness of 
this value, and on alternative values. All seven commenters recommended 
that the activation level of a low state-of-charge warning be 
determined by the vehicle manufacturer, with six rejecting the 25 
percent level, and the seventh merely conceding that it ``may be 
adequate.'' These comments will be taken into consideration should 
NHTSA decide to explore this subject further in the further.
    For the reasons discussed above, NHTSA has decided not to adopt the 
amendments to Standard No. 101 that were proposed in Notice 3.

    2. FMVSS No. 103, Windshield Defrosting and Defogging Systems

    One provision of Standard No. 103 requires the defrosting and 
defogging system of a vehicle to be capable of melting a specific 
amount of windshield ice within a specified time period after allowing 
time for engine warm-up. NHTSA believed that the reference to engine 
warm-up is inappropriate for EVs in general and might need revision. In 
accordance with recommendations from industry, NHTSA proposed that the 
warm-up procedure should be the one that the manufacturer recommends 
for cold weather starting. Specifically, it proposed that the 
manufacturer's cold weather warmup procedure be followed by vehicles 
equipped with a heating system (other than a heat exchanger type system 
that uses the engine's liquid coolant as a means to supply the heat to 
the heat exchanger). These changes would be made to the demonstration 
procedures in S4.3(a) and S4.3(b).
    Comments were received from GM, Chrysler, Ford, VW, and Toyota. GM, 
VW and Ford supported the proposed amendments as adequate and 
    Chrysler supported the proposal as well. It brought to NHTSA's 
attention the fact that the EV equipped with an electrical resistance 
heater, and tested at rest in a cold room facility, would have an 
abundance of electrical power available and could easily meet most 
defrost performance requirements. However, it noted that when the same 
vehicle is operating under normal road load conditions, the defrost/
heat system may not have the same battery energy available since the 
propulsion system may utilize a large amount of power. Chrysler 
cautioned that these factors must be considered before establishing 
precise defrost/defogging system requirements for EVs. In its opinion, 
judging EV defroster performance ``will require unique testing 
procedures that must be relatively elaborate and formalized to ensure 
that vehicle performance meets the regulatory intent of the standard.'' 
It observed that these procedures could be formulated by knowledgeable 
industry personnel working through an organization such as the SAE.
    NHTSA concurs with Chrysler's comments and encourages the industry, 
either through SAE or other industry organizations, to explore this 
issue. At present, Standard No. 103 allows the defrosting and defogging 
system to be tested with the vehicle in neutral gear. EVs equipped with 
electric resistance heaters, which draw power from the vehicle 
propulsion batteries, may incur a degradation in performance under road 
load conditions or under less than full state-of-charge conditions. 
Currently, the agency has no information to determine the extent to 
which any such degradation may exist, or the extent to which it may 
impede vehicle safety. Moreover, the agency has no information on the 
number of EVs that will employ electric resistance heaters or use 
auxiliary combustible fuel heaters. To a large extent, EV technology is 
still in the developmental state. Therefore, NHTSA will monitor this 
issue for possible future rulemaking, and encourages the industry to 
explore it as well.
    Toyota also supported the proposed amendments, but suggested that 
three pre-test conditions be adopted. Under these conditions, testing 
would be initiated with the battery at full charge, and the battery 
would be charging until defrost/defog testing is started. However, the 
battery should not be included in the -18 degrees C soak time as 
currently specified by the test procedure of SAE Standard J902 
incorporated by reference in Standard No. 103. NHTSA appreciates 
Toyota's comments but believes that manufacturers are likely to begin 
defrost/defog testing with the battery at its maximum state of charge, 
and the battery will be charging until testing begins. Thus, no further 
regulatory language appears called for. The agency disagrees with 
Toyota's contention that the battery should not be included in the soak 
time because a temperature of -18 degrees C replicates the real world 
conditions under which some EVs are likely to be operated. Thus, NHTSA 
will not consider Toyota's suggestion as a candidate for future 
    Taking into consideration the foregoing remarks, NHTSA is amending 
S4.3 (a) and (b) of Standard No. 103 exactly as proposed, with a single 
exception. The present reference speed in S4.3(b)(2)(ii) is 25 m.p.h. 
The NPRM incorrectly stated it as 15 m.p.h. There was no intention to 
propose a reference speed of 15 m.p.h., and the final rule correctly 
states it as 25 m.p.h.

Effective Date

    The amendments are effective September 6, 1994.

Rulemaking Analyses

Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    NHTSA has considered the impacts of this rulemaking action under 
E.O. 12866 ``Regulatory Planning and Review'', and the Department of 
Transportation regulatory policies and procedures. This action has been 
determined to be not ``significant'' under either, and has not been 
reviewed by OMB under E.O. 12866. The agency has determined that the 
economic effects of the amendment are so minimal that a full regulatory 
evaluation is not required. The purpose of the rule is to clarify 
several existing requirements applicable to all motor vehicles so that 
they may, in recognition of the different characteristics of EVs, be 
more appropriate for EVs. The rule makes no change in the cost of 
compliance for EVs.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism)

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

National Environmental Policy Act

    The agency has determined that the notice will not have a 
significant effect upon the environment for the purposes of the 
National Environmental Policy Act. There is no environmental impact 
associated with the rulemaking action since it clarifies the 
applicability of an existing Federal motor vehicle safety standard to 
EVs. To the extent that the rulemaking action will facilitate the 
production of EVs, it may result in a net positive benefit to the 

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The agency has also considered the effects of this rulemaking 
action in relation to the Regulatory Flexibility Act. I certify that 
this rulemaking action will not have a significant economic effect upon 
a substantial number of small entities. Although some EV manufacturers 
may be small businesses within the meaning of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, these manufacturers are already required to comply 
with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards that the rulemaking 
action is intended to clarify. Further, small organizations and 
governmental jurisdictions will not be significantly affected as the 
price of new EVs should not be impacted. The notice clarifies some 
existing requirements that EVs must meet. Accordingly, no Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis has been prepared.

Civil Justice Reform

    This rule will not have any retroactive effect. Under section 
103(d) of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 
1392(d)), whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard is in 
effect, a state may not adopt or maintain a safety standard applicable 
to the same aspect of performance which is not identical to the Federal 
standard. Section 105 of the Act (15 U.S.C. 1394) sets forth a 
procedure for judicial review of final rules establishing, amending or 
revoking Federal motor vehicle safety standards. That section does not 
require submission of a petition for reconsideration or other 
administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 571

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles.


    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR part 571 is amended as 
    1. The authority citation for part 571 continues to read:

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1392, 1401, 1407; delegation of authority 
at 49 CFR part 1.50.

Sec. 571.103  [Amended]

    2. Paragraphs S4.3 (a) and (b) of Sec. 571.103 are revised to read:
    S4.3 Demonstration procedure * * *
    (a) During the first 5 minutes of the test:
    (1) For a passenger car equipped with a heating system other than a 
heat exchanger type that uses the engine's coolant as a means to supply 
the heat to the heat exchanger, the warm-up procedure is that specified 
by the vehicle's manufacturer for cold weather starting, except that 
connection to a power or heat source external to the vehicle is not 
    (2) For all other passenger cars, the warm-up procedure may be that 
recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer for cold weather starting.
    (b) During the last 35 minutes of the test period (or the entire 
test period if the 5-minute warm-up procedure specified in paragraph 
(a) of this section is not used),
    (1) For a passenger car equipped with a heating system other than a 
heat exchanger type that uses the engine's coolant as a means to supply 
the heat to the heat exchanger, the procedure shall be that specified 
by the vehicle's manufacturer for cold weather starting, except that 
connection to a power or heat source external to the vehicle is not 
    (2) For all other passenger cars, either--
    (i) The engine speed shall not exceed 1,500 r.p.m. in neutral gear; 
    (ii) The engine speed and load shall not exceed the speed and load 
at 25 m.p.h. in the manufacturer's recommended gear with road load.
* * * * *
    Issued on March 2, 1994.
Christopher A. Hart,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-5187 Filed 3-8-94; 8:45 am]

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