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Decision That Nonconforming 1989 Audi 100 Passenger Cars Are Eligible for Importation

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Audi 100

Decision That Nonconforming 1989 Audi 100 Passenger Cars Are Eligible for Importation

William A. Boehly
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Federal Register
December 28, 1994

[Federal Register: December 28, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
[Docket No. 94-82; Notice 2]

 
Decision That Nonconforming 1989 Audi 100 Passenger Cars Are 
Eligible for Importation

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

ACTION: Notice of decision by NHTSA that nonconforming 1989 Audi 100 
passenger cars are eligible for importation.

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SUMMARY: This notice announces the decision by NHTSA that 1989 Audi 100 
passenger cars not originally manufactured to comply with all 
applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards are eligible for 
importation into the United States because they are substantially 
similar to a vehicle originally manufactured for importation into and 
sale in the United States and certified by its manufacturer as 
complying with the safety standards (the U.S.-certified version of the 
1989 Audi 100), and they are capable of being readily altered to 
conform to the standards.

DATE: This decision is effective as of December 28, 1994.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ted Bayler, Office of Vehicle Safety 
Compliance, NHTSA (202-366-5306).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Under 49 U.S.C. 30141(a)(1)(A) (formerly section 108(c)(3)(A)(i) of 
the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the Act)), a motor 
vehicle that was not originally manufactured to conform to all 
applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards shall be refused 
admission into the United States unless NHTSA has decided that the 
motor vehicle is substantially similar to a motor vehicle originally 
manufactured for importation into and sale in the United States, 
certified under 49 U.S.C. 30115 (formerly section 114 of the Act), and 
of the same model year as the model of the motor vehicle to be 
compared, and is capable of being readily altered to conform to all 
applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards.
    Petitions for eligibility decisions may be submitted by either 
manufacturers or importers who have registered with NHTSA pursuant to 
49 CFR part 592. As specified in 49 CFR 593.7, NHTSA publishes notice 
in the Federal Register of each petition that it receives, and affords 
interested persons an opportunity to comment on the petition. At the 
close of the comment period, NHTSA decides, on the basis of the 
petition and any comments that it has received, whether the vehicle is 
eligible for importation. The agency then publishes this decision in 
the Federal Register.
    J.K. Motors, Inc. of Kingsville, Maryland (``J.K.'') (Registered 
Importer R-90-006) petitioned NHTSA to decide whether 1989 Audi 100 
passenger cars are eligible for importation into the United States. 
NHTSA published notice of the petition on October 3, 1994 (59 FR 50332) 
to afford an opportunity for public comment.
    As stated in that notice, the vehicle which J.K. claimed to be 
substantially similar is the version of the 1989 Audi 100 that was 
manufactured for importation into and sale in the United States and 
certified as conforming to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety 
standards. The petitioner alleged that it had carefully compared the 
two vehicles, and found them to be substantially similar with respect 
to compliance with most applicable Federal motor vehicle safety 
standards.
    Specifically, the petitioner claimed that the non-U.S. certified 
1989 Audi 100 is identical to its U.S. certified counterpart with 
respect to compliance with Standard Nos. 102 Transmission Shift Lever 
Sequence * * *, 103 Defrosting and Defogging Systems, 104 Windshield 
Wiping and Washing Systems, 105 Hydraulic Brake Systems, 106 Brake 
Hoses, 107 Reflecting Surfaces, 109 New Pneumatic Tires, 113 Hood Latch 
Systems, 116 Brake Fluid, 124 Accelerator Control Systems, 201 Occupant 
Protection in Interior Impact, 202 Head Restraints, 203 Impact 
Protection for the Driver From the Steering Control System, 204 
Steering Control Rearward Displacement, 205 Glazing Materials, 206 Door 
Locks and Door Retention Components, 207 Seating Systems, 209 Seat Belt 
Assemblies, 210 Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages, 211 Wheel Nuts, Wheel 
Discs and Hubcaps, 212 Windshield Retention, 214 Side Door Strength, 
216 Roof Crush Resistance, 219 Windshield Zone Intrusion, 301 Fuel 
System Integrity, and 302 Flammability of Interior Materials.
    Petitioner also contended that the vehicle is capable of being 
readily altered to meet the following standards, in the manner 
indicated:
    Standard No. 101 Controls and Displays: (a) Substitution of a lens 
marked ``Brake'' for a lens with an ECE symbol on the brake failure 
indicator lamp; (b) recalibration of the speedometer/odometer from 
kilometers to miles per hour.
    Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated 
Equipment: (a) Installation of U.S.-model headlamp assemblies; (b) 
installation of U.S.-model taillamp lenses which incorporate rear 
sidemarkers; (c) installation of a high mounted stop lamp.
    Standard No. 110 Tire Selection and Rims: Installation of a tire 
information placard.
    Standard No. 111 Rearview Mirror: Replacement of the passenger side 
rearview mirror with a U.S.-model component
    Standard No. 114 Theft Protection : Installation of a key 
microswitch and a warning buzzer in the steering lock assembly.
    Standard No. 115 Vehicle Identification Number: Installation of a 
VIN plate that can be read from outside the left windshield pillar, and 
a VIN reference label on the edge of the door or latch post nearest the 
driver.
    Standard No. 108 Occupant Crash Protection: Installation of a seat 
belt warning buzzer, wired to the seat belt latch.
    Additionally, the petitioner stated that the bumpers on the non-
U.S. certified 1989 Audi 100 must be reinforced to comply with the 
Bumper Standard found in 49 CFR 581.102.
    One comment was received in response to the notice of the petition, 
from Volkswagen of America, Inc. (``Volkswagen''), the United States 
representative of Audi A.G., the vehicle's manufacturer. In its 
comment, Volkswagen stated that different engine compartment and 
instrument cluster wiring assemblies are used in the U.S. certified and 
non-U.S. certified versions of the 1989 Audi 100, and that compliance 
with Standard Nos. 101 and 108 therefore cannot be achieved by merely 
replacing lamp assemblies on the non-U.S. certified vehicle, as the 
petitioner has claimed. Volkswagen also noted that the petitioner did 
not address compliance with Standard No. 118, Power-Operated Window 
Systems, but the power window control system does not comply with that 
standard because it can be operated when the key is not in the ignition 
and when the vehicle doors are open. Volkswagen further stated that 
body shell modifications were made and additional bracing was added in 
the engine compartment area of the U.S. certified 1989 Audi 100 so that 
it complied with the Bumper Standard found in 49 CFR part 581, and that 
contrary to the petitioner's claim, reinforcement of the bumper 
assembly alone is insufficient to assure conformity to that standard. 
Finally, Volkswagen stated that NHTSA designated the Audi 100 as a high 
theft carline under the Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard 
found in 49 CFR part 541, but exempted those vehicles from the 
standard's parts marking requirements under 49 CFR part 543 because 
they are equipped with a theft deterrent system. Volkswagen contends 
that the theft deterrent system on the non-U.S. certified 1989 Audi 100 
has a different acoustic and light signal output than that on the U.S. 
certified version of the vehicle, and that NHTSA would have to approve 
that system to exempt the non-U.S. certified vehicle from the 
standard's parts marking requirements. Volkswagen further asserted that 
compliance with those requirements is required before a non-exempt 
vehicle can be imported, and in absence of such compliance, the non-
U.S. certified 1989 Audi is ineligible for importation into the United 
States.
    NHTSA accorded J.K. an opportunity to respond to Volkswagen's 
comment. In its response, J.K. stated that it modifies the wiring 
harness when it installs U.S.-model headlamps in the non-U.S. certified 
1989 Audi 100. This is necessary because the bulbs in the U.S.-model 
headlamps will not fit into the European harness. J.K. also stated that 
the running lights that normally show forward in the European headlamps 
become the marker lights when the assembly is modified to meet U.S. 
standards. J.K. further stated that it makes minor modifications to the 
mounting points, center, and sides of the vehicle's bumper to bring it 
into compliance with the Bumper Standard in 49 CFR part 591. As 
described by the petitioner, these modifications consist of welding 
gussets and a plate between the mounting points to prevent them from 
collapsing in the event of a minor frontal impact. J.K. further stated 
that all body and associated panel components are marked with the 
vehicle's VIN before importation to comply with the Theft Prevention 
Standard. Finally, J.K. stated that it adds a relay to the vehicle's 
power window system to prevent the window transport from operating when 
the ignition is turned off, thereby achieving compliance with Standard 
No. 118.
    NHTSA has reviewed each of the issues that Volkswagen has raised 
regarding J.K.'s petition. NHTSA believes that J.K.'s response 
adequately addresses each of those issues. NHTSA further notes that the 
modifications describes by J.K. have been performed with relative ease 
on thousands of nonconforming vehicles imported over the years, and 
would not preclude the non-U.S. certified 1989 Audi 100 from being 
found ``capable of being readily modified to comply with all Federal 
motor vehicle safety standards.'' NHTSA finally observes that 
compliance with the Theft Prevention Standard in 49 CFR part 541 has no 
bearing on an import eligibility decision, which is instead concerned 
with whether a vehicle is capable of being readily modified to conform 
to the safety standards. As a matter of law, a vehicle covered by the 
Theft Prevention Standard may not be conformed after its entry into the 
United States, but must comply at the time of its importation.
    NHTSA has accordingly decided to grant the petition.

Vehicle Eligibility Number for Subject Vehicles

    The importer of a vehicle admissible under any final decision must 
indicate on the form HS-7 accompanying entry the appropriate vehicle 
eligibility number indicating that the vehicle is eligible for entry. 
VSP 93 is the vehicle eligibility number assigned to vehicles 
admissible under this decision.

Final Determination

    Accordingly, on the basis of the foregoing, NHTSA hereby decides 
that a 1989 Audi 100 not originally manufactured to comply with all 
applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards is substantially 
similar to a 1989 Audi 100 originally manufactured for importation into 
and sale in the United States and certified under 49 U.S.C. 30115, and 
is capable of being readily altered to conform to all applicable 
Federal motor vehicle safety standards.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30141(a)(1)(A) and (b)(1); 49 CFR 593.8; 
delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

    Issued on: December 21, 1994.
William A. Boehly,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 94-31974 Filed 12-27-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-M

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