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U.S. Electricar, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Renewal of Temporary Exemption From Five Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  U.S. Electricar, Inc.

U.S. Electricar, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Renewal of Temporary Exemption From Five Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Barry Felrice
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Federal Register
May 25, 1994

[Federal Register: May 25, 1994]


[Docket No. 91-61; Notice 3]

U.S. Electricar, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Renewal of 
Temporary Exemption From Five Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

    U.S. Electricar Corporation of Sebastopol, California, has 
petitioned for renewal of NHTSA Temporary Exemption No. 92-3 from five 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (see 57 FR 30997). At the time 
the exemption was granted, the petitioner was known as Solar Electric 
Engineering, Inc. As of the date of its petition, 70 vehicles had been 
sold under the Exemption.
    Exemption No. 93-2 expires on June 1, 1994. The petition for 
renewal of the exemption was received on March 31, 1994. In accordance 
with agency regulations, when a petition for renewal has been filed not 
later than 60 days before the termination date of an exemption, the 
exemption does not terminate until the Administrator grants or denies 
the petition for renewal (49 CFR 555.8(e)).
    Notice of receipt of the petition is published in accordance with 
agency regulations on the subject and does not represent any judgment 
of the agency on the merits of the petition (49 CFR 555.7(a)).
    The basis of U.S. Electricar's original petition and its petition 
for renewal is that a temporary exemption would facilitate the 
development and field evaluation of a low emission motor vehicle. 
Renewal is sought for the same portions of the same five standards as 
are covered by the original exemption. These are paragraphs S4.2 and 
S4.3 of Standard No. 103 Windshield Defrosting and Defogging Systems, 
``the service brake requirements of S5.1 and the parking brake 
performance requirements of S5.2'' of Standard No. 105 Hydraulic brake 
Systems, paragraph S3.3 of Standard No. 201 Occupant Protection in 
Interior Impact, Standard No. 204 Steering Control Rearward 
Displacement, and paragraphs S4.1.4.1 and S4.2.2 of Standard No. 208 
Occupant Crash Protection.
    Under the original exemption, petitioner converted Ford Escorts, 
Chevrolet S-10 pickup trucks ``and other FMVSS-compliant vehicles'' to 
electric power. It has now substituted conversions of Geo Prizm sedans 
for Ford Escorts. Although the vehicles to be converted are certified 
by their original manufacturers to conform to all applicable Federal 
motor vehicle safety standards, the modifications that Electricar 
performs add weight to the converted vehicle and may affect its 
compliance with the standards. Until it has satisfied itself that the 
conversions conform, petitioner has requested appropriate exemptions. 
The modifications that petitioner performs include removal of the 
internal combustion engine and fuel system modification or replacement 
of the transmission and installation of an electric propulsion system 
and battery pack. Springs, shock absorbers, tires and other components 
are removed and replaced with new, heavier-duty equipment as required 
to accommodate the weight of the battery pack added to the vehicle. An 
electric heater defroster is installed and an electric vacuum pump for 
the vacuum-assisted brake system is added to the vehicle.
    The electric vacuum pump is intended to improve brake performance 
and has been developed during the term of the current exemption. 
Petitioner has also implemented a ``Safety Development Program'' using 
vehicle crashworthiness computer simulation and physical testing. 
Preliminary results from a frontal barrier crash test of the S-10 
conversion indication compliance with Standard No. 208 under these 
conditions ``without ejection of batteries or spillage of battery 
electrolyte.'' The company has also been field testing an electrical 
safety system which ``ensures that the primary battery pack remains 
electrically isolated from the vehicle chassis, and de-energizes the 
system'' if the condition is violated.
    Electricar asserts that an exemption would not unreasonably degrade 
motor vehicle safety as electric vehicles are intended for urban use 
and are therefore generally operated at lower speeds. Under a renewed 
exemption the company will continue its safety development and field 
evaluations with a view to ensuring that its vehicles fully comply 
before the end of the renewed exemption period.
    Finally, the petitioner argues that renewal of the exemption would 
be in the public interest and consistent with the objectives of the 
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Its vehicles reduce air 
pollution at street level and lessen the dependence of the United 
States on importation of petroleum.
    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the petition 
described above. Comments should refer to the Docket number and be 
submitted to: Docket Section, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, room 5109, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 
20590. It is requested but not required that 10 copies be submitted.
    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated below 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. Notice of final action on the 
petition will be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the 
authority indicated below.
    Comment closing date: June 24, 1994.

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1410; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50 and 501.8
    Issued on: May 19, 1994.
Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 94-12785 Filed 5-24-94; 8:45 am]

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