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Excalibur Automobile Corporation; Receipt of Application for Temporary Exemption From Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Excalibur

Excalibur Automobile Corporation; Receipt of Application for Temporary Exemption From Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208

Barry Felrice
Federal Register
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
December 28, 1994

[Federal Register: December 28, 1994]


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. 94-100; Notice 1]

Excalibur Automobile Corporation; Receipt of Application for 
Temporary Exemption From Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208

    Excalibur Automobile Corporation of West Allis, Wisconsin, has 
applied for a temporary exemption of its JAC 427 Cobra passenger car 
for three years from compliance with paragraph S4.1.4 of Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208 Occupant Crash Protection. The basis of 
the application is that compliance would cause substantial economic 
hardship to a manufacturer that has tried to comply with the standard 
in good faith.
    Notice of receipt of the application is published in accordance 
with agency regulations on the subject (49 CFR part 555) and does not 
represent any judgment of the agency on the merits of the application.
    The applicant seeks an exemption for its JAC 427 Cobra passenger 
car, of which it has produced 59 between January 1993 and September 
1994. Thirty-six of these ``are presently in the control of Excalibur's 
dealers'', and the applicant asks that the exemption cover these 
vehicles so that they may be offered for sale and sold in compliance 
with the law. It plans increased production in 1995, of which 60 to 108 
would be sold in the United States.
    Excalibur is a small company with 37 employees and net assets of 
$3,000,000. The company has had cumulative net losses of $4,493,000 
from January 1, 1992 to September 30, 1994. If it were required to 
comply immediately with the automatic restraint requirements of 
Standard No. 208, it would have to raise the retail price by more than 
300 per cent which ``is likely to deemed (sic) to be prohibitive by 
potential purchasers (and dealers), thereby significantly reducing the 
line's desirability, if not ending the demand entirely . . . .'' Denial 
of the petition would result in a reduction of the work force to 8 
    Excalibur has been owned since 1991 by German residents, who 
changed the company's management in August 1994. The new management has 
not been able to trace the company's efforts to comply beyond December 
1993 when the then Vice President of Production informed the then 
President that he had ``just located a potential source for a retrofit 
driver's as well as passenger air bag system.'' Compliance was 
anticipated ``within weeks.'' NHTSA was likewise informed of this 
possibility in December 1993. On May 31, 1994, in an incomplete 
petition for exemption from Standard No. 208, Excalibur informed the 
agency that its efforts to work with companies in Arizona and Florida 
had ended in frustration and failure and that it was currently unable 
to find a source for an adequate, workable airbag system.
    According to its application, Excalibur will use the exemption 
period ``to accommodate a fully-complying airbag system.'' It is 
investigating the possibility of installing Ford Mustang steering 
columns and airbag systems, as well as whether its existing column 
could accept an airbag produced by Breed Technologies. Exempted 
vehicles would be provided with a three-point restraint system as well 
as with a ``clearly visible warning label reminding the vehicle's 
occupants of the importance of wearing their safety belts.
    The company argues that an exemption would be in the public 
interest and consistent with the objectives of motor vehicle safety 
because it presently has 17 dealers in 12 states, and ``a thriving 
manufacturing business and dealer network not only provides employment, 
but will generate federal and state tax revenues.'' The small number of 
vehicles that the exemption will cover and the limited mileage they 
will be driven ensure that an exemption ``will not materially affect 
overall motor vehicle safety in the U.S.''
    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the 
application described above. Comments should refer to the docket and 
notice number referenced above, and be submitted to: Docket Section, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, room 5109, 400 Seventh 
St. 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 
application will be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the 
authority indicated below.
    Comment closing date: January 27, 1995.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50 and 501.8.

    Issued on: December 21, 1994.
Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 94-31853 Filed 12-27-94; 8:45 am]

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