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Nissan North America, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Nissan Titan

Nissan North America, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Claude H. Harris
Federal Highway Administration
May 14, 2013

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 93 (Tuesday, May 14, 2013)]
[Pages 28288-28289]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-11428]

[[Page 28288]]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0171; Notice 2]

Nissan North America, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Grant of Petition.


SUMMARY: Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan), has determined that 
certain model year 2008 through 2010 Nissan Titan trucks do not fully 
comply with the requirements of paragraph S19.2.2(b) of Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. 
Nissan has filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR Part 573, 
Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports, dated August 18, 
    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and the rule 
implementing those provision at 49 CFR Part 556, Nissan has petitioned 
for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 
U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety.
    Notice of receipt of Nissan's petition was published, with a 30 day 
public comment period, on December 21, 2010, in the Federal Register 
(75 FR 80109). No comments were received. To view the petition and all 
supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the online 
search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2008-0210.''
    Contact Information: For further information on this decision, 
contact Mr. Lawrence Valvo, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 
366-5359, facsimile (202) 366-7002.
    Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 102,254 model year 
2008 through 2010 Nissan Titan trucks that were manufactured from April 
10, 2007, through August 6, 2010.
    Summary of Nissan's Petition: Nissan states that the noncompliance 
is that the label identifying the amber air bag status telltale lamp 
for the front outboard passenger seating position is identified with 
the words ``PASSENGER AIR BAG'' instead of ``PASSENGER AIR BAG OFF.''
    Nissan believes the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor 
vehicle safety for the following reasons:
    1. The passenger air bag system on the subject vehicles operates as 
designed and automatically deactivates the passenger air bag when it is 
appropriate in accordance with the requirements in S19.2 of FMV55 No. 
208. That is, the system requires no input from the operator to perform 
its intended function. Further, the front passenger airbag status 
telltale operates correctly and illuminates when the passenger air bag 
is deactivated as required by the standard.
    2. The meaning of the air bag status telltale alone (without the 
identifying words) is unequivocal to the vehicle occupants. The 
telltale remains off when the passenger air bag is in the normal mode. 
When the passenger air bag is deactivated, the telltale is illuminated, 
showing an icon representing an air bag with an X drawn over it. This 
clearly represents a deactivated air bag. Nissan notes that in certain 
other markets, the telltale alone is deemed sufficient with no 
identifying words required next to the telltale. The identifying words 
``passenger side air bag'' (without the word ``OFF'') do not confuse 
the otherwise clear and readily apparent meaning of the telltale.
    3. Information provided in several locations in the vehicle owner's 
manual further reduces any possibility of operator confusion. If the 
meaning of telltale is unclear, the operator can refer to multiple 
explanations in the owner's manual.
    4. Telltale Function is also described in Quick Reference Guide.
    5. There have been no customer complaints, injuries, or accidents 
related to the word ``OFF'' missing from the label. Nissan has searched 
its databases and has found no cases of misunderstanding the telltale.
    6. Nissan conducted an informal survey at Nissan's National 
Headquarters Building in Franklin, Tennessee. The building houses 
mostly business personnel (sales marketing, finance) and not design 
engineers that would have special understanding of the air bag systems. 
As employees were approaching the building to begin their workday, they 
were asked to participate in a survey regarding the Titan and that the 
survey would take about 30 seconds of their time. The participants 
represented a good cross-section of the general population by age, 
gender and race. The subject Titan pickup truck was equipped with the 
required yellow passenger side air bag status telltale that contained 
the ``no air bag'' symbol, but did not display the word ``OFF''. The 
passenger air bag telltale was illuminated. Survey participants were 
asked to describe the meaning of the telltale. Sixty people 
participated in the survey. Of the sixty people, 58 responded correctly 
that the telltale indicated the passenger side airbag was in suppressed 
mode. The survey shows that people understand the meaning of the 
passenger air bag telltale even with the word ``OFF'' missing. We note 
also that adding the word ``OFF'' did not help the two respondents to 
understand the meaning of the telltale. They would have needed to 
consult the Owner's Manual. Nissan acknowledges that this was an ad hoc 
survey that may not meet rigid statistical standards, nevertheless, we 
believe it is predictive of the results that would be obtained from a 
larger, controlled survey.
    7. A decision to grant this petition would be consistent with 
arguably similar prior requests related to labeling issues. For 
example, NHTSA has previously granted petitions related to certain tire 
and tire placard labeling errors.
    Nissan also states that it has taken steps to correct the non-
compliance in future production.
    Supported by the above stated reasons, Nissan believes that the 
described FMVSS No. 208 noncompliance is inconsequential to motor 
vehicle safety, and that its petition, to exempt it from providing 
recall notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 
remedying the recall noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, 
should be granted.
    Discussion: Section S19.2.2 of FMVSS No. 208 specifically states:

    S19.2.2 The vehicle shall be equipped with at least one telltale 
which emits light whenever the passenger air bag system is 
deactivated and does not emit light whenever the passenger air bag 
system is activated, except that the telltale(s) need not illuminate 
when the passenger seat is unoccupied. Each telltale: * * *
    (b) Shall have the identifying words ``PASSENGER AIR BAG OFF'' 
or ``PASS AIR BAG OFF'' on the telltale or within 25 mm (1.0 in) of 
the telltale; and * * *

    NHTSA Decision: NHTSA has reviewed and accepts Nissan's analyses 
that the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. 
Nissan has provided sufficient documentation that the front passenger 
airbag suppression status telltale lamp does comply with all other 
safety performance requirements of the standard, except the labeling. 
If a vehicle owner needs an explanation of what the symbol means, they 
can reference the symbol in the Owners Manual or the Quick Reference 
Guide. In addition, NHTSA has reviewed all incoming complaints on the 

[[Page 28289]]

vehicles and found no complaints matching the subject noncompliance.
    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has determined that Nissan 
has met its burden of persuasion that the subject FMVSS No. 208 
telltale noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. 
Accordingly, Nissan's petition is hereby granted, and Nissan is 
exempted from the obligation of providing notification of, and a remedy 
for, the subject noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.
    NHTSA notes that the statutory provisions (49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h)) that permit manufacturers to file petitions for a 
determination of inconsequentiality allow NHTSA to exempt manufacturers 
only from the duties found in sections 30118 and 30120, respectively, 
to notify owners, purchasers, and dealers of a defect or noncompliance 
and to remedy the defect or noncompliance. Therefore, this decision 
only applies to approximately 102,254 vehicles that Nissan no longer 
controlled at the time that it determined that a noncompliance existed 
in the subject vehicles. However, the granting of this petition does 
not relieve vehicle distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the 
sale, offer for sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into 
interstate commerce of the noncompliant vehicles under their control 
after Nissan notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

    Authority:  (49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
CFR 1.95 and 501.8)

    Issued on: May 7, 2013.
Claude H. Harris,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2013-11428 Filed 5-13-13; 8:45 am]

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