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Maserati S.p.A and Maserati North America, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Topics:  Maserati

Maserati S.p.A and Maserati North America, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
January 13, 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 8 (Wednesday, January 13, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1676-1678]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-00448]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0034; Notice 2]


Maserati S.p.A and Maserati North America, Inc., Grant of 
Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Grant of petition.

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SUMMARY: Maserati S.p.A and Maserati North America, Inc. (collectively 
``MNA'') have determined that certain model year (MY) 2011-2014 MNA 
passenger cars do not fully comply with paragraph S4.4(c)(2), of 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 138, Tire Pressure 
Monitoring Systems. MNA has filed a report dated March 3, 2014, 
pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility 
and Reports. MNA then petitioned NHTSA under 49 CFR part 556 requesting 
a decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor 
vehicle safety.

ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Kerrin 
Bressant, Office of Vehicles Safety Compliance, the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-1110, 
facsimile (202) 366-3081.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. MNA's Petition: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and 
the rule implementing those provisions at 49 CFR part 556, MNA 
submitted a petition 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 the petition was published, with a 30-day 
public comment period, on September 8, 2015 in the Federal Register (80 
FR 53912). 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-2014-0034.''
    II. Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 8,789 MY 2011-
2013 Maserati Quattroporte and MY 2011-2014 Maserati Granturismo and 
Granturismo Convertible passenger vehicles.
    III. Noncompliance: MNA explains that after the car's ignition is 
switched to the ON position, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) 
immediately seeks to confirm if all wheel sensors are present. When the 
TPMS first detects a sensor is missing, it illuminates the malfunction 
indicator as required by FMVSS No. 138. Upon subsequent ignition 
cycles, if the sensor detected as missing during the previous ignition 
cycle is still missing, the TPMS malfunction indicator will again 
illuminate as required and stay illuminated until the vehicle begins to 
move, at which time the indicator will extinguish. The extinguishment 
of the malfunction indicator while the malfunction still exists is in 
violation to paragraph S4.4(c)(2) of FMVSS No. 138. The malfunction 
indicator must illuminate when a malfunction is identified and remain 
illuminated as long as the condition exists.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S4.4(c)(2) of FMVSS No. 138 requires in 
pertinent part:

    S4.4 TPMS Malfunction.
* * * * *
    (c) Combination low tire pressure/TPMS malfunction telltale. The 
vehicle meets the requirements of S4.4(a) when equipped with a 
combined Low Tire Pressure/TPMS malfunction telltale that:
    (2) Flashes for a period of at least 60 seconds but no longer 
than 90 seconds upon detection of any condition specified in S4.4(a) 
after the ignition locking system is activated to the ``On'' 
(``Run'') position. After each period of prescribed flashing, the 
telltale must remain continuously illuminated as long as a 
malfunction exists and the ignition locking system is in the ``On'' 
(``Run'') position. This flashing and illumination sequence must be 
repeated each time the ignition locking system is placed in the 
``On'' (``Run'') position until the situation causing the 
malfunction has been corrected. . . .

    V. Summary of MNA's Analyses: MNA stated its belief that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for 
the following reasons:
    (A) MNA states that after the car's ignition is switched to the ON 
position, the TPMS immediately seeks to confirm if all wheel sensors 
are present. If the TPMS detects a sensor is not present, an internal 
timer is started. If the sensor detected as missing was also detected 
as missing during the previous ignition cycle, the TPMS malfunction 
indicator will illuminate as required to indicate a hardware fault is 
still present. If the engine is subsequently started again and left in 
its steady state (engine not cold) idle, the warning lamp will continue 
to remain illuminated as required. However, if the car is then driven, 
the warning lamp will extinguish. Once the vehicle has been moving 
above 22 mph for a period of 15 seconds, the TPMS will seek to confirm 
that all wheel sensors are fitted to the vehicle. If the internal timer 
reaches 160 seconds, and the vehicle has been moving above 22 mph for 
15 seconds, the TPMS malfunction indicator will illuminate correctly. 
Once the malfunction indicator is illuminated, it remains so throughout 
that ignition cycle, regardless of the vehicle's speed.
    (B) MNA explained that if the TPMS fails to detect the wheel 
sensors, the TPMS will display no value on the TPMS pressures screen 
for the tire pressure, indicating that the status of the wheel sensor 
is unconfirmed.
    (C) MNA said that the noncompliance is confined to one particular 
aspect of the functionality of the otherwise compliant TPMS malfunction 
indicator. All other aspects of the low-pressure monitoring system 
functionality are fully compliant with the requirements of FMVSS No. 
138. Also MNA stated that NHTSA had previously published a rule (April 
8, 2005) that said a malfunction, in and of itself, does not represent 
a safety risk to vehicle occupants and that the chances of having a 
TPMS malfunction and a significantly under-inflated tire at the same 
time are unlikely.
    (D) MNA said that NHTSA has previously granted petitions for 
inconsequential noncompliances related to the TPMS malfunction 
indicator not illuminating in the manner required by FMVSS No. 138 due 
to a software malfunction. MNA mentioned a grant to a petition 
submitted by Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. for Audi vehicles.\1\ 
MNA explained that in the Volkswagen case, the TPMS would initially 
display the required warning, but the telltale light would not stay 
illuminated in the manner required by FMVSS No. 138 in that the warning 
light would be extinguished on

[[Page 1677]]

subsequent drive cycles if the vehicle speed was maintained below 12.5 
mph.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ 76 FR 30239 (May 24, 2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (E) MNA stated that it is not aware of any customer complaints, 
field communications, incidents or injuries related to this condition.
    (F) MNA explained that it provides additional warnings through tire 
inflation and usage fitment information provided in the subject 
vehicles owner's manuals. In addition, customer calls into the Roadside 
Assistance and Customer Care department can also help provide specific 
wheel and tire fitment information to MNA customers. The Maserati 
Authorized Dealer network can also address this issue with Maserati 
customers.
    In summation, MNA believes that the described noncompliance of the 
subject vehicles is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that 
its petition, to exempt MNA 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.

NHTSA'S Decision

    NHTSA's Analysis: MNA explained that although the malfunction 
indicator extinguishes once the car starts moving, it will illuminate 
shortly thereafter--within 160 seconds of ignition start and after the 
vehicle speed exceeds 22 mph for 15 seconds.
    NHTSA agrees with MNA that the malfunction indicator will not 
illuminate as required only during very short periods of time when the 
vehicle is traveling at low speeds and thus poses little risk to 
vehicle safety. Under normal driving conditions, a driver will begin a 
trip by accelerating moderately beyond 22 mph, and as explained by MNA, 
once the vehicle accelerates above 22 mph (combined with the Ignition-
On internal clock reaching 160 seconds), the malfunction indicator re-
illuminates and then it will remain illuminated for the entire ignition 
cycle, regardless of vehicle speed. The telltale fails to re-illuminate 
only in the very rare case when the driver begins a trip and never 
exceeds the 22 mph threshold, the speed required to re-activate the 
malfunction indicator. No real safety risk exists because at such low 
speeds there is little risk of vehicle loss of control due to 
underinflated tires. Furthermore, the possibility that the vehicle will 
experience both a low inflation pressure condition and a malfunction 
simultaneously is highly unlikely.
    MNA stated that if the TPMS fails to detect the wheel sensors, the 
TPMS will display no value on the vehicle's central digital cluster for 
the associated tire pressure, indicating that the status of the wheel 
sensor is unconfirmed for a given wheel.
    The agency evaluated the displays MNA uses in the noncompliant 
vehicles. In addition to the combination low inflation pressure and 
malfunction telltale indicator lamp, the subject vehicles are equipped 
with a ``plan view'' icon which displays the pressures for all four 
wheels individually. If any wheel has a malfunctioning pressure sensor 
the indicator for that wheel displays several dashes ``--'' indicating 
the there is a problem with that respective wheel. The additional 
information is not required by the safety standard, but can be used as 
an aid to the driver to determine the status of a vehicle's tires.
    MNA discussed that the noncompliance only involves one specific 
aspect of the malfunction functionality and that the primary function 
of the TPMS, identification of other malfunctions and identification of 
low inflation pressure scenarios, is not affected.
    The agency agrees with MNA's reasoning that the primary function of 
the TPMS is to identify low inflation pressure conditions which MNA's 
system does as required by FMVSS No. 138.
    There are also a variety of other malfunctions that can occur in 
addition to the delayed re-illumination malfunction identified in this 
petition. NHTSA understands from MNA that its TPMS will perform as 
required during all other type system malfunctions.
    MNA additionally mentioned that NHTSA had previously granted 
petitions for inconsequential noncompliances pertaining to FMVSS No. 
138 and specifically mentioned Volkswagen's (VW) Audi petition.\2\ In 
the case of that petition, the Audi vehicle's TPMS would initially 
display the required warning, but the telltale would not stay 
illuminated in the manner required by FMVSS No. 138. The telltale light 
would extinguish on subsequent drive cycles if the vehicle speed was 
maintained below 12.5 mph. The MNA condition is similar to the VW 
condition because the malfunction telltales in both cases illuminate 
upon subsequent ignition cycles, but then extinguish at low speeds 
after the vehicles begin to move. Both conditions happen at relatively 
low speeds and for short durations of time. The VW petition was granted 
due to the fact that the noncompliance took place at relatively low 
speeds and for a short duration of time.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ 76 FR 30239 (May 24, 2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    MNA added that it also provides several warnings via the owner's 
manual text with regards to the TPMS and its proper usage. 
Specifically, tire inflation and usage fitment information is provided. 
A Roadside Assistance and a Customer Care department are additionally 
mentioned as resources for an owner with issues or concerns about 
proper tire inflation and/or tire usage fitment. The additional 
information provided inside the owner's manual, and via telephone for 
Roadside Assistance and the Customer Care Department offers the MNA 
owner ample opportunity to ensure their vehicle operates as designed.
    MNA also stated that they have not received or are aware of any 
consumer complaints, field communications, incidences or injuries 
related to this noncompliance.
    In addition to the analysis done by MNA that looked at customer 
complaints, field communications, incidents or injuries related to this 
condition, NHTSA also conducted checks of NHTSA's Office of Defects 
Investigations consumer complaint database and found no related 
complaints.
    NHTSA's Decision: In consideration of the foregoing analysis, NHTSA 
has decided that MNA has met its burden of demonstrating that the FMVSS 
No. 138 noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. 
Accordingly, MNA's petition is hereby granted and MNA is exempted from 
the obligation of providing notification of, and a free 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, any decision on 
this petition only applies to the subject vehicles that MNA no longer 
controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. 
However, any decision on 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 MNA 
notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.


[[Page 1678]]


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

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2016-00448 Filed 1-12-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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