Home Page About Us Contribute

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk



Escort, Inc.





Tweets by @CrittendenAuto








GM Icons
By accessing/using The Crittenden Automotive Library/CarsAndRacingStuff.com, you signify your agreement with the Terms of Use on our Legal Information page. Our Privacy Policy is also available there.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Motorcycles Topics:  Lexus RX350, Lexus RX450h

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
7 April 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 66 (Friday, April 7, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17076-17079]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-06955]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0127; Notice 1]


Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., 
Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., 
on behalf of Toyota Motor Corporation (collectively referred to as 
``Toyota''), has determined that certain model year (MY) 2016-2017 
Lexus RX350 and RX450H motor vehicles do not fully comply with Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, Flammability of Interior 
Materials. Toyota filed a noncompliance information report dated 
November 3, 2016. Toyota also petitioned NHTSA on

[[Page 17077]]

November 23, 2016, and provided a supplement to their petition on 
December 12, 2016, for a decision that the subject noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.

DATES: The closing date for comments on the petition is May 8, 2017.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written data, 
views, and arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the 
docket and notice number cited in the title of this notice and 
submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: Deliver comments by hand to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. The 
Docket Section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 
Federal Holidays.
     Electronically: Submit comments electronically by logging 
onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Comments may also be faxed to (202) 493-2251.
    Comments must be written in the English language, and be no greater 
than 15 pages in length, although there is no limit to the length of 
necessary attachments to the comments. If comments are submitted in 
hard copy form, please ensure that two copies are provided. If you wish 
to receive confirmation that comments you have submitted by mail were 
received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the 
comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change 
to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.
    All comments and supporting materials received before the close of 
business on the closing date indicated above will be filed in the 
docket and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials 
received after the closing date will also be filed and will be 
considered to the fullest extent possible.
    When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will 
also be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority 
indicated at the end of this notice.
    All comments, background documentation, and supporting materials 
submitted to the docket may be viewed by anyone at the address and 
times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the Internet at 
https://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for 
accessing the dockets. The docket ID number for this petition is shown 
in the heading of this notice.
    DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available for review in a 
Federal Register notice published on April 11, 2000, (65 FR 19477-78).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. Overview: Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota), has determined that 
certain model year (MY) 2016-2017 Lexus RX350 and Lexus RX450H motor 
vehicles do not fully comply with paragraph S4.2 of Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, Flammability of Interior 
Materials. Toyota filed a noncompliance information report dated 
November 3, 2016, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance 
Responsibility and Reports. Toyota also petitioned NHTSA on November 
23, 2016, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 
556, for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 
49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    This notice of receipt of Toyota's petition is published under 49 
U.S.C. 30118 and 30120 and does not represent any agency decision or 
other exercise of judgment concerning the merits of the petition.
    II. Vehicles Involved: Approximately 102,075 MY 2016-2017 Lexus 
RX350 and Lexus RX450H motor vehicles manufactured between September 
29, 2015 and October 21, 2016, are potentially involved.
    III. Noncompliance: Toyota explains that the noncompliance is that 
the front and rear seat covers and rear center armrest assemblies in 
the subject vehicles were manufactured with needle punch felt material 
that does not meet the burn rate requirements as specified in paragraph 
S4.2 and S4.3 of FMVSS No. 302.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S4.2 of FMVSS No. 302 states:

    S4.2 Any portion of a single or composite material which is 
within 13 mm of the occupant compartment air space shall meet the 
requirements of S4.3.

    Paragraph S4.3(a) of FMVSS No. 302 states:

    When tested in accordance with S5, material described in S4.1 
and S4.2 shall not burn, nor transmit a flame front across its 
surface, at a rate of more than 102 mm per minute. The requirement 
concerning transmission of a flame front shall not apply to a 
surface created by cutting a test specimen for purposes of testing 
pursuant to S5.

    V. Summary of Toyota's Petition: Toyota described the subject 
noncompliance and stated its belief that the noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    In support of its petition, Toyota submitted the following 
reasoning:
    1. The front and rear seats in the subject vehicles are constructed 
of several layers of soft material mounted on a steel seat frame. The 
layers of soft material include a leather or synthetic leather seating 
surface with a cover pad laminated or laminated and sewn underneath, 
and a needle punch felt material attached to a seat cushion foam pad. 
The needle punch felt material is used to attach the cover subassembly 
to the foam pad. The needle punch felt is the only material that does 
not comply with FMVSS No. 302 requirements. It comprises up to 
approximately 0.32% of the total mass of the soft material of the front 
seat assembly, and between 0.48% and 0.55% of the total mass of the 
soft material of the rear seat assembly, an insignificant mass in 
relation to the total interior vehicle surfaces required to meet FMVSS 
No. 302.
    2. The needle punch felt material complies with FMVSS No. 302 when 
tested as a ``composite'' as installed in the vehicle, i.e., along with 
the surrounding FMVSS No. 302 compliant seat cover, cover pad, foam 
pad, seat heater, carpet, and storage bin.
    3. Toyota testing and design review of the seat heater and its 
components indicate that the chance of fire or flame induced by a 
malfunctioning seat heater is essentially zero.
    4. The non-complying needle punch felt material would normally not 
be exposed to open flame or an ignition source (like matches or 
cigarettes) in its installed application, because it is installed 
within or completely covered by complying materials that meet FMVSs No. 
302.
    5. The needle punch felt material is a very small portion of the 
overall mass of the soft material portions comprising the entire seat 
assembly and is significantly less in relation to the entire vehicle 
interior surface area that could potentially be exposed to flame. 
Therefore, it would have an insignificant adverse effect on interior 
material burn rate and the potential for occupant injury due to 
interior fire.
    6. Toyota is not aware of any data suggesting that fires have 
occurred in the field due to the installation of the

[[Page 17078]]

non-complying needle punch felt material.
    7. In similar situations, NHTSA has granted petitions for 
inconsequential noncompliance relating to FMVSS No. 302 requirements.
    8. To emulate the potential real world conditions that could occur 
to the relevant soft material portions of the front and rear seats as 
they are assembled into the subject vehicles, Toyota conducted FMVSS 
No. 302 burn testing of the seating materials when assembled as a 
``composite.'' Toyota chose locations to evaluate that were judged to 
potentially be the least flame resistant so as to be the most 
conservative in determining material performance.
    Toyota determined synthetic leather to be the least flame resistant 
surface material to test based on review of the material construction 
as well as ``composite'' FMVSS No. 302 evaluations performed on the 
cover subassembly itself. Natural leather made from cow skin contains 
collagen fibers which are a non-flammable material. Synthetic leather 
is constructed of flammable urethane resin and polyester fibers which 
are treated with a flame retardant to achieve flammability 
requirements.
    To identify the potentially least flame resistant ``composite'' 
sample locations to evaluate Toyota did a thorough design review and 
``composite'' testing of the cover assemblies according to FMVSS No. 
302 procedures. Toyota tested the cover subassembly for the seat back 
and cushions at 21 different locations where needle punch felt is used. 
All locations met FMVSS No. 302 criteria; however, the three locations 
with the fastest burn rate were selected for further testing as 
assembled in the subject vehicles. These locations were tested under 
various conditions to simulate open flame exposure inside the vehicle. 
The samples were tested in their installed condition; however, in 
locations where the seat foam is part of the ``composite,'' only the 
portion which is within the 13 mm of the occupant airspace specified by 
the standard was tested. When applicable, the seat heater was included 
in the ``composite'' in its ``OFF'' condition.
    a. ``Composite'' Test Results: Toyota provided test results under 
eight different test conditions. In all test conditions, the samples 
exhibited burn rates well within the FMVSS No. 302 S4.3(a) requirements 
(i.e., no more than 102 mm/min), therefore meeting the FMVSS No. 302 
criteria. Toyota provided the following table summarizing the test 
results.
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN07AP17.003

BILLING CODE 4910-59-C
    As evidenced by testing in the table above, the needle punch felt 
material complies with FMVSS No. 302 when tested as a ``Composite'' as 
installed in the vehicle, i.e., along with the surrounding FMVSS No. 
302 compliant cover sub-assembly parts, foam pad, seat heater, or 
storage bin. The non-complying needle punch felt material would not be 
exposed to open flame or an ignition source (like matches or 
cigarettes) in its installed application, because it is within or 
completely covered by complying materials that meet FMVSS No. 302. 
Given that the purpose of FMVSS No. 302 is to ``reduce the deaths and 
injuries to motor vehicle occupants caused by vehicle fires, especially 
those originating in the interior of the vehicle from sources such as 
matches or cigarettes,'' we believe that the noncompliant needle punch 
felt material as installed in the vehicle does not present a safety 
risk, and the chance of fire or flame propagation is essentially zero.
    9. In order to evaluate any potential risk associated with the seat 
heater element as an internal ignition source, a design review and 
tests were conducted. The findings of the review and tests are outlined 
below:
    a. In all locations, the needle punch felt material never comes in 
direct contact with a seat heater element wire.
    b. The seat heater system has a self-diagnosis function. At 
ignition ``ON'' a system self-diagnosis check is performed to confirm 
that the switch, which consists of a relay and an IPD (intelligent 
Power Device), is operating properly. If the diagnosis detects a fault 
in the relay and/or the IPD, the system would not allow the seat heater 
to be turned on. In the unlikely event both the relay and the IPD fail 
and are stuck in the open position after the self-diagnosis, each seat 
heater's temperature is still regulated by its

[[Page 17079]]

thermostat. Under normal design operating conditions, the thermostat 
restricts the temperature of the element wire in a range of 
approximately 50 [deg]C to 100 [deg]C, depending on the specific 
application. This temperature range is far below the auto-ignition 
temperature of the needle punch felt, which is approximately 253 
[deg]C.
    c. The seat heater element wire used in the subject vehicle is of a 
design which eliminates the potential for localized ``hot spots.'' The 
heating element wire is comprised of multiple individual filaments 
insulated from each other by urethane coating. The filaments are 
connected to each other in parallel rather than in series. In the event 
that one or more of the filaments are damaged, there is no change in 
current through the seat heater wire, and therefore no increase in 
temperature.
    Given the findings from the evaluation of the seat heater and its 
components, Toyota believes that the chance of an ignition internal to 
the seat induced by a malfunctioning seat heater is essentially zero, 
and no safety risk is presented.
    10. The needle punch felt material is one of several layers of the 
soft material of the seats which is used for securing components 
together, improving appearance, and reducing noise. For all seating 
areas the needle punch felt material is either encased between or 
covered by other materials which themselves comply with FMVSS No. 302 
requirements.
    In the vast majority of applications, the needle punch is encased 
by other FMVSS No. 302 materials. A typical construction consists of 
the leather seating surface on which an occupant sits. A cover pad is 
glued to the underside of the leather. The cover and cover pad each 
comply with FMVSS No. 302. The needle punch felt is sewn to the cover 
pad assembly, and when so equipped, a layer of seat heater material is 
attached to the underside, forming a cover sub-assembly. The seat 
heater complies with FMVSS No. 302 requirements. The cover sub-assembly 
is then tightly secured over the seat cushion pad foam or seat back pad 
foam to the seat structure with ``hog'' rings. The seat cushion and 
seat back foam each comply with FMVSS No. 302 requirements. When so 
secured, no portion of the needle punch felt material is visible or 
directly exposed to the occupant compartment. As constructed, it would 
be highly unlikely that the needle punch felt material would ever be 
exposed to ignition sources such as matches or cigarettes, identified 
in S2 of FMVSS No. 302 as a stated purpose of the standard. Because the 
needle punch felt is completely surrounded by FMVSS No. 302 compliant 
material, it would be extremely unlikely that a vehicle occupant would 
ever be exposed to a risk of injury as a result of the noncompliance . 
. .
    11. The needle punch felt material is only a very small part of the 
overall mass of the soft material comprising the entire seat assembly 
(i.e. up to a maximum of 0.55% depending on the seat and vehicle 
model), and is significantly less in relation to the entire vehicle 
interior surface area that could potentially be exposed to flame. 
Therefore, it would have an insignificant adverse effect on interior 
material burn rate and the potential for occupant injury due to 
interior fire.
    12. There are no known field events involving ignition of the 
needle punch felt material as of November 22, 2016. Toyota is not aware 
of any fires, crashes, injuries or customer complaints involving this 
component in the subject vehicles.
    13. NHTSA has previously granted at least nine FMVSS No. 302 
petitions for inconsequential noncompliance, one of which was for a 
vehicle's seat heater assemblies, one of which was for a vehicle's 
console armrest, one of which was for large truck sleeper bedding, and 
six of which were for issues related to child restraints. (For a full 
list along with summaries of the petitions that Toyota references 
please see Toyota's petition)
    Toyota stated that they have made improvements that were 
implemented as of October 21, 2016, to assure that any new vehicle sold 
by Toyota will meet all FMVSS No. 302 requirements.
    Toyota concluded by expressing the belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, 
and that its petition to be exempted from providing notification of the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and a remedy for the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, should be granted.
    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 Toyota 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 Toyota 
notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

    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. 2017-06955 Filed 4-6-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library

The Crittenden Automotive Library on Facebook The Crittenden Automotive Library on Instagram The Crittenden Automotive Library at The Internet Archive The Crittenden Automotive Library on Pinterest The Crittenden Automotive Library on Twitter The Crittenden Automotive Library on Tumblr


The Crittenden Automotive Library

Home Page    About Us    Contribute