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Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Topics:  Volkswagen Routan

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Claudia Covell
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
21 March 2018


[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 55 (Wednesday, March 21, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12458-12460]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05689]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2017-0100; Notice 1]


Volkswagen Group of 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.

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SUMMARY: Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen), has determined 
that certain seat belt assemblies that it sold to its dealers as 
replacement equipment for certain model year (MY) 2009-2014 Volkswagen 
Routan motor vehicles do not fully comply with Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 209, Seat Belt Assemblies. Volkswagen filed 
a noncompliance report dated November 8, 2017. Volkswagen then 
petitioned NHTSA on November 29, 2017, 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 April 20, 2018.

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:

[[Page 12459]]

     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) website 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: Volkswagen has determined that certain seat belt 
assemblies that it sold to its dealers as replacement equipment for 
certain MY 2009-2014 Volkswagen Routan motor vehicles do not fully 
comply with paragraphs S4.1(k) and S4.1(l) of FMVSS No. 209, Seat Belt 
Assemblies (49 CFR 571.209). Volkswagen filed a noncompliance report 
dated November 8, 2017, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and 
Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. Volkswagen also petitioned 
NHTSA on November 29, 2017, 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 Volkswagen 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. Equipment Involved: Approximately 1,900 replacement seat belt 
assemblies manufactured between June 25, 2008, and October 25, 2013 for 
installation in certain MY 2009-2014 Volkswagen Routan motor vehicles.
    III. Noncompliance: Volkswagen explains that the noncompliance 
involves seat belt assemblies sourced to Volkswagen by FCA US LLC for 
use or for subsequent resale to dealership customers for use in the 
subject vehicles. Specifically, these seat belt assemblies were sold 
without the proper inclusion of the ``I-Sheets'' (i.e., ``Installation 
instructions'' and ``Usage and maintenance instructions''), and 
therefore, do not meet all applicable requirements specified in 
paragraphs S4.1(k) and 4.1(l) of FMVSS No. 209.
    IV. Rule Requirements: Paragraph S4.1(k) and S4.1(l) of FMVSS No. 
209 includes the requirements relevant to this petition:
     A seat belt assembly, other than a seat belt assembly 
installed in a motor vehicle by an automobile manufacturer, shall be 
accompanied by an instruction sheet providing sufficient information 
for installing the assembly in a motor vehicle.
     The installation instructions shall state whether the 
assembly is for universal installation or for installation only in 
specifically stated motor vehicles, and shall include at least those 
items specified in SAE Recommended Practice J800c (1973) (incorporated 
by reference, see Sec.  571.5).
     If the assembly is for use only in specifically stated 
motor vehicles, the assembly shall either be permanently and legibly 
marked or labeled with the following statement, or the instruction 
sheet shall include the following statement:
    [cir] This seat belt assembly is for use only in [insert specific 
seating position(s), e.g., ``front right''] in [insert specific vehicle 
make(s) and model(s)].
     A seat belt assembly or retractor shall be accompanied by 
written instructions for the proper use of the assembly, stressing 
particularly the importance of wearing the assembly snugly and properly 
located on the body, and on the maintenance of the assembly and 
periodic inspection of all components.
     The instructions shall show the proper manner of threading 
webbing in the hardware of seat belt assemblies in which the webbing is 
not permanently fastened. Instructions for a nonlocking retractor shall 
include a caution that the webbing must be fully extended from the 
retractor during use of the seat belt assembly unless the retractor is 
attached to the free end of webbing which is not subjected to any 
tension during restraint of an occupant by the assembly. Instructions 
for Type 2a shoulder belt shall include a warning that the shoulder 
belt is not to be used without a lap belt.
    V. Summary of Volkswagen's Petition: Volkswagen 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, Volkswagen submitted the following 
reasoning:
    1. Seat belts currently sold by Volkswagen to its dealers are only 
for installation as replacement seat belts in specific seating 
positions in Volkswagen Routan vehicles and are identified by part 
number in the parts catalogue for use in specific vehicle models and 
seat positions. This method of identification and the physical 
differences between belt retractors and attachment hardware, as well as 
the vehicle installation environment, preclude the misinstallation of 
seat belt assemblies.
    2. Seat belt assembly installation instructions are included in 
Volkswagen Service Manuals and are available to independent repair 
shops and individual owners who can also purchase the Service Manual or 
seek dealer assistance and obtain copies of the instructions, if 
necessary. In most cases, reference to the installation instructions 
will not be necessary because the seat belt installation will be to 
replace an existing belt and the installation procedure will just be 
the reverse of the removal procedure.
    3. Seat belt use instructions regarding proper seat belt 
positioning on the body

[[Page 12460]]

and proper maintenance and periodic inspection for damage, are and have 
been included in all Volkswagen owners' manuals.
    4. Volkswagen has developed installation and use instructions for 
replacement seat belt assemblies. This material is being placed into 
the packages of seat belts currently in Volkswagen's Parts Distribution 
Centers and will be included with all seat belt assemblies shipped to 
Volkswagen for resale to dealers in the future.
    5. Volkswagen is not aware of owner complaints or field incident 
reports relating to the lack of installation and use instructions with 
replacement seat belt assemblies.
    Volkswagen stated that NHTSA has previously granted similar 
petitions for noncompliance with seat belt assembly installation and 
usage instruction standards. See Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. 
(77 FR 24762, April 25, 2012); Bentley Motors, Inc. (75 FR 35877, 
September 20, 2011); Hyundai Motor Company (73 FR 49238, March 2, 
2009); Ford Motor Company (73 FR 11462, March 3, 2008); Mazda North 
America Operations (73 FR 11464, March 3, 2008); Ford Motor Company (73 
FR 63051, October 22, 2008); and TRW, Inc. (58 FR 7171, February 4, 
1993).
    Volkswagen also stated that they have made process changes to 
ensure that hard copies of the instructions will be included with all 
Volkswagen service seat belt assemblies shipped to its dealers.
    Volkswagen 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 Volkswagen 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 
Volkswagen 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)

Claudia Covell,
Acting Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2018-05689 Filed 3-20-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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