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General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Topics:  Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra

General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
10 January 2018


[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 7 (Wednesday, January 10, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1282-1284]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-00221]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2017-0097; Notice 1]


General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

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SUMMARY: General Motors, LLC (GM), has determined that the seat belt 
assemblies in certain model year (MY) 2017-2018 Chevrolet Silverado and 
GMC Sierra heavy duty motor vehicles do not fully comply with Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 209, Seat Belt Assemblies. GM 
filed a noncompliance report dated September 14, 2017, and amended it 
on September 22, 2017. GM also petitioned NHTSA on October 6, 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 February 9, 
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:
     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.

[[Page 1283]]

     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: GM has determined that the seat belt assemblies in 
certain MY 2017-2018 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy duty 
motor vehicles do not fully comply with paragraphs S4.4(b)(5) of FMVSS 
No. 209, Seat Belt Assemblies. GM filed a noncompliance report dated 
September 14, 2017, and amended it on September 22, 2017, pursuant to 
49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. 
GM also petitioned NHTSA on October 6, 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 GM 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 38,048 MY 2017-2018 Chevrolet 
Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy duty motor vehicles, manufactured 
between July 18, 2016, and August 7, 2017, are potentially involved.
    The double cab versions of the subject vehicles are not included in 
this petition.
    III. Noncompliance: GM explains that the noncompliance is that the 
subject vehicles were equipped with seat belt assemblies that do not 
conform to the upper-torso seat belt elongation requirements specified 
in paragraph S4.4(b)(5) of FMVSS No. 209. Specifically, the seat belt 
assemblies were built with load-limiting torsion bars measuring 9.5 mm 
on the driver side and 8.0 mm in diameter on the passenger side, 
instead of 12 mm as specified by GM.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S4.4(b)(5) of FMVSS No. 209 states, in 
pertinent part:

    S4.4 Requirements for assembly performance.
    . . .
    (b) Type 2 seat belt assembly. Except as provided in S4.5, the 
components of a Type 2 seat belt assembly including webbing, straps, 
buckles, adjustment and attachment hardware, and retractors shall 
comply with the following requirements when tested by the procedure 
specified in S5.3(b): . . .
    (5) The length of the upper torso restraint between anchorages 
shall not increase more than 508 mm when subjected to a force of 
11,120N. . . .

    V. Summary of GM's Petition: As background, GM stated that smaller 
diameter torsion bars are regularly used in retractor assemblies in 
full size trucks--including variants of the subject vehicles--that are 
subject to S5.1 of FMVSS No. 208, and thus exempt from S4.4(b)(5) of 
FMVSS No. 209. GM says this is because, when combined with a deploying 
frontal airbag, the seat belt retractors equipped with lower diameter 
torsion bars provide at least the same level of occupant protection in 
frontal crashes while optimizing belt force deflection characteristics. 
However, the subject vehicles were not certified to S5.1 of FMVSS No. 
208 and, accordingly, were not intended to be equipped with these 
smaller diameter torsion bars because they were required to meet the 
elongation requirements of S4.4(b)(5) of FMVSS No. 209
    GM 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, GM submitted the following reasoning:
    A. Testing data indicates that the Subject Vehicles Meet the Belted 
Frontal Crash Performance Testing Requirements of S5.1 of FMVSS No. 
208: GM has conducted dynamic frontal crash testing on 2500 series 
vehicles that were substantially similar to the subject vehicles and 
were equipped with the same load-limiting seat belt retractors with the 
lower-diameter torsion bars (the ``Tested Vehicles'').\1\ The tested 
vehicles comply with the belted frontal crash performance testing 
requirements under S5.1.1(a) of FMVSS No. 208.\2\ In fact, the tested 
vehicles performed below the injury assessment reference limits 
specified in S5.1.1(a) even when tested at 35 mph, which subjects the 
vehicle to 36% more energy than at the 30 mph testing standard provided 
in the regulation. The tested vehicles were also rated by NHTSA with an 
overall 4-Star NCAP score.
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    \1\ The subject vehicles and tested vehicles share the same 
frame, body structure, powertrains and under-hood crush space; 
instrument panel, steering column and wheel, seats, seat-belt 
anchorages, and general interior vehicle layout/spatial 
relationships; and driver and passenger frontal airbags. In similar 
configurations, the subject vehicles and test vehicles have similar 
mass.
    \2\ S5.1.1(a) of FMVSS No. 208 specifies the belted barrier test 
requirements for certain vehicles not certified to S14 of FMVSS No. 
208 (i.e. those with a GVW >8,500 lbs. or an unloaded weight >5,500 
lbs).
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    GM expects that the subject vehicles will perform nearly the same 
as the tested vehicles in dynamic frontal crash testing, and would 
therefore also meet all of the belted barrier test requirements 
specified by S5.1.1(a) of FMVSS No. 208.
    GM believes, consistent with NHTSA's past guidance,\3\ that the 
dynamic belted frontal barrier crash testing of S5.1.1(a) of FMVSS No. 
208 is a more appropriate means to evaluate occupant protection than 
the static seat belt elongation testing requirements of S4.4(B)(5) of 
FMVSS No. 209 for

[[Page 1284]]

vehicles with seat belts equipped with load limiters.
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    \3\ In its 1991 rulemaking modifying FMVSS No. 209 to exclude 
certain dynamically tested seat belts from some of the static seat-
belt testing requirements, NHTSA acknowledged that it ``has long 
believed it more appropriate to evaluate the occupant protection 
afforded by vehicles by conducting dynamic testing . . .'' versus 
static tests such as the elongation requirements in S4.4(b)(5) of 
FMVSS No. 209. Final Rule, 56 FR 15295, 15295 (April 16, 1991). 
Further, ``[s]ince the dynamic test measures the actual occupant 
protection which the belt provides during a crash, there is no 
apparent need to subject that belt to static testing procedures that 
are surrogate and less direct measures of the protection which the 
belt would provide to its occupant during a crash.'' Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, 55 FR 1681 (January 18, 1990) (emphasis added). 
NHTSA's rationale for creating these exemptions applies to the 
subject vehicles even though they may not all technically be 
``subject to'' S5.1 of FMVSS No. 208 and therefore exempt from FMVSS 
No. 209's elongation requirements.
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    B. GM believes the subject vehicles will provide no less protection 
to occupants in a frontal crash than vehicles equipped with seat belt 
retractors utilizing the 12 mm torsion bars: GM believes that replacing 
the retractors installed in the subject vehicles with retractors that 
have the larger torsion bars would not result in an added safety 
benefit to the occupants of these vehicles in frontal crashes. That is, 
the subject vehicles will provide no less occupant protection than 
vehicles built with the larger 12 mm diameter torsion bars that meet 
the elongation requirements of S4.4(b)(5) of FMVSS No. 209. Further, 
seat belt retractors equipped with the lower-diameter torsion bars may 
reduce upper torso injury potential in frontal crashes as compared to 
retractors with the larger-diameter torsion bars.
    C. NHTSA precedent supports granting this petition: NHTSA has 
previously ruled that failure to comply with certain of FMVSS No. 209's 
static testing requirements can be inconsequential to motor vehicle 
safety where the manufacturer demonstrates by dynamic testing that the 
noncompliant seat belt assembly preforms similarly to a compliant 
assembly. On May 3, 2002, GM submitted an inconsequentiality petition 
to NHTSA relating to certain trucks and SUV's that were built with 
damaged and inoperative ``vehicle-sensitive'' emergency-locking 
retractors (ELRs), which lock the seat belts under rapid deceleration. 
Notwithstanding the noncompliance with FMVSS No. 209 caused by this 
condition, GM asserted that the failure was inconsequential to vehicle 
safety because the ELRs in these vehicles also had a redundant 
``webbing-sensitive'' mechanism, which locks the belts when the webbing 
is rapidly extracted. GM presented dynamic testing data (including some 
data developed using the test procedures set forth in FMVSS No. 208) 
demonstrating that the webbing-sensitive system ``offered a level of 
protection nearly equivalent to that provided by a compliant ELR.''
    NHTSA granted GM's petition, in part, and ruled the noncompliance 
in certain of the vehicles subject to the petition was inconsequential 
to motor vehicle safety:

    [O]n the basis of the sled test and simulation data provided by 
GM, the agency has concluded that GM has adequately demonstrated 
that the potential safety consequences of the failure of the 
vehicle-sensitive locking mechanisms in the ELRs in the C/K vehicles 
to function properly are inconsequential. While the webbing-
sensitive systems in these vehicles do allow slightly increased belt 
payout compared to a functional vehicle-sensitive system, and lock 
slightly later in crash event, these differences do not appear to 
expose a vehicle occupant to a significantly greater risk of injury.

    General Motors Corporation, Ruling on Petition for Determination of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance, 69 FR 19897, 19900 (April 14, 2004). In 
its decision, NHTSA also noted specifically that ``the dummy injury 
measurements did not increase significantly and were well below the 
maximum values permitted under FMVSS No. 208.''
    Here, GM expects that the subject vehicles will provide no less 
protection to occupants in the designated seating positions in frontal 
crashes than vehicles equipped with seat belt retractors conforming to 
S4.4(b) of FMVSS No. 209.
    D. GM is not aware of any injuries or customer complaints 
associated with this condition: After searching VOQ, TREAD and internal 
GM databases, GM is not aware of any crashes, injuries, or customer 
complaints associated with this condition.
    E. GM has corrected the noncompliance in vehicle production and in 
service parts inventory: GM has corrected the noncompliance in 
production. Vehicles produced after August 7, 2017, have seat belt 
assemblies containing retractor torsion bars that meet GM's original 
specifications and comply with S4.4(b) of FMVSS No. 209. Retractor 
assemblies with this condition that were manufactured as service parts 
are no longer available for sale and all affected inventory has been 
purged. Any such seat belt assembly previously sold as service parts 
could only have been installed on a subject vehicle because these seat 
belt assemblies are not compatible with prior model year (i.e. 2015 or 
2016) versions of the Silverado or Sierra HD due to a different type of 
wiring connector used.
    GM 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.
    To view GM's petition, analyses, and test data in their entirety, 
you can visit https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online 
instructions for accessing the dockets and search for the docket ID 
number for this petition shown in the heading of this notice.
    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 GM 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 GM 
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,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2018-00221 Filed 1-9-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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