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


American Government Topics:  Volkswagen

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

Michael A. Cole
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
6 March 2019


[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 44 (Wednesday, March 6, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 8151-8153]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-03574]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2017-0020; Notice 2]


Volkswagen Group of 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: Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (Volkswagen), has determined 
that certain model year (MY) 2012-2017 Volkswagen motor vehicles do not 
fully comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 
126, Electronic Stability Control Systems for Light Vehicles. 
Volkswagen filed a noncompliance report dated March 1, 2017, and later 
revised it on December 21, 2017. Volkswagen also petitioned NHTSA on 
March 2, 2017, and amended the petition on December 21, 2017, for a 
decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it 
relates to motor vehicle safety. This document announces the grant of 
this petition.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Vince Williams, Office of Vehicle 
Safety Compliance, NHTSA, telephone (202) 366-2319, facsimile (202) 
366-3081.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. Overview: Volkswagen, has determined that certain MY 2012-2017 
Volkswagen motor vehicles do not fully comply with paragraph S5.3.3 of

[[Page 8152]]

FMVSS No. 126, Electronic Stability Control Systems for Light Vehicles 
(49 CFR 571.126). Volkswagen filed a noncompliance report dated March 
1, 2017, and later revised it on December 21, 2017, pursuant to 49 CFR 
part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. 
Volkswagen also petitioned NHTSA on March 2, 2017, and amended the 
petition on December 21, 2017, 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, 
pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556.
    Notice of receipt of the petition was published with a 30-day 
public comment period, on May 18, 2017, in the Federal Register (82 FR 
22869). No comments were received. To view the petition and all 
supporting documents, log onto the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) website at: https://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the online 
search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2017-0020.''
    II. Vehicles Involved: Approximately 53,911 MY 2013-2017 Volkswagen 
CC motor vehicles, manufactured between January 19, 2012, and November 
28, 2016, and approximately 176,547 MY 2012-2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 
motor vehicles, manufactured between January 9, 2012, and February 28, 
2017, are potentially involved.
    Volkswagen revised its noncompliance report and amended its 
petition on December 21, 2017, to include approximately 12,541 MY 2015-
2017 Audi Q3 motor vehicles, manufactured between April 16, 2014, and 
June 25, 2015, thus, bringing the new total of potentially affected 
vehicles to 242,999.
    III. Noncompliance: Volkswagen explains that during an electronic 
stability control (ESC) malfunction in the subject vehicles, the ESC 
system malfunction telltale illuminates as required by FMVSS No. 126 
unless the steering angle sensor is the source of the malfunction. In 
the instance of a steering angle sensor malfunction, the ESC system 
malfunction telltale does not re-illuminate immediately after the 
vehicle ignition is reactivated, as required by paragraph S5.3.3 of 
FMVSS No. 126. Specifically, the ESC system malfunction telltale will 
only re-illuminate after the vehicle reaches a speed of 1.2 mph and 
will remain continuously illuminated thereafter as required by FMVSS 
No. 126 for the rest of the ignition cycle regardless of vehicle speed.
    IV. Rule Requirements: Paragraph S5.3.3 of FMVSS No. 126, includes 
the requirements that, subject to the exceptions not relevant to this 
petition, the ESC malfunction telltale must illuminate when an ESC 
malfunction exists and must remain continuously illuminated as long as 
the malfunction exists whenever the ignition locking system is in the 
``On'' position.
    V. Summary of Volkswagen's Petition: Volkswagen stated that the 
condition described above is inconsequential as it relates to motor 
vehicle safety because the warning (ESC system malfunction telltale) 
immediately re-illuminates when the vehicle starts to move and reaches 
2 km/h or 1.2 mph.
    Furthermore, Volkswagen explained that the condition is limited to 
an ESC system fault caused by the steering angle sensor. For all other 
potential ESC system faults, the ESC system malfunction telltale 
illuminates as required with the next ignition key in the ``On'' 
(``Run'') position.
    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.
    Volkswagen's petition analyses and supporting documents are 
available by logging onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) 
website at https://www.regulations.gov and following the online search 
instructions to locate the docket number listed in the heading of this 
notice.
    NHTSA's Analysis: NHTSA has reviewed Volkswagen's analyses that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. 
Specifically, in the instance of a steering angle sensor malfunction, 
the ESC system malfunction telltale does not re-illuminate immediately 
after the vehicle ignition is reactivated as required by paragraph 
S5.3.3 of FMVSS No. 126.
    Volkswagen explained that the ESC system malfunction telltale does 
not re-illuminate when the ignition is reactivated as required, 
however, it does illuminate immediately when the vehicle starts to move 
and reaches 2 km/h or 1.2 mph. Volkswagen stated that this specific 
condition is limited only to a malfunction caused by the steering angle 
sensor and that for all other potential ESC system malfunctions, the 
telltale illuminates as required when the ignition locking system is in 
the ``On'' (``Run'') position.
    On March 28, 2017, and November 16, 2017, NHTSA contacted 
Volkswagen to request additional information regarding the behavior of 
the ESC system malfunction telltale. In response to those requests, 
Volkswagen explained that these vehicles were originally designed with 
the 2km/h (1.2 mph) threshold to prevent nuisance ESC system 
malfunction telltale activations during steering component workshop 
troubleshooting and repairs. Volkswagen clarified that during 
subsequent ignition cycles, the ESC system malfunction telltale on 
these vehicles illuminates after the vehicle speed reaches 2 km/h or 
1.2 mph and stays illuminated for the entire ignition cycle regardless 
of vehicle speed (i.e., even if the vehicle speeds falls back down 
below 2 km/h or 1.2 mph). Volkswagen added that these vehicles are also 
equipped with a separate Electronic Power Steering (EPS) warning light, 
on the dashboard in clear view of the driver, that illuminates when the 
steering angle sensor malfunctions, and is illuminated during the 
period of time the ESC malfunction telltale is required to illuminate 
but does not.
    The agency believes that the subject noncompliance poses no 
significant risk to motor vehicle safety as discussed below. If the 
vehicle is in operation when a steering angle sensor malfunction first 
occurs, the ESC malfunction telltale will illuminate and stay 
illuminated as required by the standard until the vehicle's ignition is 
turned off. It is only upon re-activation of the ignition system that 
the malfunction telltale does not re-illuminate immediately but then 
does so very quickly when the vehicle begins to move. After the 
telltale does re-illuminate, it remains illuminated, regardless of 
vehicle speed, until the malfunction is corrected or the ignition is 
deactivated once again. The ESC malfunction telltale will not 
illuminate for very short periods of time, between when the ignition is 
activated and the vehicle reaches a speed of 2 km/h. If this condition 
ever occurs, it will take place for a very short duration of time at 
very low speeds, conditions under which a vehicle loss of control due 
to instabilities that require the ESC system to activate will not 
occur.
    Finally, Volkswagen did mention that these vehicles are also 
equipped with a separate EPS warning light that when activated is on 
the dashboard in clear view of the driver. The symbol used for the EPS 
telltale is a vehicle's steering wheel. This telltale will illuminate 
when the steering angle sensor malfunctions, and is illuminated during

[[Page 8153]]

the period-of-time the ESC malfunction telltale is required to 
illuminate but does not.
    NHTSA's Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA finds 
that Volkswagen has met its burden of persuasion that the FMVSS No. 126 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety. 
Accordingly, Volkswagen's petition is hereby granted and Volkswagen is 
consequently exempted from the obligation to provide notification of, 
and a free remedy for, that 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 the subject vehicles that Volkswagen no longer 
controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. 
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 
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.

Michael A. Cole,
Acting Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2019-03574 Filed 3-5-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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