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Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Otto G. Matheke III
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
18 September 2020


[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 182 (Friday, September 18, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 58425-58427]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-20661]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2020-0065; Notice 1]


Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, 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: Mercedes-Benz AG (``MBAG'') and Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, 
(``MBUSA'') (collectively, ``Mercedes-Benz'') have determined that 
certain model year (MY) 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 motor vehicles do 
not fully comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 
111, Rear Visibility. Mercedes-Benz filed a noncompliance report dated 
May 11, 2020. Mercedes-Benz subsequently petitioned NHTSA on June 3, 
2020, for a decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential 
as it relates to motor vehicle safety. This notice announces receipt of 
Mercedes-Benz's petition.

DATES: Send comments on or before October 19, 2020.

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 the 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 the 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 for 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 docket. 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: Mercedes-Benz has determined that certain MY 2020 
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 motor vehicles do not fully comply with the 
requirements of paragraph S.5.5.1 of FMVSS No. 111, Rear Visibility (49 
CFR 571.111). Mercedes-Benz filed a noncompliance report dated May 11, 
2020, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance 
Responsibility and Reports. Mercedes-Benz subsequently petitioned NHTSA 
on June 3, 2020, 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, 
Exemption for Inconsequential Defect or Noncompliance.
    This notice of receipt of Mercedes-Benz'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.

[[Page 58426]]

    II. Vehicles Involved: Approximately 155 MY 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 
250 vehicles manufactured between June 19, 2019, and August 21, 2019, 
are potentially involved.
    III. Noncompliance: Mercedes-Benz explains that the noncompliance 
is that the rearview camera displays in the subject vehicles do not 
fully meet the field of view requirements outlined in paragraph S5.5.1 
of FMVSS No. 111. Specifically, the warning message text box slightly 
obscures a portion of the top of the rear middle test object (Object 
B).
    IV. Rule Requirements: Paragraph S5.5.1 of FMVSS No. 111 includes 
the requirements relevant to this petition. When tested in accordance 
with the procedures in S14.1, the rearview image shall include: (a) A 
minimum of a 150-mm wide portion along the circumference of each test 
object located at positions F and G specified in S14.1.4; and (b) the 
full width and height of each test object located at positions A 
through E specified in S14.1.4.
    V. Summary of Mercedes-Benz's Petition: The following views and 
arguments presented in this section, V. Summary of Mercedes-Benz's 
Petition, are the views and arguments provided by Mercedes-Benz. They 
have not been evaluated by the Agency and do not reflect the views of 
the Agency. Mercedes-Benz described the subject noncompliance and 
stated their belief that the noncompliance is inconsequential as it 
relates to motor vehicle safety.
    In support of its petition, Mercedes-Benz submitted the following 
reasoning:
    1. When the subject vehicles are placed in reverse, a driver alert 
message appears on the in-vehicle display to remind drivers to pay 
attention to their surroundings. A deviation in the software received 
from the supplier caused the pitch of the rearview camera image not to 
meet MBAG's specification, so that when the driver alert message 
appears, the black border that surrounds the message box slightly 
covers a portion of the top of the rear middle test object (Test Object 
B). When the text box is displayed, approximately 10 percent of the 
extreme top of Test Object B is covered by the border. However, the 
remaining 90 percent of the test object is displayed without issue. 
None of the other test objects is affected by this condition, and the 
rearview camera display otherwise functions as intended.
    2. MBAG corrected the issue in production in early September 2019, 
and through its technical investigation of the issue found that 155 
vehicles in the United States market contain the affected software. On 
May 4, 2020, MBAG determined that a noncompliance existed with the 
requirements of FMVSS 111, S5.5.1 pertaining to the rearview camera 
field of view. Mercedes-Benz submitted its initial Noncompliance 
Information Report on May 11, 2020, and submitted an amended report on 
May 18, 2020, to include information identifying the affected 
components. See NHTSA Recall 20V-265, attached. Mercedes-Benz is not 
aware of any reports or complaints about the issue from the field.
    3. The subject vehicles display a driver alert message that appears 
when the driver places the vehicle in Reverse and reminds drivers to 
pay attention to their surroundings when backing up the vehicle. The 
warning message remains on the screen the entire time the vehicle is in 
the Reverse position and automatically extinguishes at the end of the 
backing event (when the vehicle is moved to a position other than 
Reverse). In the subject vehicles, when the alert message appears, the 
black border that surrounds the box partially obscures the extreme top 
portion of Test Object B. As a result, the rear middle test object does 
not meet the full field of view requirements. Despite the manner in 
which the text box displays, the condition does not pose an increased 
safety risk because a person behind the vehicle, including a small 
child, would still be visible by the driver. The objective of the FMVSS 
No. 111 field of view requirements, to ensure that persons located at 
the rear of the vehicle remain visible to the driver, continues to be 
met despite the variation in the software.
    4. The overarching objective of FMVSS No. 111 is to mitigate 
against the potential for accidents or injuries due to striking 
persons, including children, located at the rear of the vehicle. The 
rearview camera provisions contain a field of view requirement for the 
zone behind the vehicle and are met by displaying certain height and 
width parameters of the designated test objects when tested in 
accordance with the test procedure set out in the standard. See FMVSS 
No. 111, paragraph S5.5.1. The provision, in relevant part, states:
    Field of view. When tested in accordance with the procedures in 
S14.1, the rearview image shall include: (a) A minimum of a 150-mm wide 
portion along the circumference of each test object located at 
positions F and G specified in S14.1.4; and (b) The full width and 
height of each test object located at positions A through E specified 
in S14.1.4.
    5. The Agency previously considered the safety benefits related to 
the use of overlays such as text-based alert messages, guidance 
markers, and other indicators on rear camera visibility systems during 
the development of the FMVSS No. 111 rulemaking. While NHTSA recognized 
the inherent safety benefit of these features, the concerns it raised 
about the appropriate use of overlays was specific. NHTSA carefully 
considered whether and how to regulate the use of overlays in order to 
mitigate against a specific type of concern, the potential for overlays 
to create blind spots in the rearview image that could obscure or mask 
small objects or persons at the rear of the vehicle, particularly 
children. See 79 FR 19178 (April 7, 2014).
    6. Ultimately, NHTSA declined to mandate specific performance 
criteria related to the use of overlays, largely due to a lack of 
practical means of testing the wide variations of overlay use and 
design without additional research. Instead, the Agency considered the 
field of view requirements to have been met as long as they did not 
cover any of the required portions of the test objects if activated 
automatically or if the overlay was manually activated by the driver. 
In doing so, NHTSA recognized the ``decision not to regulate overlays 
does not relieve manufacturers from designing their system overlays so 
as to afford their customers a reasonable ability to see the required 
field of view.'' Id. at 19211 (emphasis added).
    7. Given the background regarding the very specific type of concern 
related to the use of overlays, the subject vehicles do not create an 
increased safety risk. The portion of Test Object B that is affected by 
the software issue is limited to the extreme top edge of the test 
object. The border of the text box covers approximately 10 percent of 
the top edge of Test Object B. The full height of the test object when 
displayed on the screen is 800 mm. The uppermost portion of the test 
object is 150 mm. When the alert message appears on the in-vehicle 
display, the border obscures approximately half of the 150 mm strip of 
the text object, or 75 mm.
    8. Despite the manner in which the alert message displays, the 
system still operates to provide the driver an ability to fully and 
safely see the required field of view. The key concern related to the 
use of overlays raised by the Agency in the FMVSS No. 111 final rule 
was the potential for the overlay to prevent the driver from seeing a 
child or small person located at the rear of the vehicle. That concern 
does not manifest in this instance. The border obscures only the

[[Page 58427]]

upper edge of the test object. The remaining 90 percent of the lower 
portion of the test object remains fully visible and the driver is 
still able to recognize a person or child present behind the vehicle. 
Because only the extreme upper edge of the test object is affected by 
the software deviation, none of the Agency's concerns related to 
covering or obscuring the image of a person behind the vehicle with an 
overlay occurs.
    Mercedes-Benz 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 Mercedes-Benz 
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 
Mercedes-Benz 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).

Otto G. Matheke III,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2020-20661 Filed 9-17-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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