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DeTomaso Modena S.p.A.; Receipt of Application for Temporary Exemption From Three Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards


American Government Topics:  DeTomaso Guara

DeTomaso Modena S.p.A.; Receipt of Application for Temporary Exemption From Three Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

L. Robert Shelton
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
February 6, 1998

[Federal Register: February 6, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 25)]
[Notices]               
[Page 6255-6256]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr06fe98-155]

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

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. NHTSA-98-3412; Notice 1]

 
DeTomaso Modena S.p.A.; Receipt of Application for Temporary 
Exemption From Three Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

    DeTomaso Modena S.p.A. of Modena, Italy (``DeTomaso'') has applied 
for a temporary exemption from portions of three Federal motor vehicle 
safety standards as described below. The basis of the application is 
that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a 
manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with each of the 
standards.
    This notice of receipt of an application is published in accordance 
with the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(2) and does not represent 
any judgment of the agency on the merits of the application.
    DeTomaso is a small, independent Italian passenger car manufacturer 
which produced 15 vehicles between September 1, 1996, and September 1, 
1997. The current car produced, and the one for which exemption is 
sought, is the Guara GT coupe. DeTomaso's ``sister'' corporation, 
DeTomaso Ponente Srl, was recently formed to launch the development and 
production of the Bigua coupe, intended as the successor to the Guara. 
The Bigua has been designed to conform to all applicable U.S. Federal 
motor vehicle safety standards. However, DeTomaso anticipates that it 
cannot begin production of the Bigua until 1999 ``given the significant 
investments required and the need for completion of outside 
financing.'' In the interim, it

[[Page 6256]]

needs to sell 50 Guaras in the next 12 months to have adequate cash-
flow to prevent shut-down of its factory. Its cumulative net losses in 
the five-year period 1992-96 are slightly less than $7,625,000. 
Critical revenue can be generated by selling some Guaras in the 
American market. This will also afford an opportunity for DeTomaso to 
reintroduce its name in the United States after an absence of 20 years 
(its Pantera model was sold through Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the 
1970s).
    The Guara has received full type approval under EC law. However, at 
the time it was designed, 1993, DeTomaso did not intend to sell it in 
the American market and such a decision was not reached until the 
Summer of 1997 when it became apparent that reentry into the United 
States with the Guara was financially necessary in advance of 
introduction of the fully-complying Bigua. DeTomaso cites NHTSA's grant 
of a temporary exemption to Bugatti as an example of relief being 
provided a vehicle which also was not designed with the U.S. market in 
mind (59 FR 11649). Its review of the Federal motor vehicle safety 
standards has led it to conclude that the Guara can meet all but a 
portion of three of them: Standard No. 208 Occupant Crash Protection 
(the automatic restraint requirements of paragraph S4.1.5), Standard 
No. 214 Side Impact Protection (the dynamic side impact requirements of 
paragraph S3(b)), and Standard No. 301 Fuel System Integrity (the 
lateral moving barrier and roll-over portions of paragraphs S6.3 and 
S6.4). Accordingly, it requests a two-year exemption from them. A 
denial would force DeTomaso to cease production of the Guara because of 
insufficient demand outside the United States for it, and remain closed 
until the Bigua was ready for manufacture. However, ``a denial of the 
exemption request will create the grave risk that potential investors 
will refrain from consummating their investments and could thus 
jeopardize the entire existence of DeTomaso.'' The company believes 
that it has made a good faith effort for the Bigua to meet the Federal 
motor vehicle safety standards for which it is requesting exemption on 
behalf of the Guara.
    The applicant believes that a temporary exemption would be in the 
public interest and consistent with traffic safety objectives for 
several reasons. The first is the low volume of exempted vehicles; it 
does not anticipate selling more than 50 Guaras in the United States 
over the next two years. The second is that the Guara will meet the 
requirements of S4.1 of Standard No. 208 with belted (3-point system) 
crash test dummies. This test will be piggy-backed with Standard No. 
301's frontal impact test; the applicant informs NHTSA that it ``will 
modify its European design and fit reinforced structures on all 
exempted cars.'' It believes that ``this design should also provide 
significant benefit as regards side impact protection.'' DeTomaso 
argues that the mounting of the fuel tank in the central tubular 
chassis will reduce the risk of fuel system damage in the event of a 
crash. Finally, it will place a label on the dash advising occupants of 
the exemption and the need to wear their seat belts.
    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the 
application described above. Comments should refer to the docket number 
and the notice number, and be submitted to: Central Docket Management 
Facility, room Pl-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. 
It is requested but not required that 10 copies be submitted.
    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated below will be considered, and will be available 
for examination in the docket (from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the above 
address both before and after that date. Comments may also be viewed on 
the Internet at web site dms.dot.gov. To the extent possible, comments 
filed after the closing date will also be considered. Notice of final 
action on the application will be published in the Federal Register 
pursuant to the authority indicated below.
    Comment closing date: March 9, 1998.

(49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8)

    Issued on February 2, 1998.
L. Robert Shelton,
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 98-2997 Filed 2-5-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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