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Bentley Motors Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Topics:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Bentley

Bentley Motors Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Claude H. Harris
Federal Register
September 20, 2011

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 182 (Tuesday, September 20, 2011)]
[Pages 58343-58344]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-24126]

[[Page 58343]]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0064; Notice 2]

Bentley Motors Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential 


SUMMARY: Bentley Motors Inc. (BMI),\1\ has determined that an unknown 
number of replacement seat belts that it imported do not include the 
installation and usage instructions required by paragraphs S4.1(k) and 
S4.1(l) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 209, Seat 
Belt Assemblies. BMI filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR 
part 573, ``Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports'' on 
December 18, 2009.

    \1\ Bentley Motors Inc. is a Delaware Corporation that imports 
motor vehicles and replacement equipment.

    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and the rule 
implementing those provisions at 49 CFR part 556, BMI has petitioned 
for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 
U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Notice of receipt of the 
petition was published, with a 30-day public comment period, on June 
23, 2010 in the Federal Register (75 FR 35877). No comments were 
received. To view the petition and all supporting documents log onto 
the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the online search instructions to 
locate docket number ``NHTSA-2010-0064.''
    For further information on this decision, contact Ms. Claudia 
Covell, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-5293, 
facsimile (202) 366-7002.
    BMI explained that approximately 300 nonconforming seat belt 
assemblies, produced during the 12 months prior to December 18, 2009, 
and an additional unknown number produced prior to that by its 
manufacturer, Bentley Motors, Ltd, which is based in the United 
Kingdom, were imported by BMI and sold to its authorized dealers in the 
United States for replacement purposes.
    BMI described the noncompliance as the failure to provide both 
installation and use instructions with the seat belt assemblies as 
required in FMVSS No. 209 S4.1(k) and S4.1(l).
    BMI noted that the noncompliant seat belts can be identified by 
part number for specific vehicle applications and are labeled by model 
number, name of manufacturer, and date of production in accordance with 
paragraph S4.1(j) of FMVSS No. 209.
    BMI provided the basis of why they believe this noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. In essence, the BMI stated 
     Seat belts currently sold by BMI to its dealers are only 
for installation as replacement [seat] belts in specific seating 
positions in Bentley 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.
     Seat belt assembly installation instructions are included 
in Bentley Service Manuals available to all Bentley Independent repair 
shops and individual owners 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.
     Seat belt use instructions regarding proper seat belt 
positioning on the body and proper maintenance and periodic inspection 
for damage are, and have been included, in all Bentley owners' manuals.
     BMI has developed installation and use instructions for 
replacement seat belt assemblies. This material is being placed into 
the packages of seat belts currently in BMI's service parts warehouses. 
The required material will also be included with all seat belt 
assemblies shipped to BMI for resale to dealers in the future.
     BMI is not aware of owner complaints or field incident 
reports relating to the lack of installation and use instructions with 
replacement seat belt assemblies.
    In view of the above, BMI believes that the described noncompliance 
is inconsequential and does not present a risk to motor vehicle safety. 
Thus, BMI requests that its petition, to exempt it from providing 
recall notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 
remedying the recall noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, 
should be granted.
    NHTSA Decision: To help ensure proper selection, installation, 
usage, and maintenance of seat belt assemblies, paragraph S4.1(k) of 
FMVSS No. 209 requires that installation, usage, and maintenance 
instructions be provided with seat belt assemblies, other than those 
installed by an automobile manufacturer.
    First, we note that the subject seat belt assemblies are only made 
available to BMI authorized dealerships for their use or subsequent 
resale. Because the parts ordering process used by BMI authorized 
dealerships clearly identifies the correct service part required by 
model year, model, and seating position, NHTSA believes that there is 
little likelihood that an inappropriate seat belt assembly will be 
provided for a specific seating position within a BMI vehicle.
    Second, we note that technicians at BMI dealerships have access to 
the seat belt assembly installation instruction information in BMI Shop 
Manuals. In addition, installers other than BMI dealership technicians 
can access the installation instructions from BMI service manuals, BMI 
dealers or from aftermarket service information compilers. We also 
believe that BMI is correct in stating that the seat belt assemblies 
are designed to be installed properly only in their intended 
application. Thus, we conclude that sufficient safeguards are in place 
to prevent the installation of an improper seat belt assembly.
    NHTSA recognizes the importance of having installation instructions 
available to installers as well as use and maintenance instructions 
available to consumers. The risk created by this noncompliance is that 
someone who purchased an assembly is unable to obtain the necessary 
installation information resulting in an incorrectly installed seat 
belt assembly. However, because the seat belt assemblies are designed 
to be installed properly only in their intended application and the 
installation information is widely available to the public, it appears 
that there is little likelihood that installers will not be able to 
access the installation instructions. Furthermore, we note that BMI has 
stated that they are not aware of any customer field reports of service 
seat belt assemblies being incorrectly installed in the subject 
applications, nor aware of any reports requesting installation 
instructions. These findings suggest that it is unlikely that seat 
belts have been improperly installed.
    In addition, although 49 CFR 571.209 paragraph S4.1(k) requires 

[[Page 58344]]

instructions specified in SAE Recommended Practice J800c be included in 
seat belt replacement instructions, that requirement applies to seat 
belts intended to be installed in seating positions where seat belts do 
not already exist. The subject seat belt assemblies are only intended 
to be used for replacement of original equipment seat belts; therefore, 
the instructions do not apply to the subject seat belt assemblies.\2\

    \2\ Subaru of America, Inc.; Grant of Application for Decision 
of Inconsequential Non-Compliance (65 FR 67472)

    With respect to seat belt usage and inspection instructions, we 
note that this information is available in the Owner Handbooks that are 
included with each new vehicle and apply to the replacement seat belt 
assemblies installed in these vehicles. Thus, with respect to usage and 
maintenance instructions, it appears that BMI has met the intent of 
S4.1(l) of FMVSS No. 209 for the subject vehicles using alternate 
methods for notification.
    NHTSA has granted similar petitions for noncompliance with seat 
belt assembly installation and usage instruction standards. Refer to 
Hyundai Motor Company (74 FR 9125, March 2, 209); 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); Subaru of America, Inc. (65 FR 67471, November 9, 2000); 
Bombardier Motor Corporation of America, Inc. (65 FR 60238, October 10, 
2000); TRW, Inc. (58 FR 7171, February 4, 1993); and Chrysler 
Corporation, (57 FR 45865, October 5, 1992). In all of these cases, the 
petitioners demonstrated that the noncompliant seat belt assemblies 
were properly installed, and due to their respective replacement parts 
ordering systems, improper replacement seat belt assembly selection and 
installation would not be likely to occur.
    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that BMI has 
met its burden of persuasion that the seatbelt installation and usage 
instruction noncompliances described are inconsequential to motor 
vehicle safety. Accordingly, BMI's application is granted, and it is 
exempted from providing the notification of noncompliance that is 
required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and from remedying the noncompliance, as 
required by 49 U.S.C. 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 replacement seat belt assemblies \3\ that BMI no 
longer controlled at the time that it determined that a noncompliance 
existed in the subject vehicles.

    \3\ BMI's petition, which was filed under 49 CFR Part 556, 
requests an agency decision to exempt BMI as a manufacturer from the 
notification and recall responsibilities of 49 CFR Part 573 for the 
affected replacement seat belt assemblies. However, the agency 
cannot 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 
replacement seat belt assemblies under their control after BMI 
notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

    Issued on: September 14, 2011.
Claude H. Harris,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2011-24126 Filed 9-19-11; 8:45 am]

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