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Notice

Petition for Exemption From the Federal Motor Vehicle Motor Theft Prevention Standard; Nissan

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION:

Grant of petition for exemption.

SUMMARY:

This document grants in full the petition of Nissan North America, Inc., (Nissan) for an exemption of a high-theft line (codenamed “Model M”) from the parts-marking requirements of the Federal motor vehicle theft prevention standard. This petition is granted because the agency has determined that the antitheft device to be placed on the line as standard equipment is likely to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard. Nissan requested confidential treatment for its information and attachments submitted in support of its petition. The agency will address Nissan's request for confidential treatment in a separate letter.

DATES:

The exemption granted by this notice is effective beginning with the (confidential) model year.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Rosalind Proctor, Office of Planning and Consumer Programs, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington DC 20590. Ms. Proctor's phone number is (202) 366-0846. Her fax number is (202) 493-2290. Start Printed Page 53831

End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In a petition dated June 21, 2001, Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan), requested exemption from the parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention standard for a motor vehicle line. The nameplate of the line and the model year of introduction are confidential. The petition requested an exemption from parts-marking pursuant to 49 CFR 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard, based on the installation of an antitheft device as standard equipment for the entire vehicle line.

Based on the evidence submitted by Nissan, the agency believes that the antitheft device for the Nissan “Model M” vehicle line is likely to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention standard (49 CFR part 541).

Section 33106(b)(2)(D) of title 49, United States Code, authorized the Secretary of Transportation to grant an exemption from the parts-marking requirements for not more than one additional line of a manufacturer for MYs 1997-2000. However, it does not address the contingency of what to do after model year 2000 in the absence of a decision under Section 33103(d). 49 U.S.C. 33103(d)(3) states that the number of lines for which the agency can grant an exemption is to be decided after the Attorney General completes a review of the effectiveness of antitheft devices and finds that antitheft devices are an effective substitute for parts-marking. The Attorney General has not yet made a finding and has not decided the number of lines, if any, for which the agency will be authorized to grant an exemption. Upon consultation with the Department of Justice, we determined that the appropriate reading of Section 33103(d) is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may continue to grant parts-marking exemptions for not more than one additional model line each year, as specified for model years 1997-2000 by 49 U.S.C. 33106(b)(2)(C). This is the level contemplated by the Act for the period before the Attorney General's decision. The final decision on whether to continue granting exemptions will be made by the Attorney General at the conclusion of the review pursuant to Section 330103(d)(3).

Nissan's submittal is considered a complete petition, as required by 49 CFR 543.7, in that it meets the general requirements contained in § 543.5 and the specific content requirements of § 543.6. Nissan requested confidential treatment for the information submitted in support of its petition. The agency will address Nissan's request for confidential treatment in a separate letter.

In its petition, Nissan provided a detailed description and diagram of the identity, design, and location of the components of the antitheft device for the new line. This antitheft device includes an engine-immobilizer and alarm system. The antitheft device is a passive system, and is activated by turning the ignition switch to the “OFF” position using the proper ignition key.

In order to ensure the reliability and durability of the device, Nissan conducted tests based on its own specified standards. Nissan provided a detailed list of tests conducted and believes that its device is reliable and durable since the device complied with its specified requirements for each test.

Nissan compared the device proposed for its vehicle line with devices which NHTSA has determined to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as would compliance with the parts-marking requirements. Nissan stated that its proposed device is functionally equivalent to the systems used in previous vehicle lines which were deemed effective and granted exemptions from the parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention standard. Additionally, theft data have indicated a decline in theft rates for vehicle lines that have been equipped with antitheft devices similar to that which Nissan proposes to install on the new line.

On the basis of this comparison, Nissan has concluded that the proposed antitheft device is no less effective than those devices installed on lines for which NHTSA has already granted full exemption from the parts-marking requirements.

Based on the evidence submitted by Nissan, the agency believes that the antitheft device for the Nissan vehicle line is likely to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard (49 CFR 541).

The agency concludes that the device will provide five of the types of performance listed in § 543.6(a)(3): Promoting activation; attracting attention to the efforts of unauthorized persons; preventing defeat or circumvention of the device by unauthorized persons; preventing operation of the vehicle by unauthorized entrants; and ensuring the reliability and durability of the device.

As required by 49 U.S.C. 33106 and 49 CFR part 543.6(a)(4) and (5), the agency finds that Nissan has provided adequate reasons for its belief that the antitheft device will reduce and deter theft. This conclusion is based on the information Nissan provided about its device, much of which is confidential. This confidential information included a description of reliability and functional tests conducted by Nissan for the antitheft device and its components.

For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full Nissan's petition for exemption for its vehicle line from the parts-marking requirements of 49 CFR part 541. The agency notes that 49 CFR part 541, appendix A-1, identifies those lines that are exempted from the Theft Prevention Standard for a given model year. Advanced listing, including the release of future product nameplates, is necessary in order to notify law enforcement agencies of new models exempted from the parts-marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard. Therefore, since Nissan has been granted confidential treatment for its vehicle line, the confidential status of the vehicle line will be protected until the introduction of its vehicle line into the market place. At that time, Appendix A-1 will be revised to reflect the nameplate of Nissan's exempted vehicle line.

If Nissan decides not to use the exemption for this line, it should formally notify the agency. If such a decision is made, the line must be fully marked according to the requirements under 49 CFR parts 541.5 and 541.6 (marking of major component parts and replacement parts).

NHTSA notes that if Nissan wishes in the future to modify the device on which this exemption is based, the company may have to submit a petition to modify the exemption. Part 543.7(d) states that a part 543 exemption applies only to vehicles that belong to a line exempted under this part and equipped with the antitheft device on which the line's exemption is based. Further, part 543.9(c)(2) provides for the submission of petitions “to modify an exemption to permit the use of an antitheft device similar to but differing from the one specified in that exemption.”

The agency wishes to minimize the administrative burden that part 543.9(c)(2) could place on exempted vehicle manufacturers and itself. The agency did not intend in drafting part 543 to require the submission of a modification petition for every change to the components or design of an antitheft device. The significance of many such changes could be de minimis. Therefore, NHTSA suggests that if the manufacturer contemplates making any changes the effects of which Start Printed Page 53832might be characterized as de minimis, it should consult the agency before preparing and submitting a petition to modify.

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 33106; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

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Issued on: October 18, 2001.

Stephen R. Kratzke,

Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.

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[FR Doc. 01-26811 Filed 10-23-01; 8:45 am]

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