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Denial of Motor Vehicle Defect Petition, DP02-006

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


Denial of petition for a defect investigation.


This notice sets forth the reasons for the denial of a petition submitted to NHTSA under 49 U.S.C. 30162, requesting that the agency commence a proceeding to determine the existence of a defect related to motor vehicle safety in model year (MY) 2000 Kia Sportage vehicles with respect to their propensity to roll over. After reviewing the petition and other information, NHTSA has concluded that further expenditure of the agency's investigative resources on the issue raised by the petition does not appear to be warranted. The agency accordingly has denied the petition. The petition is hereinafter identified as DP02-006.

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Jonathan White, Office of Defects Investigation (ODI), NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-5226.

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Ms. Anne Marie Terrone of Franklin Square, New York, submitted a petition by letter dated April 17, 2002, requesting that NHTSA commence an investigation to determine the existence of a defect related to motor vehicle safety in MY 2000 Kia Sportage vehicles. The petitioner alleges that as she was making a left-hand turn, her MY 2000 Kia Sportage vehicle rolled over twice, causing her serious injuries.

In response to ODI's inquiry, Kia Motors America, Inc (KMA) provided ODI with information concerning the aforementioned rollover incident. KMA's information included a copy of the lawsuit filed by the petitioner and a copy of the police accident report (PAR). The lawsuit states that the petitioner's vehicle rolled over twice while changing lanes on Route 135 in Nassau County, New York. The PAR states that the incident occurred at 1:45 p.m., on March 16, 2001, on Route 135, an expressway with a posted speed limit of 55 mph. A non-scaled rough diagram in the PAR appears to show that the vehicle was initially in the right hand lane of the three-lane roadway, overturned between the right and middle lanes and came to a stop at an angle between the left and middle lanes. The PAR indicates that no other vehicle was involved and that “unsafe speed” was an apparent contributing factor.

Two variables that have significant influence on a vehicle's resistance to rollover are its track width and center-of-gravity (CG). Wider track width and/or lower CG increases the vehicle's resistance to rollover. According to KMA, the Kia Sportage vehicle's track width and CG are the same from MY 1995 (first model year) to MY 2002. Accordingly, ODI has reviewed NHTSA's consumer complaint database, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database (FARS), and available state data for the MY 1995-2000 Kia Sportage vehicles (subject vehicles) to search for reported rollover incidents. ODI did not include MY 2001-2002 since state crash data and FARS data are either not available or incomplete at this time. For comparison purposes, ODI also reviewed similar data for the MY 1995-2000 Chevrolet/Geo Tracker, MY 1997-2000 Honda CR-V, MY 1999-2000 Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara, MY 1998-2000 Isuzu Amigo, and MY 1996-2000 Toyota RAV4 (hereinafter “peer vehicles”). These vehicles were selected as peers of the subject vehicles because of their general characteristics rather than specific dimensions. ODI also compared the rollover risk of the subject vehicles with those of certain model year 2001 Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) evaluated under NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

Table 1, below, compares the number of complaints ODI has received for the subject vehicles and the peer vehicles of rollover incidents that appeared to have occurred on the road surface and did not involve another vehicle (Single-Vehicle On-Road (“SVOR”) rollovers). This data does not suggest that the Kia Sportage has a higher propensity of SVOR rollover than the peer vehicles.

Table 1.—ODI Compliant Comparison on SVOR Rollover Between the Subject Vehicles and the Peer Vehicles

Make and modelModel yearTotal
Kia Sportage0001012
Isuzu Amigon/an/an/a0000
Honda CR-Vn/an/a00011
Toyota RAV4n/a001102
Suzuki Vitara*n/an/an/an/a000
 “n/a” denotes here and hereinafter that the model vehicle was not produced in that model year.Start Printed Page 61377
* Including the Grand Vitara model here and hereinafter.

Table 2, below, shows the number of all SVOR fatal crashes in FARS between calendar years 1994 through 2000 involving the subject vehicles and the peer vehicles. Also shown are the number of these crashes that involved rollovers, and the percentage of rollovers in these crashes. These SVOR crashes do not include first harmful event collisions with pedestrians, pedal-cyclists, trains, or animals. FARS appears to indicate that the subject vehicles have a lower propensity of SVOR rollover per fatal crash than the peer vehicles.

Table 2.—SVOR Rollover Rate Per Fatal Crash for the Subject Vehicles and the Peer Vehicles Based on 1994-2000 ARS Data

Vehicle modelModel yearTotalPercent of rollovers in SVOR crashes

Table 3, below, shows the number of SVOR crashes and the percentage of SVOR crashes involving rollovers using state crash data from Florida, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina (calendar year 2000 data not available), Pennsylvania, and Utah for crashes that occurred in calendar years 1994 through 2000. These states were chosen because their crash records included the vehicle identification number and identified all rollover crashes. The state crash data appears to indicate that the subject vehicles have a comparable propensity of SVOR rollover as the peer vehicles.

Table 3.—Percentage of the SVOR Rollovers in SVOR Crashes From Six States

Make and modelModel yearSVOR crashesSVOR rollover crashesPercentage of the rollovers in SVOR crashes
Kia Sportage95-002609436
Isuzu Amigo98-0026411644
Honda CR-V97-001954221
Toyota RAV496-002377632
Chevrolet/Geo Tracker95-00256093236
Suzuki Vitara99-00812430

ODI also compared the rollover resistance of the subject vehicles to that of other MY 2001 SUVs by utilizing NCAP's evaluation of the static stability factor (SSF) for each of the other vehicles listed in Table 4. SSF is one-half the track width of a vehicle divided by the height of its center of gravity; a higher SSF value corresponds to greater rollover resistance in single-vehicle crashes. Table 4, below, shows that the SSF of the subject vehicles ranks favorably among the MY 2001 SUVs evaluated under NCAP.

Table 4.—NCAP Static Stability Factor for Model Year 2001 Sport Utility Vehicles Compared to SSF for MY 1995-2002 Kia Sportage Calculated by KMA

NCAP Static Stability Factor for Model Year 2001 Sport Utility Vehicles

Make and model4x2Make and model4x4
Pontiac Aztek1.21Pontiac Aztek1.26
Dodge Durango1.20Toyota RAV41.22
Lexus RX3001.20Lexus RX3001.21
Toyota RAV41.19Mazda Tribute1.21
Honda CR-V1.17Honda CR-V1.19
Mazda Tribute1.17Isuzu Rodeo1.18
Chevrolet Tracker1.16Kia Sportage1.18
Suzuki Grand Vitara1.16Honda Passport1.18
Honda Passport1.15Dodge Durango1.16
Isuzu Rodeo1.15Infiniti QX41.16
Kia Sportage1.14Nissan Pathfinder1.16
Chevrolet Suburban1.13Chevrolet Tracker1.15
GMC Yukon XL1.13Suzuki Vitara1.15
Chevrolet Tahoe1.12Chevrolet Suburban1.14
GMC Yukon1.12Chevrolet Tahoe1.14
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Ford Expedition1.11GMC Yukon/Yukon XL1.14
Lincoln Navigator1.11Jeep Wrangler1.13
Jeep Grand Cherokee1.09Nissan Xterra1.12
Nissan Xterra1.09Lincoln Navigator1.11
Toyota 4Runner1.08Ford Expedition1.11
Mitsubishi Montero Sport1.07Jeep Grand Cherokee1.11
Nissan Pathfinder1.07Mitsubishi Montero Sport1.11
Mercury Mountaineer1.06Chevrolet Blazer1.09
Ford Explorer1.06GMC Jimmy1.09
Chevrolet Blazer1.02Oldsmobile Bravada1.09
GMC Jimmy1.02Jeep Cherokee1.08
Ford Explorer1.06
Mercury Mountaineer1.06
Toyota 4Runner1.06

In view of the foregoing, it is unlikely that NHTSA would issue an order for the notification and remedy of the alleged defect as defined by the petitioner at the conclusion of the investigation requested in the petition. Therefore, in view of the need to allocate and prioritize NHTSA's limited resources to best accomplish the agency's safety mission, the petition is denied.

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30162(d); delegations of authority at CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

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Issued on: September 23, 2002.

Kenneth N. Weinstein,

Associate Administrator for Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. 02-24726 Filed 9-27-02; 8:45 am]