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Notice

Notice of Receipt of Petition for Decision That Nonconforming 2000 and 2001 Audi A4, S4, and RS4 Passenger Cars Are Eligible for Importation

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of receipt of petition for decision that nonconforming 2000 and 2001 Audi A4, S4, and RS4 passenger cars are eligible for importation.

SUMMARY:

This document announces receipt by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of a petition for a decision that 2000 and 2001 Audi A4, S4, and RS4 passenger cars that were not originally manufactured to comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards are eligible for importation into the United States because (1) they are substantially similar to vehicles that were originally manufactured for importation into and sale in the United States and that were certified by their manufacturer as complying with the safety standards, and (2) they are capable of being readily altered to conform to the standards.

DATES:

The closing date for comments on the petition is October 30, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Comments should refer to the docket number and notice number, and be submitted to: Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh St., SW, Washington, DC 20590 (Docket hours are from 9 am to 5 pm).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Luke Loy, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, NHTSA (202-366-5308).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Under 49 U.S.C. 30141(a)(1)(A), a motor vehicle that was not originally manufactured to conform to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards shall be refused admission into the United States unless NHTSA has decided that the motor vehicle is substantially similar to a motor vehicle originally manufactured for importation into and sale in the United States, certified under 49 U.S.C. 30115, and of the same model year as the model of the motor vehicle to be compared, and is capable of being readily altered to conform to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Petitions for eligibility decisions may be submitted by either manufacturers or importers who have registered with NHTSA pursuant to 49 CFR part 592. As specified in 49 CFR 593.7, NHTSA publishes notice in the Federal Register of each petition that it receives, and affords interested persons an opportunity to comment on the petition. At the close of the comment period, NHTSA decides, on the basis of the petition and any comments that it has received, whether the vehicle is eligible for importation. The agency then publishes this decision in the Federal Register.

J.K. Technologies, L.L.C. of Baltimore, Maryland (“J.K.”) (Registered Importer 90-006) originally petitioned NHTSA to decide whether 2000 and 2001 Audi A4 and S4 passenger cars are eligible for importation into the United States. On April 4, 2002, NHTSA published a notice at 67 FR 16146 asking for comments on the petition. Comments were due by May 6, 2002. On July 26, 2002, J.K. revised its original petition to include the Audi RS4 model. Accordingly, we are publishing a new notice, covering all Audi “4-series” models.

The vehicles which J.K. believes are substantially similar to the non-U.S. certified 2000 and 2001 Audi A4, S4, and RS4 passenger cars described in its petition are 2000 and 2001 Audi A4 and S4 passenger cars that were manufactured for importation into, and sale in, the United States and certified by their manufacturer as conforming to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards. Although a certified RS4 has not been offered in the U.S. market, the three models of the “4-series” differ principally in performance and trim options, and we regard those vehicles as being essentially the same “model;” i.e., they are a family of vehicles which have a degree of commonality in construction, such as body, chassis, or cab type. See definition of the term “model” at 49 CFR 579.4, as added by the final rule establishing early warning reporting Start Printed Page 61379requirements published by NHTSA on July 10, 2002 (67 FR 45822 at 45875). The petitioner claims that it carefully compared non-U.S. certified 2000 and 2001 Audi A4, S4, and RS4 passenger cars to their U.S.-certified counterparts, and found the vehicles to be substantially similar with respect to compliance with most Federal motor vehicle safety standards.

J.K. submitted information with its petition intended to demonstrate that non-U.S. certified 2000 and 2001 Audi A4, S4, and RS4 passenger cars, as originally manufactured for sale in Europe, conform to many Federal motor vehicle safety standards in the same manner as their U.S. certified counterparts, or are capable of being readily altered to conform to those standards.

Specifically, the petitioner claims that non-U.S. certified 2000 and 2001 Audi A4, S4, and RS4 passenger cars are identical to their U.S. certified counterparts with respect to compliance with Standard Nos. 102 Transmission Shift Lever Sequence * * *., 103 Defrosting and Defogging Systems, 104 Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems, 105 Hydraulic Brake Systems, 106 Brake Hoses, 109 New Pneumatic Tires, 113 Hood Latch Systems, 116 Brake Fluid, 118 Power Window Systems, 124 Accelerator Control Systems, 135 Passenger Car Brake Systems, 201 Occupant Protection in Interior Impact, 202  Head Restraints, 204 Steering Control Rearward Displacement, 205 Glazing Materials, 206 Door Locks and Door Retention Components, 207 Seating Systems, 209 Seat Belt Assemblies, 210 Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages, 212 Windshield Retention, 214 Side Impact Protection, 216 Roof Crush Resistance, 219 Windshield Zone Intrusion, 301 Fuel System Integrity, and 302 Flammability of Interior Materials.

With respect to Standard No. 214, the petitioner noted that there are minor differences in ride height, in the range of 22 mm, between some models in the line. Petitioner claims that these differences do not exceed expected impact point variations during compliance testing for the standard.

The petitioner also contends that the vehicles are capable of being readily altered to meet the following standards, in the manner indicated:

Standard No. 101 Controls and Displays: replacement of the instrument cluster with a U.S.-model component, and reprogramming to allow the vehicle's computer system to accept the changes.

Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment: (a) Installation of U.S.-model headlamps and front sidemarker lamps, (b) installation of U.S.-model taillamp assemblies that incorporate rear sidemarker lamps, (c) installation of a U.S.-model high mounted stop lamp assembly if the vehicle is not already so equipped.

Standard No. 110 Tire Selection and Rims: installation of a tire information placard.

Standard No. 111 Rearview Mirror: replacement of the passenger side rearview mirror with a U.S.-model component.

Standard No. 114 Theft Protection: programming of the key warning system at the time the instrument cluster is changed, performed at the time of conversion.

Standard No. 208 Occupant Crash Protection: inspection of all vehicles and replacement of the driver's and passenger's side air bags, knee bolsters, control units, sensors, and seat belts with U.S.-model components on vehicles that are not lready so equipped. Petitioner states that the front and rear outboard designated seating positions have combination lap and shoulder belts that are self-tensioning and that release by means of a single red pushbutton and that there is a lap belt at the rear center designated seating position. Petitioner further states that the vehicles are equipped with a seat belt warning lamp and audible buzzer that are identical to components installed on U.S.-certified models. Petitioner notes that there are minor variations in the weights of the different models covered by the petition, but claims that these differences are so minor that they would have no effect on compliance testing for the standard.

The petitioner states that all vehicles will be inspected for compliance with the Theft Prevention Standard at 49 CFR part 541, and that required anti-theft devices will be installed if needed.

The petitioner also states that U.S.-model bumpers and shocks must be installed on the vehicles to comply with the Bumper Standard found in 49 CFR part 581. Petitioner states that the support structure for the bumpers on the vehicles is identical to that found on their U.S.-certified counterparts.

The petitioner further states that a vehicle identification plate must be affixed to the vehicles near the left windshield post and a reference and certification label must be affixed in the area of the left front door post to meet the requirements of 49 CFR part 565.

Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the petition described above. Comments should refer to the docket number and be submitted to: Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh St., SW, Washington, DC 20590 (Docket hours are from 9 am to 5 pm). It is requested but not required that 10 copies be submitted.

All comments received before the close of business on the closing date indicated above will be considered, and will be available for examination in the docket at the above address both before and after that date. To the extent possible, comments filed after the closing date will also be considered. Notice of final action on the petition will be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30141(a)(1)(A) and (b)(1); 49 CFR 593.8; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

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Issued on: September 24, 2002.

Marilynne Jacobs,

Director, Office of Vehicle Safety, Compliance.

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[FR Doc. 02-24730 Filed 9-27-02; 8:45 am]

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