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Notice

Grant of Applications of Two Motorcycle Manufacturers for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 123

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This notice grants the applications by two motorcycle manufacturers for a temporary exemption of two years from a requirement of S5.2.1 (Table 1) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 123 Motorcycle Controls and Displays. The applicants assert that “compliance with the standard would prevent the manufacturer from selling a motor vehicle with an overall level of safety at least equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles,” 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(iv).

The manufacturers who have applied for a temporary exemption are Malaguti USA, Miami, Florida, on behalf of Malaguti S.p.A. of Bologna, Italy, and Yamaha Motor Corporation USA of Cypress, California. Malaguti's petition covers four vehicles it describes as “motor scooters:” the Phantom 200cc, the Madison 200cc and 400cc, and the B-2 500cc. Yamaha seeks relief for its Vino 125 (125cc) machine.

Because the safety issues are identical we have decided to address both the petitions in a single notice. Further, given the opportunity for public comment on these issues in the years 1998-2002 (which resulted only in comments in support of the petitions), we have concluded that a further opportunity to comment on the same issues is not likely to result in any substantive submissions, and that we may proceed to decisions on these petitions. See, e.g., most recently the grant of applications by five motorcycle manufacturers (67 FR 62850).

The Reason Why the Applicants Need a Temporary Exemption

The problem is one that is common to the motorcycles covered by the applications. If a motorcycle is produced with rear wheel brakes, S5.2.1 of Standard No. 123 requires that the brakes be operable through the right foot control, although the left handlebar is permissible for motor-driven cycles (Item 11, Table 1). Motor-driven cycles are motorcycles with motors that produce 5 brake horsepower or less. Malaguti and Yamaha petitioned to use the left handlebar as the control for the rear brakes of certain of their motorcycles whose engines produce more than 5 brake horsepower. The frame of each of these motorcycles has not been designed to mount a right foot operated brake pedal (i.e., these scooter-type vehicles which provide a platform for the feet and operate only through hand controls). Applying considerable stress to this sensitive pressure point of the frame could cause failure due to fatigue unless proper design and testing procedures are performed.

Absent an exemption, the manufacturers will be unable to sell the motorcycle models named above because the vehicles would not fully comply with Standard No. 123.

Arguments Why the Overall Level of Safety of the Vehicles To Be Exempted Equals or Exceeds That of Non-Exempted Vehicles

As required by statute, the petitioners have argued that the overall level of safety of the motorcycles covered by their petitions equals or exceeds that of a non-exempted motor vehicle for the following reasons. All vehicles for which petitions have been submitted are equipped with an automatic transmission. As there is no foot-operated gear change, the operation and use of a motorcycle with an automatic transmission is similar to the operation and use of a bicycle, and the vehicles Start Printed Page 15553can be operated without requiring special training or practice.

Malaguti stated that it has “independent U.S. lab test data by an NHTSA approved lab as well as European Union TUV testing, and Malaguti factory testing data proving that the phantom 200cc, Madison 200cc, Madison 400cc, and B-2 500cc motor scooters exceed the requirements in FMVSS No. 123.” It asserted that all four models “meet the braking requirements of ECE 93/14 as well.”

Yamaha identified itself as “the importer and distributor of Yamaha brand motor vehicles produced by a host of Yamaha affiliates throughout the world.”

Arguments Why an Exemption Would Be in the Public Interest and Consistent With the Objectives of Motor Vehicle Safety

In Malaguti's opinion, its scooters provide a “much more natural braking response by the rider than non-exempted vehicles.” The exemption would also be in the public interest “because Malaguti is promoting environmentally clean and efficient urban transportation.”

Yamaha simply concludes that its “request is consistent with the intent of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.”

NHTSA's Decisions on the Applications and Request

It is evident that, unless Standard No. 123 is amended to permit or require the left handlebar brake control on motor scooters with more than 5 hp, the petitioners will be unable to sell their motorcycles if they do not receive a temporary exemption from the requirement that the right foot pedal operate the brake control. It is also evident from the previous grants of similar petitions that we have repeatedly found that the motorcycles exempted from the brake control location requirement of Standard No. 123 have an overall level of safety that equals or exceeds that of nonexempted motorcycles.

Malaguti's public interest and safety arguments are similar to those of other petitioners, which we have found sufficient, regarding braking response and the effect of an exemption in enhancing the environment and urban transportation. We note that Yamaha made no public interest argument or provided support for its conclusion that an exemption would be consistent with the purposes of the Vehicle Safety Act. However, the exemption requested is not one of first impression, and the arguments of other petitioners support public interest and safety findings applicable to the Yamaha Vino as well.

In consideration of the foregoing, we hereby find that the petitioners have met their burden of persuasion that to require compliance with Standard No. 123 would prevent these manufacturers from selling a motor vehicle with an overall level of safety at least equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles. We further find that a temporary exemption is in the public interest and consistent with the objectives of motor vehicle safety. Therefore:

1. Malaguti S.p.A. is hereby granted NHTSA Temporary Exemption No. EX03-1 from the requirements of item 11, column 2, table 1 of 49 CFR 571.123 Standard No. 123 Motorcycle Controls and Displays, that the rear wheel brakes be operable through the right foot control. This exemption covers only the Phantom 200cc, Madison 200cc, Madison 400cc, and B-2 500cc models and expires on March 1, 2005.

2. Yamaha Motor Corporation USA is hereby granted NHTSA Temporary Exemption No. EX03-2 from the requirements of item 11, column 2, table 1 of 49 CFR 571.123 Standard No. 123 Motorcycle Controls and Displays, that the rear wheel brakes be operable through the right foot control. This exemption covers only the Vino 125 model and expires on March 1, 2005.

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(49 U.S.C. 30113; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50).

Issued on March 26, 2003.

Jeffrey W. Runge,

Administrator.

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[FR Doc. 03-7654 Filed 3-28-03; 8:45 am]

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