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Notice

Ford Motor Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

Ford Motor Company (Ford), on behalf of Jaguar and Land Rover, has determined that certain motor vehicles seat belt assemblies sold during the period 1981 through 2008 for certain model year 1981 through 2008 Jaguar and Land Rover make vehicles, did not fully comply with paragraphs S4.1(k) and S4.1(l) of 49 CFR 571.209 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) No. 209 Seat Belt Assemblies. Ford has filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR Part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports.

Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) (see implementing rule at 49 CFR part 556), Ford 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.

This notice of receipt of Ford's petition is published under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120 and does not represent any agency decision or other exercise of judgment concerning the merits of the petition.

Affected are an undetermined number of model year 1981 through 2008 Jaguar and Land Rover make passenger cars and multi-purpose vehicles. Ford stated that because these seat belt assemblies are supplied as replacement parts they can be used for non-warranty purposes, and therefore it is unable to ascertain into which individual vehicles these parts may have been installed. The model years that are affected are:

2001-2008 Model Year Jaguar X-Type

1999-2008 Model Year Jaguar S-Type

1982-2008 Model Year Jaguar XJ

1997-2008 Model year Jaguar XK

1981-1996 Model Year Jaguar XJS

2002-2005 Model Year Land Rover Freelander

2008 Model Year Land Rover LR2

1993-1997 Model Year Land Rover Defender

1994-1999 Model Year Land Rover Discovery Series I

1999-2004 Model Year Land Rover Discovery Series II

2005-2008 Model Year Land Rover LR3

1987-2008 Model Year Land Rover Range Rover

2006-2008 Model Year Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Paragraphs S4.1(k) and S4.1(l) of FMVSS No. 209 require:

(k) Installation instructions. A seat belt assembly, other than a seat belt assembly installed in a motor vehicle by an automobile manufacturer, shall be accompanied by an instruction sheet providing sufficient information for installing the assembly in a motor vehicle. The installation instructions shall state whether the assembly is for universal installation or for installation only in specifically stated motor vehicles, and shall include at least those items specified in SAE Recommended Practice J800c, “Motor Vehicle Seat Belt Installations,” November 1973. If the assembly is for use only in specifically stated motor vehicles, the assembly shall either be permanently and legibly marked or labeled with the following statement, or the instruction sheet shall include the following statement:

This seat belt assembly is for use only in [insert specific seating position(s), e.g., “front right”] in [insert specific vehicle make(s) and model(s)].

(l) Usage and maintenance instructions. A seat belt assembly or retractor shall be accompanied by written instructions for the proper use of the assembly, stressing particularly the importance of wearing the assembly snugly and properly located on the body, and on the maintenance of the assembly and periodic inspection of all components. The instructions shall show the proper manner of threading webbing in the hardware of seat belt assemblies in which the webbing is not permanently fastened. Instructions for a nonlocking retractor shall include a caution that the webbing must be fully extended from the retractor during use of the seat belt assembly unless the retractor is attached to the free end of webbing which is not subjected to any tension during restraint of an occupant by the assembly. Instructions for Type 2a shoulder belt shall include a warning that the shoulder belt is not to be used without a lap belt.

Ford explains that the subject seat belt assemblies were sold in the United States and federalized territories without the installation, usage, and maintenance instructions required by paragraphs in S4.1(k) and S4.1(1) of FMVSS 209.

Ford makes the argument that the service seat belt assemblies in question are only made available to Jaguar and Land Rover authorized dealerships for their use or subsequent resale and that the Jaguar and Land Rover parts ordering process used by its dealers clearly identifies the correct service part required by model year, model, and seating position. By way of example, Ford further explains that an order for a driver's-side front buckle assembly for a 2002 model year Range Rover would be filled by the components specifically designed to be installed in that particular position in that specific vehicle. Furthermore, Ford states that Jaguar's and Land Rover's service seat belt assemblies are designed to be installed properly only in their intended application.

Ford additionally states that technicians at Jaguar and Land Rover dealerships that replace seat belts have access to the installation instruction information available in workshop manuals. Installers other than Jaguar and Land Rover dealership technicians also have seat belt installation information available because most workshop manual information, including seat belt replacement information, is made available to the general public on the Jaguar and Land Rover Global Technical Reference (GTR) Web sites. Start Printed Page 27890

Ford additionally argues that a significant portion of paragraph S4.1(k) appears to address a concern with proper installation of aftermarket seat belts into vehicles that were not originally equipped with these restraints. Ford also notes that SAE J800c which is cited in the regulation involves installation of “universal type seat belt assemblies,” particularly where no seat belt had previously been installed, and that these concerns do not apply to the service seat belts. The vehicles involved in this petition have uniquely designed seat belt components and replacement seat belt assemblies are installed into the identical location from which the original parts were removed.

Ford also states that proper seat belt usage instructions are clearly explained in the Owner Handbook that is included with each new vehicle. Information concerning maintenance, periodic inspection for wear and function of the seat belts, as well as for their proper usage is included in the vehicle Owner Handbook and this information equally applies to replacement seat belt assemblies. Many Jaguar and Land Rover Owner Handbooks are also available to the public, free of charge on the Jaguar and Land Rover (GTR) Web sites.

Ford is not aware of any customer or field reports of service seat belt assemblies being incorrectly installed in the subject applications as a result of installation instructions not accompanying the service part. Ford also is not aware of any reports requesting installation instructions.

Ford also informed NHTSA that it has corrected the problem that caused these errors so that they will not be repeated in future production.

In summation, Ford states that it believes that because the noncompliances are inconsequential to motor vehicle safety that no corrective action is warranted.

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.

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the docket and notice number cited at the beginning of this notice and be submitted by any of the following methods:

a. By mail addressed to: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.

b. By hand delivery to U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. The Docket Section is open on weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm except Federal Holidays.

c. Electronically: By logging onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at http://www.regulations.gov/​. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Comments may also be faxed to 1-202-493-2251.

Comments must be written in the English language, and be no greater than 15 pages in length, although there is no limit to the length of necessary attachments to the comments. If comments are submitted in hard copy form, please ensure that two copies are provided. If you wish to receive confirmation that your comments were received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78).

You may view documents submitted to a docket at the address and times given above. You may also view the documents on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for accessing the dockets available at that Web site.

The petition, supporting materials, and all comments received before the close of business on the closing date indicated below will be filed and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials received after the closing date will also be filed and will be considered to the extent possible. When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.

Comment closing date: June 13, 2008.

Start Authority

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

End Authority Start Signature

Issued on: May 8, 2008.

Claude H. Harris,

Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.

End Signature End Preamble

[FR Doc. E8-10730 Filed 5-13-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P