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Notice

Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Ford Motor Company

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Grant of petition for exemption.

SUMMARY:

This document grants in full the petition of Ford Motor Company (Ford) in accordance with § 543.9(c)(2) of 49 CFR Part 543, Exemption from the Theft Prevention Standard, for the Ford Mercury Mariner vehicle line beginning with model year (MY) 2010. 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.

DATES:

The exemption granted by this notice is effective beginning with model year (MY) 2010.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Carlita Ballard, Office of International Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer Programs, NHTSA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Ms. Ballard's telephone number is (202) 366-0846. Her fax number is (202) 493-2290.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In a petition dated September 18, 2008, Ford requested an exemption from the parts-marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard (49 CFR Part 541) for the Mercury Mariner vehicle line beginning with MY 2010. The petition requested an exemption from parts-marking pursuant to 49 CFR Part 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard, based on the installation of an antitheft device as standard equipment for an entire vehicle line.

Under § 543.5(a), a manufacturer may petition NHTSA to grant exemptions for one vehicle line per model year. Ford has petitioned the agency to grant an exemption for its Mercury Mariner vehicle line beginning with MY 2010. In its petition, Ford provided a detailed description and diagram of the identity, design, and location of the components of the antitheft device for the Mercury Mariner vehicle line. Ford will install its passive transponder-based electronic immobilizer antitheft device as standard equipment on the vehicle line. Features of the antitheft device will include an electronic key, ignition lock, and a passive immobilizer. The system does not include an audible or visual alarm as standard equipment. Ford's submission 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.

The antitheft device to be installed on the MY 2010 Mercury Mariner is the SecuriLock Passive Antitheft Electronic Engine Immobilizer System (SecuriLock). The Ford SecuriLock is a transponder-based electronic immobilizer system. Ford stated that the integration of the transponder into the normal operation of the ignition key assures activation of the system. When the ignition key is turned to the start position, the transceiver module reads the ignition key code and transmits an encrypted message to the cluster. Validation of the key is determined and start of the engine is authorized once a separate encrypted message is sent to the powertrain's control module (PCM). The powertrain will function only if the key code matches the unique identification key code previously programmed into the PCM. If the codes do not match, the powertrain engine starter, spark and fuel will be disabled. Ford also stated that the SecuriLock electronic engine immobilizer device makes conventional theft methods such as hot-wiring or attacking the ignition lock cylinder ineffective and virtually eliminates drive-away thefts. The cluster and PCM share security data when first installed during vehicle assembly form matched modules. Ford stated that as an additional measure of security, these matched modules will not function in other vehicles if they are separated from each other. Ford also stated that key duplication would virtually be impossible because its key is encrypted with many different codes (18 quintillion).

Ford stated that there were only two years of reported theft rates available for the Mercury Mariner, but its Escape vehicle line which is comparable in design, size and equipment to the Mariner is installed with the proposed device. The Ford Escape vehicle line had an average theft rate using 5 MY's data (2001-2005) of 1.4215 and was granted an exemption from the parts marking standard (Part 541) beginning with the 2009 model year. Ford stated that the exceptionally low theft rate (0.6968) for MY 2006 Mariner vehicles is likely to continue or improve in future years. The theft rate using an average of two MY's data (2005-2006) for Mariner vehicles is 0.7913.

Additionally, Ford noted the reduction in the theft rate for other vehicle lines equipped with the SecuriLock device. Ford's SecuriLock device was first introduced as standard equipment on it's MY 1996 Mustang GT and Cobra vehicle lines. The SecuriLock system was installed on the entire Mustang vehicle line as standard equipment in MY 1997. Ford stated that according to National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) theft statistics, the 1997 model year Mustang with SecuriLock showed a 70% reduction in theft compared to its MY 1995 Mustang vehicles. Comparatively, Ford stated that there were 149 thefts reported in 1997 and 500 thefts reported in 1995.

In addressing the specific content requirements of 543.6, Ford provided information on the reliability and durability of its proposed device. To ensure reliability and durability of the device, Ford conducted tests based on its own specified standards. Ford provided a detailed list of the tests conducted and believes that the device is reliable and durable since the device complied with its specified requirements for each test.

The agency also notes that the device will provide four of the five types of performance listed in § 543.6(a)(3): promoting activation; 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.

Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 33106 and 49 CFR 543.7(b), the agency grants a petition for exemption from the parts-marking requirements of Part 541 either in whole or in part, if it determines that, based upon substantial evidence, the standard equipment antitheft device is likely to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking requirements of Part 541. The agency finds that Ford has provided adequate reasons for its belief that the antitheft device for the Mercury Mariner vehicle Start Printed Page 71722line 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). This conclusion is based on the information Ford provided about its device.

For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full Ford's petition for exemption for the Mercury Mariner 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. 49 CFR Part 543.7(f) contains publication requirements incident to the disposition of all Part 543 petitions. Advanced listing, including the release of future product nameplates, the beginning model year for which the petition is granted and a general description of the antitheft device is necessary in order to notify law enforcement agencies of new vehicle lines exempted from the parts-marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard.

If Ford decides not to use the exemption for this line, it must 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 Ford 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 might 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: November 20, 2008.

Stephen R. Kratzke,

Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.

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[FR Doc. E8-27962 Filed 11-24-08; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P