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Notice

Ford Motor Company, Grant 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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Ford Motor Company (Ford) has determined that certain complete model year 2007-2008 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPV) built with the Limousine Builders Package and certain complete 2008 model year Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (CVPI) passenger cars built with two front bucket seats did not fully comply with paragraph S4.3(b) of 49 CFR 571.110 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 110, Tire Selection and Rims, for Motor Vehicles With a GVWR of 4,536 Kilograms (10,000 Pounds) or Less). 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) and the rule implementing those provisions 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. Notice of receipt of the petition was Start Printed Page 69374published, with a 30-day public comment period, on December 19, 2008, in the Federal Register (73 FR 77874). No comments were received. To view the petition and all supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management System Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/​. Then follow the online search instructions to locate docket number “NHTSA-2008-0183.”

For further information on this decision, contact Mr. John Finneran, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-0645, facsimile (202) 366-7097.

Affected are approximately 233 model year 2007-2008 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator MPVs with the Limousine Builders Package (built from September 6, 2006 through March 12, 2008, at Ford's Michigan Truck Plant) and approximately 34,682 model year 2008 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor passenger cars equipped with two front bucket seats (built from June 27, 2007, through May 7, 2008, at Ford's St. Thomas Assembly Plant).

Paragraph S4.3 of FMVSS No. 110 requires in pertinent part:

S4.3 Placard. Each vehicle, except for a trailer or incomplete vehicle, shall show the information specified in S4.3(a) through (g), and may show, at the manufacturer's option, the information specified in S4.3(h) and (i), on a placard permanently affixed to the driver's side B-pillar. In each vehicle without a driver's side B-pillar and with two doors on the driver's side of the vehicle opening in opposite directions, the placard shall be affixed on the forward edge of the rear side door. If the above locations do not permit the affixing of a placard that is legible, visible and prominent, the placard shall be permanently affixed to the rear edge of the driver's side door. If this location does not permit the affixing of a placard that is legible, visible and prominent, the placard shall be affixed to the inward facing surface of the vehicle next to the driver's seating position. This information shall be in the English language and conform in color and format, not including the border surrounding the entire placard, as shown in the example set forth in Figure 1 in this standard. At the manufacturer's option, the information specified in S4.3(c), (d), and, as appropriate, (h) and (i) may be shown, alternatively to being shown on the placard, on a tire inflation pressure label which must conform in color and format, not including the border surrounding the entire label, as shown in the example set forth in Figure 2 in this standard. The label shall be permanently affixed and proximate to the placard required by this paragraph. The information specified in S4.3 (e) shall be shown on both the vehicle placard and on the tire inflation pressure label (if such a label is affixed to provide the information specified in S4.3(c), (d), and, as appropriate, (h) and (i)) may be shown in the format and color scheme set forth in Figures 1 and 2 * * *

(b) Designated seated capacity (expressed in terms of total number of occupants and number of occupants for each front and rear seat location) * * *

In its petition, Ford explained that the noncompliances with FMVSS No. 110 exist due to errors on the tire and loading information placards that it affixed to the vehicles. Ford described the noncompliances as incorrect listing of designated seating positions on the tire and loading information placard. Specifically:

1. Expedition and Navigator vehicles with the Limo Builders Package are built with only two front seats. No rear seats are installed. The tire information placard identifies the seating capacity as five total (two front; three rear) or seven total (two front; five rear), instead of two total (two front; zero rear).

2. CVPI passenger cars with two front bucket seats—the designated seating capacity was incorrectly identified as six total (three front; three rear) instead of five total (two front; three rear).

Ford also explained its belief that in each of these cases the number of seats and the number of safety belts installed in the vehicle will clearly indicate to the customers the actual seating capacity. Ford also declared its belief that NHTSA has reached a similar conclusion that the presence of seat belts will alert the operators to the number of seating positions in any row of seating. Ford specifically details its reasoning as follows:

In the case of the Expedition and Navigator vehicles built with the Limo Builders Package are equipped with only two front seats and two sets of safety belts when delivered to the Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM). When the QVM completes the modifications to the vehicles, the final number of seating positions will be specified on the label required to be affixed by the QVM.

In the case of the CVPI vehicles that are equipped with front bucket seats, the seats are separated by approximately 11 inches and Ford believes that nearly all of these vehicles will have a center console (typically used to mount police equipment such as lap top computers, communications radios, siren and lighting controls, etc.) installed by the aftermarket upfitters who perform police vehicle conversions.

Ford stated that in all cases, the weight capacity, the tire size designation and the cold tire inflation pressure data listed on the tire and loading information placard is correct for the vehicles on which they are installed. Ford additionally stated that because the weight capacity is accurate, it believes that there is no potential for vehicle overloading due to the incorrect value in the designated seating capacity.

Ford also stated that it was not aware of any field or owner complaints of misunderstanding of the actual number of seats in these vehicles.

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

Subsequent to submitting the petition Ford has additionally informed the agency that none of the subject vehicles could have been newly purchased by the general public. The subject Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator MPVs were sold only to Qualified Vehicle Modifiers (QVM) approved by Ford. These modifiers were provided with specific instructions by Ford to install new tire information labels if the information on the labels installed by Ford are not accurate prior to the first retail sale of a vehicle. The modifications normally performed by QVM require them to install supplementary certification labels. See 49 CFR 567.7. The subject Ford CVPI passenger cars could only be ordered by government agencies and normally have police equipment mounted on the center console by vehicle modifiers as directed by the purchasing agencies.

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

NHTSA Decision

NHTSA agrees with Ford that this noncompliance will not have an adverse effect on vehicle safety. In the agency's judgment, the presence of seat belts in the subject vehicles will alert vehicle users to the number of intended seating positions. The presence or absence of the large center console between the front bucket seats of the CVPI vehicles should alert vehicle users to the absence of seating positions. Because the QVM normally add additional seating to the vehicles they alter it is likely that they will be replacing the labels originally placed on the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator vehicles by Ford. If the QVM do not add additional seating, the absence of rear seats in the Expedition and Navigator vehicles with the Limo Builders Package should alert vehicle users to the absence of seating positions.

In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that Ford has met its burden of persuasion that the subject FMVSS No. 110 labeling noncompliances are inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Ford's petition is granted and the Start Printed Page 69375petitioner is exempted from the obligation of providing notification of, and a remedy for, the subject noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.

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

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Issued on: December 23, 2009.

Claude Harris,

Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.

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[FR Doc. E9-31080 Filed 12-30-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P