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Fisker Automotive; Receipt of Application for Temporary Exemption From Advanced Air Bag Requirements of FMVSS No. 208

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


Notice of receipt of petition for temporary exemption from certain provisions of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection.


In accordance with the procedures in 49 CFR part 555, Fisker Automotive Corporation has petitioned the agency for a temporary exemption from certain advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. The basis for the application is that compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard.[1]

This notice of receipt of an application for temporary exemption is published in accordance with statutory provisions. NHTSA has not made any judgment on the merits of the application.


You should submit your comments not later than July 2, 2010.

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Edward Glancy, Office of the Chief Counsel, NCC-112, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building 4th Floor, Room W41-326, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2992; Fax: (202) 366-3820.

Comments: We invite you to submit comments on the application described above. You may submit comments identified by docket number at the heading of this notice by any of the following methods:

  • Web Site: Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the electronic docket site by clicking on “Help and Information” or “Help/Info.”
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
  • Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.Start Printed Page 30901
  • Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below. We will consider all comments received before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated above. To the extent possible, we will also consider comments filed after the closing date.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to at any time or to 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Telephone: (202) 366-9826.

Privacy Act: 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.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit​privacy.html.

Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the address given above. When you send a comment containing information claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

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Fisker Automotive (Fisker) has submitted a petition for exemption from certain requirements of FMVSS No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, pursuant to 49 CFR Part 555, Temporary Exemption from Motor Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards. Specifically, the petition requests an exemption from paragraphs S15, S17, S19, S21, S23, and S25 of FMVSS No. 208, which relate to the advanced air bag requirements. Fisker has requested an exemption for the Karma model, and that the exemption period run from the date of the grant until May 24, 2011.

In recent years, NHTSA has addressed a number of petitions for exemption from the advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. The majority of these requests have come from small manufacturers which have petitioned on the basis of substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard. NHTSA has granted a number of these petitions, usually in situations where the manufacturer is supplying standard air bags in lieu of advanced air bags.[2] In addressing these petitions, NHTSA has recognized that small manufacturers may face particular difficulties in acquiring or developing advanced air bag systems.

The basis for Fisker's application is substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard. According to the petition, Fisker is a privately held company incorporated in the State of Delaware, with headquarters in California. Its total motor vehicle production during the 12 months preceding the filing of the petition was 0 vehicles.

The petitioner stated that the Fisker Karma is a completely new passenger car model. Design and development of the Karma began in late 2007. The Karma is being designed and developed to meet all applicable FMVSS and EEC regulations, including the installation of eight air bags on the coupe version and six air bags on the convertible version. Fisker stated the air bag system is being developed through cooperation with Takata, Tass, and Bosch, which have been granted contracts to complete the development of the air bag systems. The petitioner stated that these companies were retained in 2008/2009 and are continuing the efforts to develop an air bag system that is fully compliant with the requirements of FMVSS No. 208.

Fisker stated that it subcontracted the advanced air bag system development to experienced outside companies, and that the air bag development costs represent a very significant expenditure to the company. It cited a $7,714,857 cost figure, and provided information about what that figure includes. Fisker stated that without a temporary exemption, which would enable the company to generate funds through the sale of vehicles, it may not be able to sustain the air bag and vehicle development programs, causing substantial financial economic hardship to the company. Fisker stated that it estimates that full compliance with FMVSS No. 208 will be achieved before May 24, 2011.

The petitioner stated that if the exemption petition is approved, the Karma models sold under the exemption will be compliant with all FMVSS regulations with the exception of certain sections of FMVSS No. 208. Fisker stated that the coupe version will be equipped with eight functional air bags (front, side, knee and curtain air bags), and the convertible version will be equipped with six functional air bags (front, side and knee air bags). Both versions will include seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters. Also, according to the petitioner, both models will be compliant with the 50th percentile unbelted test requirements contained in section 13 of the standard.

Fisker argued that sales of the Karma are in the public interest. It stated that the Karma “is leading the way towards the introduction of advanced low-emission vehicle technologies to the US and world markets.” Fisker stated that the Karma will be the first plug-in hybrid passenger car available for purchase by the general public. It also cited benefits of employment opportunities.

Upon receiving a petition, NHTSA conducts an initial review of the petition with respect to whether the petition is complete and whether the petitioner appears to be eligible to apply for the requested petition. The agency has tentatively concluded that the petition is complete and the petitioner eligible to apply for the requested petition. The agency has not made any judgment on the merits of the application, and is placing a non-confidential copy of the petition in the docket.

We are providing a 30-day comment period. After considering public comments and other available information, we will publish a notice of final action on the application in the Federal Register.

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Issued on: May 26, 2010.

Stephen R. Kratzke,

Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.

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1.  To view the application, go to and enter the docket number set forth in the heading of this document.

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2.  See, e.g., grant of petition to Panoz, 72 FR 28759 (May 22, 2007), or grant of petition to Koenigsegg, 72 FR 17608 (April 9, 2007).

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[FR Doc. 2010-13122 Filed 6-1-10; 8:45 am]