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Notice

Michelin North America, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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ACTION:

Receipt of Petition.

SUMMARY:

Michelin North America, Inc.[1] (MNA) has determined that certain Michelin brand passenger car replacement tires, do not fully comply with paragraph S5.5 [2] of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 139, New pneumatic radial tires for light vehicles. MNA has filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports (dated June 2, 2011).

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

Tires involved: Affected are approximately 17,500 Michelin Primacy MXV4 TL passenger car replacement tires labeled as sizes P205 65 R15 94H, P205 65 R15 94V, and P225 55 R17 97H that were manufactured by SC Michelin Romania SA in Victoria, Romania between January 9, 2011 and May 28, 2011.

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. Therefore, these provisions only apply to the subject 17,500 [3] Michelin Primacy MXV4 TL passenger car replacement tires that MNA no longer controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed.

Paragraph S5.5 of FMVSS No. 139 requires in pertinent part:

S5.5 Tire markings. Except as specified in paragraphs (a) through (i) of S5.5 each tire must be marked on each sidewall with the information specified in S5.5 (a) through (d) and on one sidewall with the information specified in S5.5 (e) through (i) according to the phase-in schedule specified in S7 of this standard. The markings must be placed between the maximum section width and the bead on at least one sidewall, unless the maximum section width of the tire is located in an area that is not more than one-fourth of the distance from the bead to the shoulder of the tire. If the maximum section width falls within that area, those markings must appear between the bead and a point one-half the distance from the bead to the shoulder of the tire, on at least one sidewall. The markings must be in letters and numerals not less than 0.078 inches high and raised above or sunk below the tire surface not less than 0.015 inches* * *

(b) The tire size designation as listed in the documents and publications specified in S4.1.1 of this standard;* * *

Noncompliance: MNA explained that the noncompliance is a tire sidewall labeling error. A prefix letter “P” was inadvertently added to the tire size designation required by paragraph S5.5 (b) by FMVSS No. 139.

The tire was designed to comply with the ETRTO standard for maximum load and inflation pressure. The Max Load and Max Pressure markings on the tire are correct and the tire passes all certification requirements at the marked loads/pressures under 49 CFR 571.139. The mix of ETRTO loads with the “P”-metric size designation causes the tire to be noncompliant with both the ETRTO standard and the T&RA standard, thus becoming noncompliant with the labeling requirements of 49 CPR Part 571.139 S5.5. All other markings are compliant with the FMVSS requirements.

MNA stated its belief that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for the following reasons:

(1) Both the 205/65 R15 and the 225/55 R17 radial tires, each tire was originally conceived as a Euro-metric radial tire. Both tires when certifying to DOT requirements were tested in accordance with safety standard FMVSS No. 139 as well as the ETRTO standard for dimensions, pressure, load, and performance. To which the subject tires meet or exceed all of the minimum performance requirements for FMVSS No. 139 at the load and pressure marked on the respective sidewall.

(2) The P-metric version of the tire dimensions specify a maximum load and pressure that is less than the maximum load and associated pressure of the Euro-metric dimension. Performace capabilities as P-metric dimensions exceed all P-metric requirements.

(3) Should the subject tires be selected and fitted based on their markings, no possibility of tire overloading exists.

(4) The P-metric dimensional marks on the subject tires would be treated as such in the replacement market. Which at the dealer or consumer level, the inconsistency between the dimensional marking and the maximum load marking may lead to some confusion at the time of installation but fitment would still be acceptable.

(5) Whether the tires are fitted as P-metric dimensions per the current industry fitment guide, or fitted according to the subject tire's sidewall's maximum load. These tires do not risk the possibility of being overloaded when making a replacement tire selection for vehicle fitment.

In addition, MNA states that it has corrected the problem that caused the noncompliance so that it will not reoccur in future production.

In summation, MNA believes that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that its petition, to exempt it from providing recall notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the recall noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120 should be granted.

Comments: 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 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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.

Documents submitted to a docket may be viewed by anyone at the address and times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for accessing the dockets. DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available for review in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000, (65 FR 19477-78).

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.

DATES:

Comment closing date: May 4, 2012.

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

Claude H. Harris,

Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.

Footnotes

1.  Michelin North America, Inc. is a New York corporation that manufactures and imports motor vehicle replacement equipment.

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2.  In its petition MNA states its belief that the subject tires do not meet the load marking requirements of 49 CFR 571.139 S5.5(d). However, the actual noncompliance is due to an error in the tire size designation marking required by 49 CFR 571.139 S5.5(b) which causes the load marking to appear to be incorrect.

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3.  MNA's petition, which was filed under 49 CFR part 556, requests an agency decision to exempt MNA as a motor vehicle replacement equipment manufacturer from the notification and recall responsibilities of 49 CFR part 573 for 17,500 of the affected vehicles. However, a decision on this petition cannot relieve vehicle distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of the noncompliant tires under their control after MNA notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

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[FR Doc. 2012-8051 Filed 4-3-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P