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Notice

BMW of North America, LLC, a Subsidiary of BMW AG, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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ACTION:

Receipt of petition.

SUMMARY:

BMW of North America, LLC (BMW),[1] a subsidiary of BMW AG,[2] Munich, Germany, has determined that certain model year 2012 MINI Cooper Countryman passenger cars with optional three passenger rear seating manufactured between August 1, 2011 and May 23, 2012, do not fully comply with paragraph S4.3(b) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 110, Tire selection and rims and motor home/recreation vehicle trailer load carrying capacity information for motor vehicles with a GVWR of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) or less. BMW has filed an appropriate report dated June 1, 2012, 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), BMW submitted a petition 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 BMW'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.

Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 5,700 model year 2012 MINI Cooper Countryman passenger vehicles with optional three passenger rear seating manufactured between August 1, 2011 and May 23, 2012.

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 5,700 [3] vehicles that BMW no longer controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed.

Noncompliance: BMW explains that the noncompliance is that the vehicle placard on the affected vehicles incorrectly identifies the rear designated seating capacity as “2” when in fact it should be “3,” and the total designated seating capacity as “4” when in fact it should be “5.”

Rule Text: Paragraph S4.3(b) 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), * * *, on a placard permanently affixed to the driver's side B-pillar. * * *

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

Summary of BMW'S Analysis and Arguments

BMW states that while the vehicle placard incorrectly identifies the vehicle seating capacity, this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for the following reasons:

1. It would become clear to a vehicle owner that the rear seat of the affected vehicles contains three sets of seat belts, and provides adequate space for three people to occupy the rear seat and that the vehicle in fact does accommodate five passengers not four as labeled.

2. The tire pressure value on the vehicle placard is correct. In fact, the recommended tire inflation pressure for both the five passenger and the four passenger vehicles is the same. Therefore, there is no risk of under-inflation.

3. The vehicle capacity weight listed on the vehicle placard is correct, and is the same for Countryman model vehicles built for four or five occupants. Therefore, there is no risk of overloading.

4. The vehicle's Monroney label [4] contains a listing of all options that have been equipped on the affected vehicles. The option regarding the rear seat for three occupants is noted on the Monroney label; therefore, an owner would have been notified at time of purchase of the vehicle that the rear seat is equipped to accommodate three occupants.

5. The vehicle Owner's Manual contains information pertaining to the vehicle's tires, tire pressure, and the vehicle capacity weight. Therefore, if owners check the Owner's Manual, correct information is available for their use.

6. BMW also provides vehicle drivers with help determining the correct tire, tire pressure and loading information by way of toll-free telephone numbers for MINI Roadside AssistanceTM (available 24 hours/day)and MINI Customer Relations.

7. BMW has received no customer complaints and are unaware of any accidents or injuries regarding this noncompliance of the affected vehicles.

BMW has additionally informed NHTSA that it has corrected future production and that all other required markings are present and correct.

BMW also expressed its belief that NHTSA has previously granted similar petitions.

In summation, BMW believes that the described noncompliance of its vehicle placards regarding seating capacity is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that its petition, to exempt 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.

Comment Closing Date: October 15, 2012.

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

Issued on: September 6, 2012.

Claude H. Harris, Director,

Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.

Footnotes

1.  BMW of North America, LLC, is a U.S. company that manufacturers and imports motor vehicles.

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2.  BMW AG, is a German company that manufacturers motor vehicles.

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3.  BMW's petition, which was filed under 49 CFR part 556, requests an agency decision to exempt BMW as a vehicle manufacturer from the notification and recall responsibilities of 49 CFR part 573 for the 5,700 affected vehicles. However, a decision on this petition will not 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 vehicles under their control after BMW notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

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4.  Automobile Information Disclosure Act (AIDA), 15 U.S.C. 1231-1233

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[FR Doc. 2012-22569 Filed 9-12-12; 8:45 am]

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