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Notice

Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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Start Preamble

AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Receipt of petition.

SUMMARY:

Mercedes-Benz AG (“MBAG”) and Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (“MBUSA”) (collectively, “Mercedes-Benz”) have determined that certain model year (MY) 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class motor vehicles do not fully comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 104, Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems. Mercedes-Benz filed a noncompliance report dated February 24, 2020, and subsequently petitioned NHTSA on March 12, 2020, for a decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety. This notice announces receipt of Mercedes-Benz's petition.

DATES:

Send comments on or before July 13, 2020.

ADDRESSES:

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the docket and notice number cited in the title of this notice and submitted by any of the following methods:

  • Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.
  • Hand Delivery: Deliver comments by hand to the 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 for Federal holidays.
  • Electronically: Submit comments electronically by logging onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) website at https://www.regulations.gov/​. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Comments may also be faxed to (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 Start Printed Page 35991attachments 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 comments you have submitted by mail were received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

All comments and supporting materials received before the close of business on the closing date indicated above will be filed in the docket and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials received after the closing date will also be filed and will be considered to the fullest extent possible.

When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will also be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority indicated at the end of this notice.

All comments, background documentation, and supporting materials submitted to the docket may be viewed by anyone at the address and times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the internet at https://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for accessing the docket. The docket ID number for this petition is shown in the heading of this notice.

DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available for review in a Federal Register notice published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78).

End Preamble Start Supplemental Information

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Overview: Mercedes-Benz has determined that certain MY 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class motor vehicles do not fully comply with the requirements of paragraph S4.1.2 of FMVSS No. 104, Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems (49 CFR 571.104). Mercedes-Benz filed a noncompliance report dated February 24, 2020, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and noncompliance responsibility and reports, and subsequently petitioned NHTSA on March 12, 2020, for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, Exemption for inconsequential defect or noncompliance.

This notice of receipt of Mercedes-Benz'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.

II. Vehicles Involved: Approximately 4,145 MY 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220 and A220 4MATIC motor vehicles manufactured between August 3, 2018, and November 26, 2019, are potentially involved.

III. Noncompliance: Mercedes-Benz explains that the noncompliance is that the windshield wiping systems in the subject vehicles do not wipe the percentage of the windshield as required by paragraph S4.1.2 of FMVSS No. 104. Specifically, the windshield wiping system may only wipe 93.8% of the windshield instead of the 94% required.

IV. Rule Requirements: Paragraph S4.1.2 of FMVSS No. 104 includes the requirements relevant to this petition. When tested wet in accordance with SAE Recommended Practice J903a (1966), each passenger car windshield wiping system shall wipe the percentage of Areas A, B, and C of the windshield (established in accordance with S4.1.2.1) that (1) is specified in column 2 of the applicable table following subparagraph S4.1.2.1 and (2) is within the area bounded by a perimeter line on the glazing surface 25 millimeters from the edge of the daylight opening.

V. Summary of Mercedes-Benz's Petition: The following views and arguments presented in this section, V. Summary of Mercedes-Benz's Petition, are the views and arguments provided by Mercedes-Benz. They have not been evaluated by the Agency and do not reflect the views of the Agency. Mercedes-Benz described the subject noncompliance and stated their belief that the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.

In support of its petition, Mercedes-Benz submitted the following reasoning:

1. Mercedes-Benz cited the definition of motor vehicle safety as cited in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and their belief that this matter is appropriate for a decision that the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety as it does not present any increased risk to vehicle occupants.

2. They state that, in the subject vehicles, the portion of the windshield that just falls below the minimum wiped area is located at the outer edge of the windshield. In the worst-case scenario, only 93.8%, instead of the minimum 94%, of the Area B portion of the windshield remains unwiped. The affected portion of Area B is located at the outer edge of the passenger's side of the windshield and not in the area located directly in front of the driver's field of view.

3. Mercedes-Benz asserts that NHTSA has previously considered the performance of windshield wiper systems in the context of interpreting the meaning of the term “daylight opening” in FMVSS No. 104. Mercedes-Benz says that in 2003, in response to a request from a manufacturer, NHTSA interpreted that opaque coatings located around the edge of the windshield would not be considered part of the daylight opening for purposes of calculating the starting point of the wiped area. See Letter to Reed, May 6, 2003. This interpretation was an apparent change in approach for several manufacturers. In a request for reconsideration, the industry reported that many vehicles would not meet the minimum wiped portion of Area B based on the Agency's new interpretation. In supporting comments, two manufacturers reported that there were multiple vehicle models that would not meet the 94% minimum requirement for Area B. For one of the manufacturers, all of its vehicles were no more than 93.2% of the Area B minimum, while the other manufacturer did not provide specific information on how far its system deviated from the Area B minimum. After considering the substantial resources necessary to redesign the wiper systems outside of the normal vehicle refresh schedule, the Agency delayed the date on which it would begin enforcement of FMVSS No. 104 based on its updated interpretation. See Letter to Strassburger, January 7, 2005.

4. Thus, while the Agency was alerted to the fact that certain vehicles would not be able to comply with the minimum wiped area requirements of FMVSS No. 104, the Agency delayed implementing enforcement of the new interpretation for several years. While the delay was based, in part on the additional complexities needed to update the vehicle, fundamentally, the small deviation in the minimum wiped area requirement appears to not have been considered one that adversely impacted driver visibility or increased the safety risk to vehicle occupants. In that case, the deviation from the minimum wiped portion of Area B was more than what exists in the subject vehicles. While it is unclear from the interpretation letters what portion of Area B did not meet the minimum wiped requirements, in the subject vehicles, only a narrow strip of a portion of the outer edge of the passenger side of the windshield is affected by the deviation. Due to the location and small size of the unwiped Start Printed Page 35992area, the deviation would not affect the visibility of the driver or their ability to safely operate the vehicle and would not lead to an overall increased safety risk to the vehicle occupants.

5. Mercedes-Benz stated that the windshield wiper systems installed in the subject vehicles otherwise meet or exceed the remaining requirements in FMVSS No. 104 for the wiped portion of Areas A and C, for wiper frequency, and the windshield washing system. Mercedes-Benz has not received any reports related to a lack of visibility due to the performance of the windshield wiping system at issue here.

Mercedes-Benz concluded by expressing the belief that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, and that its petition to be exempted from providing notification of the noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and a remedy for the noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, should be granted.

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, any decision on this petition only applies to the subject vehicles that Mercedes-Benz no longer controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. However, any decision on this petition does not relieve vehicle distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer for sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of the noncompliant vehicles under their control after Mercedes-Benz notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

Start Authority

Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8.

End Authority Start Signature

Otto G. Matheke III,

Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.

End Signature End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 2020-12718 Filed 6-11-20; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P