Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
In 2000, Congress enacted the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act. Public Law 106-414. Up until the TREAD Act's enactment, NHTSA relied primarily on analyses of complaints from consumers and technical service bulletins (TSBs) from manufacturers to identify safety defects in motor vehicles and equipment. Congress concluded that NHTSA did not have access to data that may provide an earlier warning of safety defects. Accordingly, the TREAD Act included requirements that NHTSA prescribe rules requiring motor vehicle and equipment manufacturers to submit to NHTSA communications relating to defective equipment, information about foreign safety recalls and establishing early warning reporting requirements.
Responding to the TREAD Act requirements in 2002, NHTSA issued rules requiring that motor vehicle and equipment manufacturers provide communications regarding defective equipment, information on foreign safety recalls and certain early warning data. 49 CFR part 579;
• Monthly reporting of manufacturer communications (
• Reporting (within five days of a determination to take such an action) of information concerning foreign safety recalls and other safety campaigns in foreign countries; and
• Quarterly reporting of early warning information: production information; information on incidents involving death or injury; aggregate data on property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, and field reports; and copies of field reports (other than dealer reports) involving specified vehicle components, a fire, or a rollover.
We use the term “Early Warning Reporting” (EWR) here to apply to the requirements in the third category above, which are found at 49 CFR part 579, subpart C. As described more fully in the Background section, below, the requirements vary somewhat depending on the nature of the reporting entity (motor vehicle manufacturers, child restraint system manufacturers, tire manufacturers, and other equipment manufacturers) and the annual production of the entity. All of the EWR information NHTSA receives is stored in a database called ARTEMIS (which stands for Advanced Retrieval, Tire, Equipment, and Motor Vehicle Information System), which also contains additional information (
The Early Warning Division of the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) reviews and analyzes a huge volume of manufacturer early warning data and documents. Using its traditional sources of information, such as complaints from vehicle owner questionnaires (VOQs) and manufacturers' own communications, and the additional information provided by EWR submissions, ODI investigates potential safety defects. These investigations often result in recalls. In 2008, for example, manufacturers recalled more than 8 million vehicles for defective conditions. The majority of the vehicles recalled were from recalls prompted by ODI investigations.
The TREAD Act requires that NHTSA periodically review its EWR rules. 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(5). In previous EWR rulemakings, the agency indicated that we would begin a review of the EWR rule after two full years of reporting experience.
NHTSA evaluated the EWR rule in two phases. NHTSA completed phase one in 2007 and, after notice and comment, published a final rule on May 29, 2007. 72 FR 29435. The May 2007 final rule made three changes to the EWR rule. First, the agency eliminated the requirement to produce hard copies of a subset of field reports known as “product evaluation reports.”
On December 5, 2008, the agency issued a notice of proposed rulemaking containing the second part of our evaluation of the EWR rule. This final rule amends the EWR rule based upon that evaluation.
The early warning reporting rule requires that certain manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment submit information to NHTSA that could assist in the identification of safety-related defects. 49 CFR part 579, subpart C. The amount and frequency of reporting required of a
Manufacturers of light vehicles, motorcycles, or trailers producing 500 or more units per year must submit quarterly reports. Manufacturers of light vehicles, motorcycles or trailers producing fewer than 500 units annually do not submit quarterly reports. Instead these smaller manufacturers are required to report to NHTSA when they receive a claim or notice identifying an incident that involves a death. 49 CFR 579.27.
Today's final rule raises the EWR quarterly reporting threshold for light vehicle manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers and trailer manufacturers from 500 or more units to 5,000 or more units per year. Light vehicle, motorcycle and trailer manufacturers producing fewer than 5,000 units per year will now have to submit only information related to incidents involving fatalities.
Prior to today's rule, the EWR regulation required that medium-heavy vehicle and bus manufacturers producing 500 or more units per year submit EWR reports. Manufacturers whose production volume is below this threshold are required to submit information only on incidents involving a fatality. With two exceptions, today's final rule raises the EWR quarterly reporting threshold to an annual production of 5,000 or more vehicles. However, manufacturers of emergency vehicles producing 500 or more units per year must still file quarterly reports. For buses, the threshold is reduced to 100 or more buses produced annually.
Today's final rule also adds a new requirement requiring vehicle and equipment manufacturers to provide consistent naming conventions for their products from quarter to quarter.
Last, today's final rule amends two subsections of 49 CFR 573.6 to add language stating that tire manufacturers' recall reports include the tire identification number (TIN) of all tires within the scope of a recall and that all Part 573 Defect or Noncompliance Information Reports identify a recalled component's country of origin. Specifically, we are amending 49 CFR 573.6(c)(2)(iii) to require a range of TINs and 573.6(c)(2)(iv) to identify the recalled component's country of origin.
On July 10, 2002, NHTSA published a rule implementing the early warning reporting provisions of the TREAD Act. 67 FR 45822. This EWR regulation divides manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment into two groups with different reporting responsibilities. The first group consists of (a) larger vehicle manufacturers (manufacturers of 500 or more vehicles annually) producing light vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles and buses, trailers and/or motorcycles; (b) tire manufacturers producing over a certain number per tire line; and (c) all manufacturers of child restraints. The first group must submit comprehensive reports every calendar quarter. 49 CFR 579.21-26. The second group consists of smaller vehicle manufacturers (e.g., manufacturers of fewer than 500 vehicles annually) and all motor vehicle equipment manufacturers other than those in the first group. The second group has limited reporting responsibility. 49 CFR 579.27.
Manufacturers in the first group must submit comprehensive quarterly reports for each make and model for the calendar year of the report and nine previous model years. Tire and child restraint manufacturers must transmit comprehensive reports for the calendar year of the report and four previous production years. Each report is subdivided so that the information on each make and model is provided by specified vehicle systems and components. The vehicle systems or components involved vary depending upon the type of vehicle or equipment manufactured.
In addition to the systems and components reported by light vehicle manufacturers, medium-heavy vehicle and bus manufactures must report on the following systems or components: service brake system air, fuel system diesel, fuel system other and trailer hitch.
Motorcycle manufacturers report on thirteen systems or components: steering, suspension, service brake system, engine and engine cooling system, fuel system, power train, electrical, exterior lighting, structure, vehicle speed control, tires, wheels and fire.
Trailer manufacturers report on twelve systems or components: suspension, service brake system-hydraulic, service brake system-air, parking brake, electrical system, exterior lighting, structure, latch, tires, wheels, trailer hitch and fire.
Child restraint and tire manufacturers report on fewer systems or components for the calendar year of the report and four previous model years. Child restraint manufacturers must report on four systems or components: buckle and restraint harness, seat shell, handle and base. Tire manufacturers must report on four systems or components: tread, sidewall, bead and other.
In general (not all of these requirements apply to manufacturers of child restraints or tires), manufacturers that submit comprehensive reports must report information on:
• Production (the cumulative total of vehicles or items of equipment manufactured in the year).
• Incidents involving death or injury based on claims and notices received by the manufacturer.
• Claims relating to property damage received by the manufacturer.
• Warranty claims paid by the manufacturer pursuant to a warranty program (in the tire industry these are warranty adjustment claims).
• Consumer complaints (a communication by a consumer to the manufacturer that expresses dissatisfaction with the manufacturer's product or performance of its product or an alleged defect).
• Field reports (a report prepared by an employee or representative of the manufacturer concerning the failure, malfunction, lack of durability or other performance problem of a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment).
The reporting information on property damage claims, warranty claims, consumer complaints and field reports is in the form of numerical tallies, by specified system and component. These data are referred to as aggregate data. Reports on deaths or injuries contain specified data elements. In addition, manufacturers that submit comprehensive reports, other than tire manufacturers, are required to submit copies of non-dealer field reports.
In contrast to the comprehensive quarterly reports required of the first group, the second group does not have to provide quarterly reports. These manufacturers must only submit death incident information when they receive a claim or notice of a fatality.
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30119, a manufacturer is required to notify the Secretary if the manufacturer determines that a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety or does not comply with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard. 49 CFR part 573
Section 573.6 specifies the information that manufacturers are required to submit to the agency. An important element of the notice to NHTSA is the identification of the component containing the defect or
The December 5, 2008 NPRM proposed to raise the EWR quarterly reporting threshold for light vehicle manufacturers and trailer manufacturers from 500 to 5,000 or more vehicles per year. Those light vehicle and trailer manufacturers producing fewer than 5,000 units per year would submit information on incidents involving a death under section 579.27. We also proposed to eliminate the reporting threshold for bus manufacturers, which would require all bus manufacturers to provide comprehensive quarterly EWR reports. The proposal left the quarterly reporting threshold for medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers and motorcycles unchanged at 500 or more vehicles per year.
The NPRM also responded to the National Truck Equipment Association's (NTEA) petition for rulemaking. NTEA petitioned the agency to undertake a rulemaking to raise the threshold for all vehicle manufacturers from 500 to 5,000 units per year or, alternatively, sought to exempt final stage manufacturers from quarterly EWR reporting. The agency did not propose amendments as requested by NTEA, but requested comments on our decision to keep the threshold for quarterly EWR reports for medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers unchanged.
The agency proposed to add new provisions requiring vehicle and equipment manufacturers to use consistent quarter to quarter product naming conventions or provide NHTSA with timely notice of any changes, and to require light vehicle manufacturers to include the vehicle type in the aggregate portion of their quarterly EWR reports.
Additionally, we proposed to add electronic stability control as a component to the light vehicle reporting category and require that manufacturers specify fuel and/or propulsion systems when providing model designations to capture new technologies in the light vehicle market.
Finally, we proposed to amend two subsections of section 573.6. Specifically, we proposed to amend 573.6(c)(2)(iii) to require tire manufacturers to report tire identification numbers (TINs) of recalled tires and 573.6(c)(2)(iv) to require manufacturers to identify the country of origin of a recalled component that is the subject of a recall. We also proposed to add language to section 573.9 to facilitate the submission of reports affected by the proposal to require TINs.
We received comments from several sources in response to the NPRM. Motor vehicle manufacturers and associated trade organizations commenting included the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance), Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM), Ford Motor Company (Ford), Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA), Jayco, Inc. (Jayco), Big-Tex Trailer Manufacturing (Big-Tex), PJ Trailer Manufacturing (PJ Trailer), Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), National Truck Equipment Associated (NTEA), Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM), National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), and Carry-On Trailer Corporation (Carry-On). In general, the industry commenters supported the proposals to raise the reporting threshold for light vehicle manufacturers and trailer manufacturers. Some commenters requested a subset of their vehicle population, based upon either geography or size of their subsidiaries, be exempted from the light vehicle reporting category.
Some individual trailer manufacturers objected to raising the threshold from 500 units to 5,000 units annually. These manufacturers stated that by raising the threshold to 5,000 units per year would prevent the agency from receiving information from manufacturers of the heaviest, and, in their view, more dangerous trailers.
NTEA opposed the agency's decision to not raise the threshold for medium-heavy vehicles and buses. It stated that the burden on its members that are small multi-stage or final-stage vehicle manufacturers to collect and report EWR information outweighs any safety benefits.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) submitted comments supporting the NPRM, but requested NHTSA reconsider raising the reporting threshold for buses, medium-heavy vehicles and motorcycles to 5,000 units per year to determine whether the burden reduction would be appropriate for these categories as well.
Most commenters acknowledged the problems associated with inconsistent model names, but opposed the addition of a category to the EWR reporting template indicating if a model was a new (“n”) model or current model, (“h” for historical). These commenters suggested keeping a requirement for consistent model naming, but not adding the “n” or an “h” in the EWR reporting template.
Light vehicle industry commenters objected to the proposals to add new codes for electronic stability control (ESC) and fuel or propulsion systems because the changes to their data collection system and reporting templates would be costly and overly burdensome. These commenters requested that the agency hold a public meeting to review these proposed changes to the EWR reporting templates followed by an additional comment period.
Commenters addressing the proposed amendments to part 573 did not object to requiring tire manufacturers to submit TINs for recalled tires. On the proposal to add a country of origin reporting requirement, MEMA and the Alliance requested that the proposed country of origin requirement be changed such that the information would be provided at a time later than the initial report if that information was not available at the time. TTMA objected to the proposal and said reporting country of origin information, among other things, would be overly burdensome since motor vehicles are comprised of hundreds of parts from many vendors that may reside in the U.S., but whose manufacturing facilities may be overseas.
We also received comments from Safety Research Strategies, Inc. (SRS) and Vehicle Services Consulting, Inc. (VSCI). While SRS did not oppose the proposed amendments in the NPRM related to Part 573, it commented that NHTSA should amend its process for tire recalls. VSCI recommended that the agency increase the threshold for EWR quarterly reports for motorcycles to 2,500 units, as a compromise between the burden on smaller motorcycle manufacturers and the potential safety benefit from motorcycle EWR data.
Today's final rule differs from the proposed rule in several respects. First, after review of the comments and further consideration, we have decided to raise or amend the thresholds for medium-heavy vehicles and buses and motorcycles. The NPRM proposed to keep the quarterly reporting threshold for medium-heavy vehicles and motorcycles at 500 or more vehicles per year and eliminate the threshold for buses. As explained below, the final rule raises the threshold for quarterly EWR reports on most classes of medium-heavy vehicles from 500 or more vehicles to 5,000 or more vehicles annually, with two exceptions. These exceptions are for emergency vehicles and buses. For emergency vehicles, the threshold remains unchanged at 500 or more vehicles per year. For buses, the final rule sets a threshold of 100 or more buses per year. In addition, the final rule raises the quarterly reporting threshold for motorcycles from 500 or more units to 5,000 or more units per year.
NHTSA has decided not to adopt at this time the proposals to change the light vehicle reporting template. Those proposals sought to require light vehicle manufacturers to include the vehicle type in the aggregate portion of their quarterly EWR reports, report on use of electronic stability control in light vehicles and specify fuel and/or propulsion systems when providing model designations. Instead of proceeding to issue a final rule at this time, we have decided to issue a separate NPRM on these issues in the near future. Among other things, our December 2008 NPRM did not include a proposed template or definitions for the types of fuel and/or propulsion systems. We believe that an additional round of comments on the proposed template and fuel and/or propulsion system definitions will permit more meaningful comments and consideration of the proposed template and definitions.
Under the early warning reporting provisions of the TREAD Act, NHTSA is required to issue a rule establishing reporting requirements for manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to enhance the agency's ability to carry out the provisions of Chapter 301 of Title 49, United States Code, which is commonly referred to as the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, as amended and recodified (Safety Act). 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(1), (2). Under one subsection of the early warning provisions, NHTSA is to require reports of information in the manufacturers' possession to the extent that such information may assist in the identification of safety-related defects and which concern,
The agency's discretion is not unfettered. Under 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(4)(D), the Secretary shall not impose requirements unduly burdensome to a manufacturer of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, taking into account the manufacturer's cost of complying with such requirements and the Secretary's ability to use the information sought in a meaningful manner to assist in the identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety.
The Safety Act also requires manufacturers of motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment to notify NHTSA and owners and purchasers of the vehicle or equipment if the manufacturer determines that a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety or does not comply with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard. 49 U.S.C. 30118(b) (c). Manufacturers must provide notification pursuant to the procedures set forth in section 30119 of the Safety Act. Section 30119 sets forth the contents of the notification, which includes a clear description of the defect or noncompliance, the timing of the notification, means of providing notification and when a second notification is required. 49 U.S.C. 30119. Subsection (a) of section 30119 confers considerable authority and discretion to NHTSA, by rulemaking, to require additional information in manufacturers' notifications.
As part of our evaluation of the reporting thresholds for comprehensive reporting under the EWR rule and in this rulemaking, the agency is endeavoring to ensure that it collects a body of information that may assist in the identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. We are also considering the burden on manufacturers. In view of our authority, stated in the statute in broad terms, to require reporting of information to the extent that such information may assist in the identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety, we do not believe that it is necessary or appropriate to identify a prescriptive list of factors for delineating a reporting threshold. Nonetheless, based on our experience, the following considerations, among other things, have been identified as relevant to evaluating whether EWR information assists or would assist in the identification of safety-related defects:
• The number of manufacturers of a particular class of vehicles or equipment.
• The proportion of reporting manufacturers in a particular class of vehicles or equipment.
• The number of vehicles or equipment items at issue.
• Whether the vehicles carry large numbers of people.
• The safety risks attendant to a particular class of motor vehicles.
• The nature/amount of EWR data the manufacturers have reported or would report.
• Whether the EWR data have been useful or are likely to be useful in opening investigations into potential safety related defects and whether those investigations have resulted or may result in recalls.
• The effect that reduction and/or addition of EWR data would have on the quantity and quality of the data and ODI's ability to identify possible safety-related defects.
• ODI's ability to monitor a group of vehicles and identify possible defects without EWR data.
• The burden on manufacturers.
• The burden on NHTSA.
The general approach of the EWR program is to collect very large amounts of data on a wide range and volume of vehicles and, to a lesser degree, equipment, and then systematically review the data, with the goal of identifying potential safety problems that may be revealed by examining the data. These data along with other information collected by and available to the agency are considered in deciding whether to open investigations.
After conducting extensive reviews of the EWR data over the last several years, NHTSA has determined that today's final rule will reduce overall the number of manufacturers that must provide comprehensive EWR submissions. The amount and usefulness of data that will no longer be required to be submitted will not be significant to NHTSA in assisting in the identification of safety related defects.
The current EWR regulation requires light vehicle manufacturers producing 500 or more vehicles per year to provide quarterly EWR reports to NHTSA. 49 CFR 579.21. Light vehicle manufacturers producing fewer than 500 vehicles are not required to provide quarterly reports, but must provide information related to a claim or notice alleging a death received by the manufacturer. 49 CFR 579.27.
The NPRM proposed amending 49 CFR 579.21 to raise the reporting threshold for light vehicle manufacturers from 500 to 5,000 or more vehicles produced per year. Under this approach, light vehicle manufacturers annually producing fewer than 5,000 vehicles would not provide quarterly reports containing comprehensive data, but would be required, under 49 CFR 579.27, to provide information related to a claim or notice alleging a death received by the manufacturer.
Our proposal to raise the light vehicle threshold was based in large part on our experience in collecting, reviewing and analyzing over four (4) years of EWR data. As we explained in the NPRM, the light vehicle EWR reporting sector consists of 62 manufacturers that submit an immense amount of EWR data to NHTSA every quarter. In the third quarter of 2008 alone, light vehicle manufacturers submitted EWR data with 2,700 property damage claims, 10.2 million warranty claims, 770,000 consumer complaints and 390,000 field reports
Larger volume light vehicle manufacturers submit the overall majority of the EWR data in this reporting category. Conversely, manufacturers of 5,000 or fewer light vehicles do not submit much EWR information. It is common for these smaller volume manufacturers to submit zero (0) or (1) complaint, claim or field report for a specific model and model year. This limited amount of EWR data from the relatively smaller light vehicle manufacturers is of little, if any, assistance to ODI in detecting potential safety-related defects.
As noted in the NPRM, NHTSA employs several analytical methods to identify potential concerns. The agency uses statistical methodologies to discover outliers or trends, conducts manual reviews and analyses of EWR data, and evaluates other information, such as Vehicle Owner Questionnaires (VOQs), when evaluating EWR data. Review of EWR submissions from smaller volume light vehicle manufacturers has not been productive in identifying possible safety-related defects in light vehicles.
Manufacturers producing 5,000 or more vehicles per year have filed almost all of the safety recalls initiated in the last five (5) years. Between January 2003 and January 2008, there were a total of 646 light vehicle recalls. Ninety-three percent of these recalls involved manufacturers annually producing 5,000 or more vehicles. More significantly, none of the EWR data submitted by light vehicle manufacturers producing fewer than 5,000 vehicles per year has prompted an investigation leading to a recall. In fact, all of the ODI light vehicle investigations prompted by EWR data involved vehicles from manufacturers annually producing 5,000 or more light vehicles.
Ford, the Alliance, AIAM, NTEA, SBA and VSCI all supported amending 49 CFR 579.21 to raise the light vehicle reporting threshold from 500 to 5,000 or more vehicles produced per year. We did not receive any comments opposing the proposal.
Accordingly, we are adopting the amendment as proposed. Even though 32 light vehicle manufacturers will no longer submit quarterly EWR data, NHTSA's ability to monitor vehicles made by these small volume manufacturers for potential safety concerns will remain intact. Small volume manufacturers will still be required to report fatality information pursuant to 49 CFR 579.27. NHTSA will also continue to receive the traditional screening information on these vehicles, such as VOQs and TSBs.
The Alliance and VSCI requested that small-volume subsidiaries of light vehicle manufacturers,
A relationship between two manufacturers such that one vehicle manufacturer is deemed to be a sponsor and thus a manufacturer of a vehicle assembled by a second manufacturer because the first manufacturer has a substantial role in the
We decline to adopt the Alliance's and VSCI's recommendations to exempt small-volume subsidiaries from filing quarterly EWR reports. We believe that data concerning the small-volume subsidiaries of large manufacturers is likely at times to produce useful information. In addition, the relationship between a small-volume subsidiary and its corporate parent are such that the subsidiary may rely on its parent for assistance in filing EWR reports.
Increasing globalization of the auto industry has increased engineering, component and design sharing as manufacturers attempt to meet competitive challenges. Sharing components with their parent corporations significantly increases the possibility that a subsidiary may share a potential safety concern with a parent. For example, the Volkswagen Group D1 platform is shared with the Bentley Continental GT and the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and BMW shares engines and other parts with Rolls Royce models. In our view, obtaining EWR data from small-volume subsidiaries is important for spotting potential safety concerns that may exist in both a subsidiary and a parent.
However, the Alliance and VSCI claim that the burden to report for small-volume subsidiaries is greater on the parent than the costs imposed on small independents. The Alliance also claimed that the EWR requirements place small-volume subsidiaries, such as Bentley, Bugati, Lamborghini and Rolls Royce at a competitive disadvantage. Neither commenter, however, submitted any support for these assertions. Without support, these claims are unpersuasive. Small-volume subsidiaries often are supported by their parents in the form of technology sharing or other resources. Because such support is available to small-volume subsidiaries, we are not persuaded that these subsidiaries are unduly burdened by the EWR quarterly reporting requirement.
AIAM's comments requested NHTSA to exempt EWR data generated from vehicles in U.S. territories
AIAM argues that several factors support its request for an exemption from reporting EWR data from U.S. territories. AIAM states there are relatively small numbers of vehicles sold in the U.S. territories (only one half to one percent of U.S. vehicle sales, according to AIAM), the amount of data collected is small, and the burden to collect the data is high because manufacturers typically rely upon manual entry to process EWR reporting from U.S. territories. AIAM claims that this imposes a disproportionate burden on manufacturers in relation to the small number of vehicles in the U.S. territories. Moreover, AIAM asserts that excluding U.S. territories from reporting should not significantly affect NHTSA's assessment of possible defect trends, since the vast majority of data for each model vehicle would continue to be reported and fatalities would still be reported. Thus, AIAM requests that NHTSA amend the first paragraph of 579.21 by adding: “With respect to paragraphs (a) and (c) of this section, inclusion of data from Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands is not required.”
We decline to adopt AIAM's recommendation to exempt manufacturers from reporting EWR data collected in U.S. territories. First, we do not agree that AIAM's recommendation is a “logical outgrowth” of our proposal to raise the light vehicle threshold to 5,000 vehicles per year and, therefore, it is outside the scope of NPRM. The NPRM did not propose to create a new exemption excluding data from a geographic region from quarterly EWR reports. Rather, the NPRM proposed amending the existing threshold, which is based upon whether a manufacturer's aggregate total of vehicles manufactured, sold, offered for sale, or imported in the United States reaches a certain volume.
Even assuming that AIAM's recommendation was within the scope of the NPRM, we would not adopt it. We note that the TREAD Act amended the Safety Act to require manufacturers to report EWR data related to motor vehicle safety in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment in the
Furthermore, we do not believe the burden to report EWR data on vehicles from the U.S. territories is excessive. Under the provision authorizing the EWR program, NHTSA cannot impose requirements that are unduly burdensome to a manufacturer. 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(4)(D). When considering whether a requirement under the EWR regulation is unduly burdensome, NHTSA must take into account the manufacturer's costs of complying with the EWR requirements and NHTSA's ability to use the information in a meaningful manner to assist in the identification of safety-related defects.
Moreover, AIAM does not address the costs of reporting specific types of EWR data. For example, the burden to report consumer complaints generated from consumers in U.S. territories appears to be small. Typically, manufacturers have
For the foregoing reasons, we decline to adopt the recommendations of AIAM, the Alliance and VSCI to exempt small-volume subsidiaries and reporting regarding activities in U.S. territories from EWR quarterly reporting.
The EWR regulation requires trailer manufacturers producing 500 or more trailers per year to submit comprehensive EWR reports to NHTSA. 49 CFR 579.24. Trailer manufacturers annually producing fewer than 500 vehicles are not required to provide quarterly reports to NHTSA, but must provide information related to a claim or notice alleging a death received by the manufacturer. 49 CFR 579.27.
The NPRM proposed amending 49 CFR 579.24 to raise the reporting threshold for trailer manufacturers from its current level of 500 to 5,000 or more trailers per year. Under this approach, trailer manufacturers that producing fewer than 5,000 vehicles per year would not provide comprehensive reports to NHTSA, but would be required to provide fatality information under 49 CFR 579.27.
Our proposal to amend the trailer threshold was based on our experience in collecting, reviewing and analyzing EWR data over four (4) years. As we explained in the preamble to the NPRM, approximately 280 trailer manufacturers currently submit a large amount of data to NHTSA every quarter.
As pointed out in the preamble to the NPRM, NHTSA does not believe establishing a threshold level of 5,000 trailers will meaningfully reduce EWR trailer data. Although raising the threshold for the trailer category to 5,000 relieves 219 trailer manufacturers from quarterly EWR reporting, our analysis indicates that manufacturers producing 5,000 or more trailers account for nearly 80% of all trailer production volume and 70% of the EWR aggregate trailer data. We do not believe that the reduction in manufacturers, production data or aggregate data will reduce our ability to identify potential defects. Manufacturers producing fewer than 5,000 trailers per year generally do not provide robust EWR data that assists in identifying potential defects.
In the preamble to the NPRM, we noted that quarterly EWR data from small-volume trailer manufacturers presented little information and is unlikely to lead a defect investigation. NHTSA's traditional screening tools, such as fleet contacts, technical service bulletins and VOQs have proven effective at identifying safety concerns in the smaller volume trailers and leading to defect investigations.
Nine (9) commenters responded to our proposal to raise the trailer threshold. RVIA, TTMA, NTEA, NATM, NMMA and SBA all supported the proposed amendment to 49 CFR 579.24. Many of these commenters concurred that the amended threshold would reduce the burden of EWR reporting on small manufacturers without any material reduction to NHTSA's ability to identify potential safety-related defects.
Big Tex Trailers Manufacturing, Inc. (Big Tex), Carry-On Trailer, Inc., and PJ Trailers Manufacturing, Inc, all manufacturers that annually produce more than 5,000 trailers, submitted comments opposing our proposal. They argue that raising the threshold would undermine NHTSA's ability to identify safety-related defects. These commenters assert that NHTSA's estimates on the number of trailer manufacturers producing fewer than 5,000 trailers are very low. These companies also claim and that raising the threshold will largely eliminate quarterly EWR reporting data for trailers with 20,000 GVWR or more (which allegedly pose a greater risk to safety than trailers less than 20,000 GVWR) even though the reporting burden is the same for large and small manufacturers. However, these three companies did not submit any data to support these claims.
Big Tex claims that there are “hundreds” of trailer manufacturers who are not reporting—either due to noncompliance with the EWR rule or because they produce fewer than 500 units per year. However, Big Tex did not submit any supporting information, such as trailer manufacturers subject to comprehensive EWR reporting that are not reporting. Our information indicates otherwise. NHTSA contacted over 2,300 trailer manufacturers, advised them of their EWR-reporting requirements and requested their annual production volume. Our results indicate that trailer manufacturers required to file EWR reports are doing so. Even if considerable numbers of manufacturers are not meeting their obligations, the comments do not address whether the quality and quantity of EWR data contained within the reports would provide sufficient information to assist in the identification of potential defects. Smaller trailer manufacturers often have little or no EWR data to report. Such reporting results in product lines with no reportable data or reports of small numbers of incidents from quarter to quarter that are not indicative of meaningful trends. The data gleaned from these reports are simply not helpful to NHTSA.
Big-Tex also argues that raising the threshold to 5,000 or more units per year will eliminate EWR reporting for a significant number of trailer manufacturers producing trailers over 20,000 GVWR, which Big-Tex contends pose the greatest risk to safety. Big Tex offers no basis supporting this alleged greater safety risk. Our experience indicates that trailers over 20,000 GVWR or over are generally maintained by fleets. If these trailers experience any down time, the fleet operator will lose
Big-Tex's claim that raising the reporting threshold to 5,000 or more trailers per year will cause a significant loss of EWR data for trailers over 20,000 GVWR is incorrect. Our evaluation shows that raising the threshold to 5,000 or more trailers annually will still result in receiving ninety-six (96) percent of the current production data being submitted to NHTSA from manufacturers producing trailers over 20,000 GVWR. Because the aggregate data in this vehicle category has not proven particularly useful, this reduction will not significantly reduce our ability to adequately identify potential safety-related defects in trailers over 20,000 GVWR.
Big-Tex also states that the reporting burdens for larger trailer manufacturers are similar to smaller manufacturers. Big-Tex provides no data to support this claim. NHTSA's analysis of EWR trailer data weighed the costs of reporting EWR data with the agency's ability to use it to identify potential safety defects. Our evaluation of trailer EWR data indicates that data from trailer manufacturers producing more than 5,000 trailers per year have more depth, tend to be consistent from quarter to quarter and are most likely to provide assistance in detecting defects. The same cannot be said for EWR data from trailer manufacturers producing fewer than 5,000 per year.
Accordingly, we are amending 49 CFR 579.22 to raise the reporting threshold for trailer manufacturers to 5,000 or more vehicles produced annually.
Medium-heavy vehicle and bus manufacturers producing 500 or more units per year currently submit quarterly EWR reports to NHTSA. 49 CFR 579.22. There are approximately 20 bus manufacturers submitting quarterly EWR reports to NHTSA. For the third quarter of 2008, bus manufacturers submitted, approximately 6 property damage claims, 74,000 warranty claims, 1,000 consumer complaints and 2,700 field reports on 750,000 buses. They also submitted approximately 150 copies of field reports.
The preamble to the NPRM stated that there is a significant need to amend the threshold level of reporting for manufacturers of buses because buses—whether school buses, transit buses, or motor coaches—have unique characteristics. These vehicles carry more occupants than other vehicle types, which increases safety risks on a per-vehicle basis. Because of the potential for multiple fatalities and injuries from a single crash, there is greater urgency for identifying safety concerns at the earliest possible time. Our NPRM noted that several recent bus crashes reinforced the importance of creating a special EWR status for bus manufacturers similar to that of child restraint manufacturers.
Our proposal considered factors for different thresholds, such as the likelihood of capturing useful data and bus safety risks, balanced against data submission burdens and the agency's costs. Our experience with recalls by bus manufacturers producing fewer than 500 vehicles per year reinforced the need to expand early warning reporting. Further, the safety risk presented by bus defects outweighs the costs of start-up and on-going reporting of EWR data.
NTEA and SBA both commented on our proposal to eliminate the reporting threshold for manufacturers of buses. Both opposed the proposal. We did not receive any comments from manufacturers of buses. SBA noted that NHTSA's reference to bus crashes does not address whether EWR reporting would have prevented those crashes. It recommended that NHTSA reassess changing the EWR bus reporting threshold, and determine whether the burden reduction analysis stated for the light vehicle and trailer categories would be appropriate for buses. NTEA recognized the greater safety concern for buses, but urged NHTSA to revise its proposal to include a low, small-volume threshold. NTEA asserts that NHTSA's proposal is too broad, creating large burdens for small manufacturers and capturing manufacturers not intended to report under the EWR rule as bus manufacturers. Specifically, NTEA argues that a company building one bus would be required to file quarterly reports, which would be a significant burden. Furthermore, NTEA states that the agency's definition of a bus (a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed for carrying more than 10 persons,
NHTSA estimated that seventeen manufacturers would be required to submit quarterly EWR reports if it eliminated the bus threshold. The agency stated that most of these manufacturers produce hundreds of buses per year, but were below the existing reporting threshold. However, as NTEA points out, the proposed elimination of the EWR bus reporting threshold captures many manufacturers that have an annual production of 100 or fewer buses. Our proposal intended to capture additional manufacturers of school buses, transit buses and motor coaches, not very small manufacturers of limousines and similar vehicles.
The distinguishing characteristic of buses is that they transport numerous people, and a single bus crash may result in many injuries and fatalities. The bus crashes we referenced, as SBA pointed out, were not singled out to suggest that EWR data would have prevented those particular bus crashes. Their purpose was simply to illustrate that bus crashes can result in multiple deaths and injuries. Because of this characteristic, we believe that there is a strong safety interest in improving our ability to identify potential defects in buses. This benefit outweighs the burden on reporting for these additional bus manufacturers.
Bus manufacturers producing fewer than 500 buses per year conduct a significant number of recalls every year. Since 2003, there have been approximately 39 recalls involving 8,000 buses by bus manufacturers producing fewer than 500 buses annually. Because of passenger density, defect related safety risks could affect tens of thousands of passengers per year. Moreover, NHTSA's traditional data collection methods are not as robust for buses as compared to light vehicles and other vehicles. For example, vehicle owner complaints, which are a vital source of information on light vehicles, are rare for buses. Given the potential harm from just one bus crash, NHTSA concludes that
Consideration of comments from SBA and NTEA led NHTSA to re-examine the EWR reporting threshold for buses including the utility of the data produced. At the outset, we recognize that very small volume manufacturers would not submit EWR data robust enough to permit expeditious identification of potential defects. Therefore, data from manufacturers producing few buses will not be required to report. However, due to the strong safety concerns with regard to buses, expanded reporting is necessary. We believe that an appropriate reporting threshold is 100 buses per year. Of the seventeen bus manufacturers identified in the NPRM as producing fewer than 500 buses per year, fifteen produce 100 or more buses annually.
In addition, NHTSA analyzes EWR data submitted by bus and medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers on a quarterly basis. In this analysis, agency staff rank potential issues by vehicle make and model. Data from each quarter identify dozens of makes and models of buses and medium-heavy vehicles that require further evaluation by ODI. In the last six quarterly evaluations, NHTSA has preliminarily identified fifteen bus models from seven different manufacturers for further evaluation.
The NPRM estimated that the costs for each additional bus manufacturer would include a one-time start-up cost of approximately $3,500 and an annual reporting cost of approximately $13,000.