Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
As to safety recalls, we propose, among other things, to require certain manufacturers to submit vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for recalled vehicles and to daily report changes in recall remedy status for those vehicles; require online submission of recalls reports and information; and require adjustments to the required content of the owner notification letters and envelopes required to be issued to owners and purchasers of recalled vehicles and equipment.
Whichever way you submit your comments, please remember to mention the docket number of this document within your correspondence. The docket may be accessed via telephone at 202-366-9324.
Comments regarding the proposed revisions to existing information collections should be submitted to NHTSA through one of the preceding methods and a copy should also be sent to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, 725-17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503, Attention: NHTSA Desk Officer.
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 potential safety related defects in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. Congress concluded that NHTSA did not have access to data that may provide an earlier warning of safety defects or information related to foreign recalls and safety campaigns. Accordingly, the TREAD Act required that NHTSA prescribe rules requiring motor vehicle and equipment manufacturers to submit certain information to NHTSA that would assist identifying potential safety related defects and to require manufacturers to submit reports on foreign defects and safety campaigns.
On July 10, 2002, NHTSA published its Early Warning Reporting (EWR) regulations requiring that motor vehicle and equipment manufacturers provide certain early warning data. 49 CFR part 579, subpart C;
On October 11, 2002, NHTSA published regulations requiring manufacturers to report foreign recalls or other safety campaigns in a foreign country covering a motor vehicle, item of motor vehicle equipment or tire that is identical or substantially similar to a motor vehicle, item of motor vehicle equipment or tire sold or offered for sale in the United States. 49 CFR part 579, subpart B, 67 FR 63310. Under these regulations, manufacturers are required to submit annual lists of substantially similar vehicles to NHTSA. 49 CFR 579.11(e)
As described more fully in the Background section, below, EWR 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. The EWR information NHTSA receives is stored in a database, called Artemis, which also contains additional information (e.g., domestic and foreign recall details and complaints filed directly by consumers) related to defects and investigations.
The Early Warning Division of the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) reviews and analyzes a huge volume of early warning data and documents submitted by manufacturers. Using its traditional sources of information, such as consumer 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 the last several years, the agency published two amendments to the EWR regulations. On May 29, 2007, NHTSA made three changes to the EWR rule. 72 FR 29435. First, the definition of “fire” was amended to more accurately capture fire-related events. 72 FR 29443. Second, the agency eliminated the requirement to produce hard copies of a subset of field reports known as “product evaluation reports.”
The September 2009 rule did not address several proposals in the preceding December 2008 NPRM. 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.
Recently, in July 2012, Congress enacted the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, Public Law 112-141, 126 Stat 405, 763 (July 6, 2012). Section 31301 of this Act requires the Secretary of Transportation to mandate that motor vehicle safety recall information be made available to the public on the Internet, be searchable by vehicle make and model and vehicle identification number (VIN), be in a format that preserves consumer privacy, and includes information about each recall that has not been completed for each vehicle. The section further provides that the Secretary may initiate a rulemaking to require manufacturers to provide this information on a publicly accessible Internet Web site.
The early warning reporting (EWR) rule requires certain manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to submit information to NHTSA. 49 CFR part 579, subpart C. The EWR rule divides vehicle manufacturers into different segments based upon weight or vehicle application. These segments are light vehicles, buses, emergency vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles, motorcycles and trailers. The proposed amendments to the EWR rule concern light vehicles, buses, emergency vehicles, and medium-heavy vehicles.
Today's document proposes requiring light vehicle manufacturers to report vehicle type in their death and injury and aggregate reports. Under the current EWR rule, light vehicle manufacturers submit vehicle type as part of
We propose to require reporting on additional components in the light vehicle, bus, emergency vehicle, and medium-heavy vehicle component categories and to amend the light vehicle, bus, emergency vehicle, and medium-heavy vehicle reporting templates.
This proposal also would add a requirement that light vehicle manufacturers provide the fuel and/or propulsion system type for nine (9) different fuel and/or propulsion system types. In addition, the proposal would add definitions for each fuel and/or propulsion system.
Furthermore, today's document proposes to add four (4) new light vehicle and one (1) new medium-heavy vehicle component reporting categories. The new light vehicle component categories are electronic stability control, forward collision avoidance, lane departure prevention, and backover prevention; the new medium-heavy vehicle component category is stability control/roll stability control. We also propose new definitions for each of these components. We are also proposing to correct a minor inconsistency in light vehicle manufacturer reporting of vehicle types to capture several recently introduced light vehicle technologies.
This proposal also seeks comments on amendments to a manufacturer's reporting requirements related to safety recalls and other safety campaigns in foreign countries under subpart B of part 579. 49 CFR part 579, subpart B. We propose to standardize the manner of submitting annual lists of substantially similar vehicles under 579.11(e) by uploading them, via a secure Internet connection, to NHTSA's Artemis database using a template provided on NHTSA's EWR Web site. Currently, manufacturers may submit their substantially similar lists by mail, facsimile or email.
Today's proposed rule proposes changes and additions to the regulations governing recalls, 49 CFR Part 573,
We are proposing a number of measures in an effort to improve the information the agency receives from recalling manufacturers concerning the motor vehicles and equipment they are recalling and the plans for remedying those products, in addition to distribution of that information to the affected public.
First, for motor vehicle recalls, and in accordance with the MAP-21 Act, we are proposing to adopt regulations that would implement MAP-21's mandate that the Secretary require motor vehicle safety recall information be made available to the public on the Internet, be searchable by vehicle make and model and vehicle identification number (VIN), be in a format that preserves consumer privacy, and includes information about each recall that has not been completed for each vehicle.
To meet MAP-21, and increase the number of motor vehicles remedied under safety recall campaigns, the agency proposes to offer vehicle owners and prospective purchasers an enhanced vehicle recalls search tool through its Web site,
In order to gather the information necessary for us to provide this enhanced functionality, we are proposing to require larger volume, light vehicle manufacturers to submit the VINs for vehicles affected by a safety recall to NHTSA. We further propose to require these manufacturers to submit to NHTSA recall remedy completion information on those vehicles, again supplied by VIN, that is updated at least once daily so that our search tool has “real time” information that can inform owners and other interested parties if a recall is outstanding on a vehicle. In our effort to improve the information received from recalling manufacturers, and so NHTSA can better understand and process recalls, as well as manage and oversee the recall campaigns and the manufacturers conducting those campaigns, we are proposing to require certain additional items of information from recalling manufacturers. These additional items include an identification and description of the risk associated with the safety defect or noncompliance with a FMVSS, and, as to motor vehicle equipment recalls, the brand name, model name, and model number, of the equipment recalled. We are also proposing that manufacturers be prohibited from including disclaimers in their Part 573 information reports.
Similarly, as part of our effort to ensure we are apprised of information related to recalls that we oversee, we are also proposing changes to add or make more specific current requirements for manufacturers to keep NHTSA informed of changes and updates in information provided in the defect and noncompliance information reports they supply.
We are proposing to require manufacturers to submit through a secure, agency-owned and managed web-based application, all recall-related reports, information, and associated documents. This is to improve our efficiency and accuracy in collecting and processing important recalls information and then distributing it to the public. It also will reduce a current and significant allocation of agency resources spent translating and processing the same information that is currently submitted in a free text fashion, whether that text is delivered via a hard copy, mailed submission, or delivered electronically through email.
In order to ensure that owners are promptly notified of safety defects and failures to meet minimum safety standards, we are proposing to specify that manufacturers notify owners and purchasers no later than 60 days of when a safety defect or noncompliance decision is made. In the event the free remedy is not available at the time of notification, we are proposing that manufacturers be required to issue a second notification to owners and purchasers once that remedy is available.
In an effort to encourage owners to have recall repairs made to their vehicles and vehicle equipment, we are proposing additional requirements governing the content and formatting of owner notification letters and the envelopes in which they are mailed in an effort to improve the number of vehicles that receive a remedy under a recall. We are proposing that all letters include “URGENT SAFETY RECALL” in all capitals letters and in an enlarged font at the top of those letters, and that for vehicle recalls, the manufacturer place the VIN of the owner's vehicle
Lastly, we are proposing to add a requirement for manufacturers to notify the agency in the event they file for bankruptcy. This requirement will help us preserve our ability to take necessary and appropriate measures to ensure recalling manufacturers, or others such as corporate successors, continue to honor obligations to provide free remedies to owners of unsafe vehicle and equipment products.
On July 10, 2002, NHTSA published a rule implementing the EWR provisions of the TREAD Act, 49 U.S.C. 30166(m). 67 FR 45822. This rule requires certain motor vehicle manufacturers and motor vehicle equipment manufacturers to report information and submit documents to NHTSA that could be used to identify potential safety-related defects.
The EWR regulation divides manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment into two groups with different reporting responsibilities for reporting information. The first group consists of: (a) Larger vehicle manufacturers that meet certain production thresholds that produce light vehicles, buses, emergency vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles, trailers and/or motorcycles; (b) tire manufacturers that produce over a certain number per tire line; and (c) all manufacturers of child restraints. Light vehicle, motorcycle, trailer and medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers except buses and emergency vehicles that produced, imported, offered for sale, or sold 5,000 or more vehicles annually in the United States are required to report comprehensive reports every calendar quarter. Emergency vehicle manufacturers must report if they produced, imported, offered for sale, or sold 500 or more vehicles annually and bus manufacturers must report if they produced, imported or offered for sale, or sold 100 or more buses annually in the United States. Passenger car tire, light truck tire and motorcycle tire manufacturers that produced, imported, offered for sale, or sold 15,000 or more per tire line are also required to provide comprehensive quarterly reports. The first group must provide comprehensive reports every calendar quarter. 49 CFR 579.21-26. The second group consists of all other manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment (i.e., vehicle manufacturers that produce, import, or sell in the United States fewer than 5,000 light vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles (excluding emergency vehicles and buses), motorcycles, or trailers annually; fewer than 500 emergency vehicles annually; fewer than 100 buses annually; manufacturers of original motor vehicle equipment; and manufacturers of replacement motor vehicle equipment other than child restraint systems and tires). The second group has limited reporting responsibility.
Light vehicle, bus, emergency vehicle and medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers must provide information relating to:
• 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.
• 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).
• Warranty claims paid by the manufacturer pursuant to a warranty program (in the tire industry these are warranty adjustment claims).
• 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).
For property damage claims, warranty claims, consumer complaints and field reports, light vehicle, bus, emergency vehicle and medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers submit information 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, light vehicle, bus, emergency vehicle and medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers are required to submit copies of field reports, except for dealer and product evaluation reports.
On a quarterly basis, vehicle and equipment manufacturers meeting the production thresholds discussed above must provide comprehensive reports for each make and model for the calendar year of the report and nine previous model years for vehicles and four years for equipment. The vehicle systems or components on which manufacturers provide information vary depending upon the type of vehicle or equipment manufactured. Light vehicle manufacturers must provide reports on twenty (20) vehicle components or systems: Steering, suspension, service brake, parking brake, engine and engine cooling system, fuel system, power train, electrical system, exterior lighting, visibility, air bags, seat belts, structure, latch, vehicle speed control, tires, wheels, seats, fire and rollover. Bus, emergency vehicle and medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers must provide reports on an additional four (4) vehicle components or systems: service brake air, fuel system diesel, fuel system other, and trailer hitch.
On October 11, 2002, NHTSA published regulations implementing foreign motor vehicle and product defect reporting provisions of the TREAD Act, 49 U.S.C. 30166(1). 67 FR 63295, 63310; 49 CFR 579, subpart B. The Foreign Defect Reporting rule requires certain motor vehicle manufacturers and motor vehicle equipment manufacturers to report information and submit documents to NHTSA when a manufacturer or a foreign government determines that a safety recall or other safety campaign should be conducted in a foreign country for products that are identical or substantially similar to vehicles or items of equipment sold or offered for sale in the United States. 49 U.S.C. 30166(1)(1) & (2). To assist the agency's program implementation, manufacturers must submit an annual list of substantially similar vehicles to NHTSA. 49 CFR 579.11(e). This list is due by November 1 of each year. Manufacturers may submit their substantially similar vehicle list by mail, facsimile or by email. 49 CFR 579.6(a). NHTSA offers a Microsoft Excel template on its Web site
Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30119, manufacturers are required to provide notice to 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. The regulation implementing the manufacturer's requirement to provide notice to NHTSA is located at 49 CFR part 573
The conduct of a recall notification campaign, including how and when owners, dealers, and distributors are notified, is addressed by regulation in 49 CFR Part 577,
Recently, in July 2012, Congress enacted the MAP-21 Act, Public Law 112-141, 126 Stat. 405 (July 6, 2012). It requires, among other things, that the Secretary of Transportation require that motor vehicle safety recall information be made available to the public on the Internet, be searchable by vehicle make and model and vehicle identification number (VIN), be in a format that preserves consumer privacy, and includes information about each recall that has not been completed for each vehicle. Id.
Today's proposed rule is limited in scope to the proposed amendments to the EWR requirements, the foreign defect reporting rule, and to the requirements associated with safety recall reporting, administration, and execution as delineated in Parts 573 and 577 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Apart from the proposed changes noted above in the summary section, NHTSA intends to leave the remaining current EWR, foreign defect reporting regulations, and safety recalls implementing regulations Parts 573 and 577 unchanged.
Under the early warning reporting requirements 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 by its initial name the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act or as the Safety Act.
The agency's discretion is not unfettered. Per 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(4)(D), NHTSA may not impose undue burdens upon manufacturers, taking into account the cost incurred by manufacturers to report EWR data and the agency's ability to use the EWR data meaningfully to assist in the identification of safety defects.
The TREAD Act also amended 49 U.S.C. 30166 to add a new subsection (l) to address reporting of foreign defects and other safety campaigns by vehicle and equipment manufacturers. This section requires manufacturers of motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment to notify NHTSA if the manufacturer or a foreign government determines that the manufacturer should conduct a recall or other safety campaign on a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that is identical or substantially similar to a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment offered for sale in the United States. 49 U.S.C. 30166(l). Subsection (l) does not define “identical” or the term “substantially similar.” Under the TREAD Act's foreign defect reporting provisions, NHTSA is to specify the contents of the notification.
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(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
In July 2012, Congress enacted the MAP-21 Act. See Public Law 112-141, 126 Stat. 405 (July 6, 2012). Sections 31301 of the MAP-21 Act mandates that the Secretary require that motor vehicle safety recall information be made available to the public on the Internet, and it provides authority to the Secretary, in his discretion, to conduct a rulemaking to require each manufacturer to provide its safety recall information on a publicly accessible Internet Web site. Under section 31301(a), Congress has directed the Secretary to require motor vehicle safety information be available on the Internet, searchable by vehicle make, model and VIN, preserves consumer privacy and includes information regarding completion of the particular recall. Section 31301(b) authorizes the Secretary, in his discretion, to conduct a rulemaking requiring each manufacturer to provide the safety recall information in paragraph (a) on a publicly accessible Internet Web site. Specifically, section 31301(a) states:
(a) VEHICLE RECALL INFORMATION.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall require that motor vehicle safety recall information—
(1) Be available to the public on the Internet;
(2) be searchable by vehicle make and model and vehicle identification number;
(3) be in a format that preserves consumer privacy; and
(4) includes information about each recall that has not been completed for each vehicle.
While Congress has provided certain parameters to its mandate to make safety recall information available on the Internet, it has not directly spoken on the mechanism to implement section 31301(a), leaving the agency to use its discretion to fill any ambiguity. Paragraph (a) is silent with respect to who is required to make safety recall information available, which manufacturers are subject to the requirement, the types of safety information to be made available and how and when the information is placed on the Internet.
While it is clear that motor vehicle manufacturers have data regarding safety recalls, NHTSA also receives safety recall information from manufacturers pursuant to other provisions of the Safety Act and NHTSA's regulations.
In addition, section 30301(a) is silent on which manufacturers are subject to making information available on the Internet, only requiring motor vehicle safety recall information be made available. This section does not specify which vehicle manufacturers are required to make their information available. Consistent with traditional tools of statutory construction, Congress is presumed to know each agency's statutory and regulatory scheme. Under its regulatory scheme, NHTSA often breaks down motor vehicle manufacturers into different vehicle classes based upon each vehicle's application. For example, under the Early Warning Reporting (EWR) Regulation, 49 CFR part 579, subpart C, NHTSA divides motor vehicle manufacturers into several reporting categories such as light vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles, motorcycles and trailers and has limited the reporting obligations of classes of vehicle manufacturers that annually produce under a certain amount.
Moreover, section 30301(a) does not expressly state the type of safety recall information that must be placed on the Internet, merely requiring “motor vehicle safety recall information” and requiring that this information be searchable by vehicle, make and model and VIN. Other than vehicle make, model and VIN, section 30301(a) requires only that “motor vehicle safety information” include information about each recall that has not been completed for each vehicle. However, under NHTSA regulations, recall information is broader than the information specifically listed in section 30301(a). Under 49 CFR part 573, in general, manufacturers are required to submit several types of information, such as the total number of vehicles, an estimate of the percentage of vehicles with the defect, a description of the defect, a chronology of all the principal events that lead to the determination of a recall, a description of the manufacturer's remedy program, etc.
Section 30301(a) also fails to specify how and when the safety recall information shall be placed on the Internet. Other than providing for the information to be searchable by vehicle make, model and VIN, and that the format preserves consumer privacy, section 31301(a) is silent on the format and degree of availability of the safety recall information. Current information available on the Safercar.com Web site is available in different formats and degrees of availability. For instance, the agency makes consumer complaints available on the Internet in two different formats. One format is searchable by vehicle, make, model and component. The other format provides the public the ability to download NHTSA's consumer complaint database, which permits the individual to perform customized searches of the consumer complaint database. Without precise language specifying the format and degree of availability, NHTSA is left to determine the appropriate mechanism for placement on the Internet.
While providing authority to conduct a rulemaking, section 31301(b) provides little help in resolving the issues in paragraph (a). Paragraph (b) provides the Secretary with the authority to conduct a rulemaking to provide the information in subsection (a) and provides limited instructions as to the scope of any such rulemaking and sharing such information with automobile dealers and consumers. Section 31301(b) states:
(b) RULEMAKING.—The Secretary may initiate a rulemaking proceeding to require each manufacturer to provide the information described in subsection (a), with respect to that manufacturer's motor vehicles, on a publicly accessible
(1) shall limit the information that must be made available under this section to include only those recalls issued not more than 15 years prior to the date of enactment of [MAP-21];
(2) may require information under paragraph (1) to be provided to a dealer or an owner of a vehicle at no charge; and
(3) shall permit a manufacturer a reasonable period of time after receiving information from a dealer with respect to a vehicle to update the information about the vehicle on the publicly accessible Internet Web site.
Similar to paragraph (a) of 31301, paragraph (b) does not address which manufacturers are subject to the requirement to provide safety recall information on the publicly accessible Internet, whether the information is placed on the manufacturer's public Web site or NHTSA's Web site, the types of safety information to be made available and how and when the information is placed on the Internet. Instead, it vests considerable discretion in the agency to conduct a rulemaking to best meet the statutory goals of section 31301. The MAP-21 Act further specifies that a manufacturer's filing of a bankruptcy petition under Chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States Code, does not negate its duty to comply with, among other things, the defect and noncompliance notification and reporting obligations, nor the requirement to provide a free remedy, under the Safety Act.
Under EWR, we endeavor to collect a body of information that may assist in the identification of potential safety-related defects in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. When we believe that the EWR information may be refined or enhanced to further advance our goal of identifying safety defects, we consider factors that are relevant to the particular area of EWR under consideration. In view of our broad statutory authority to require reporting of information that may assist in the identification of potential safety-related defects, we do not believe that it is necessary or appropriate to identify a prescriptive list of factors for delineating particular data elements. Nonetheless, based on our experience, the following considerations, among other things, have been identified as relevant to evaluating whether or not adding data elements to light vehicle, bus, emergency vehicle and medium-heavy vehicle reporting would assist in identifying safety-related defects:
• The importance of the data to motor vehicle safety.
• The maturity of a particular technology and its market penetration.
• Whether the current component categories are adequate to capture information related to proposed data elements.
• Whether ODI has investigated or been notified of vehicle recalls related to the proposed data elements.
• Whether VOQ complaints related to the data elements have been useful in opening investigations into potential safety-related defects and whether those investigations have resulted or may result in recalls.
• Whether manufacturers collect information on the proposed data elements.
• The burden on manufacturers.
We emphasize that the general approach of the EWR program is to collect data on numerous systems and components in a very wide range and volume of vehicles for the agency to then systematically review information, with the end result being the identification of a relatively small number of potential safety problems, compared to the amount of data collected and reviewed. These data are considered along with other information collected by and available to the agency in deciding whether to open investigations.
The EWR regulation requires light vehicle manufacturers producing 5000 or more vehicles annually to submit production information including the make, the model, the model year, the type, the platform and the production. 49 CFR 579.21(a). Manufacturers must provide the production as a cumulative total for the model year, unless production of the product has ceased.
Today's proposal will assist ODI to identify potential safety-related defects by making light vehicle EWR data received internally consistent. Because light vehicle manufacturers providing quarterly EWR reports are not obligated to provide the vehicle type in their death and injury and aggregate EWR reports, NHTSA is unable to distinguish whether the light vehicle death and injury and aggregate data are associated with certain vehicle types such as passenger cars, multi-purpose vehicles, light trucks or incomplete vehicles. Without being able to isolate this information by vehicle type, ODI cannot match aggregate data with production data.
If this proposal is adopted, NHTSA could perform a more focused analysis of the EWR information. For instance, warranty claims by vehicle type from the aggregate data can be matched with corresponding vehicle type production data, allowing us to determine the occurrence of warranty claims per vehicle type. This proportion can be used in a subsequent, more focused and thorough analysis of EWR data. A relatively high rate of warranty claims per production unit may warrant further examination of EWR and other ODI sources of information. This proposal would permit a more efficient and targeted use of the EWR data in terms of detecting and identifying potential safety concerns.
Light vehicle manufacturers should be able to readily identify the vehicle type from the VIN provided in the information they receive. About 95 percent of the EWR reports on incidents involving a death or injury include a VIN when initially submitted by manufacturers. 71 FR 52040, 52046 (September 1, 2006). Warranty claims and field reports normally contain a VIN because the manufacturer's authorized dealer or representative has access to the vehicle and, in the case of warranty claims, a vehicle manufacturer will not pay a warranty claim unless the claim includes the VIN. For consumer complaints and property damage claims, the VIN or other information is generally available to identify the type of vehicle. If the VIN is not available, we propose that the manufacturer submit “UN” for “unknown” in the required field.
NHTSA believes that this change would place a minimal burden on light
We seek comment on today's proposed amendments to 49 CFR 579.21(b) and (c) to add a vehicle type requirement to EWR death and injury and aggregate data reports. In any comments on burden, we seek details on costs to revise EWR templates and software to meet this proposal.
The EWR regulation requires light vehicle manufacturers to report the required information by make, model and model year. 49 CFR 579.21(a), (b)(2), (c). The rule also requires light vehicle manufacturers to subdivide their EWR death and injury and aggregate reports by components. 49 CFR 579.21(b)(2), (c). The reporting by make, model and model year and component categories have remained unchanged since the EWR regulation was published in July 2002. Since that time, manufacturers have introduced new technologies to meet the demand for more fuel efficient vehicles. Currently, light vehicle manufacturers do not identify the specific fuel or propulsion system used in their vehicles. As use of these new technologies expands, we are concerned that the current EWR reporting scheme is not sufficiently sensitive for readily identifying vehicles with different fuel and/or propulsion system types. For example, some models, such as the Toyota Camry, are offered with both conventional and hybrid propulsion systems. To address these concerns, we propose to amend 579.21(a), (b), and (c) to require light vehicle manufacturers to report fuel and/or propulsion system types in their EWR reports. We also propose to amend the light vehicle reporting templates to reflect these proposals. We propose adding eight (8) fuel and/or propulsion systems and an “other” category in which manufacturers may bin their vehicles. We are also proposing definitions for each fuel and/or propulsion system and codes that a manufacturer would use when reporting.
The current Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard and new proposed CAFE standards will spur manufacturers to increasingly produce fuel efficient vehicles employing various technologies. Following the direction set by President Obama on May 21, 2010, NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas emissions regulations for model year (MY) 2017-2025 light-duty vehicles.
Therefore, as the automotive industry begins to introduce and produce more vehicles with new propulsion systems, NHTSA believes now is an opportune time to start collecting EWR information to assist in identifying potential defects in these new systems. As currently configured, the EWR reporting structure may mask potential problems with these systems. NHTSA is currently unable to discern from EWR data whether a particular vehicle problem is unique to a particular fuel or propulsion system. Under today's proposal, problems with a particular make and model that may be unique to one fuel/propulsion system could be readily distinguished from problems that may apply to that make and model regardless of the fuel/propulsion system. Also, this proposal would permit NHTSA to investigate safety concerns in many makes and models with similar fuel/propulsion systems (e.g., a battery problem in a plug-in electric vehicle or a hydrogen fuel cell problem that may extend to similarly equipped vehicles).
We believe that adding the appropriate fuel and/or propulsion system type to EWR will enhance NHTSA's ability to identify and address potential safety defects related to specific fuel and/or propulsion systems. Recent investigations indicate that dividing light vehicles by make, model, and fuel/propulsion system will assist in our identification of safety defect trends. NHTSA has opened several investigations on light vehicle models manufactured with more than one fuel or propulsion system as an option. Each investigation involved an issue with a specific fuel or propulsion system that under current EWR reporting is masked by light vehicle manufacturers reporting the vehicles under one category for fuel/propulsion:
• PE02-071 and EA03-001 involved alleged vehicle explosions during fires on 1996-2003 Ford Crown Victoria vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). The 1996-2003 Crown Victoria was manufactured with two (2) different fuel/propulsion systems: Spark ignition fuel (SIF) and CNG. This resulted in a recall: NHTSA recall number 03V472.
• PE07-028 involved alleged CNG tanks exploding during fires on 2003 Honda Civic vehicles powered by CNG. Honda recalled the vehicles.
Accordingly, we propose amending 49 CFR 579.21(a), (b), and (c) to require light vehicle manufacturers to provide the type of fuel and/or propulsion system when they submit their EWR data. We also propose amending the light vehicle reporting templates for the EWR production information, death and injury, and aggregate reports to reflect adding fuel and/or propulsion type.
We propose adding a new definition of “fuel and/or propulsion system type” in 49 CFR 579.4. The new definition would provide that “
We anticipate that the majority of vehicles produced by manufacturers will be captured by our proposed definitions. However, the proposal includes the term “other” to identify vehicle models employing a fuel/propulsion system that is not enumerated in our other proposed fuel and/or propulsion types. For example, the Dual fuel F-150 would be classified as “Other,” since it is propelled by either gasoline or CNG. We propose to use the following codes for fuel/propulsion type: CNG, CIF, EBP, FCP, HEV, HBP, PHV, SIF and OTH (Other).
Our fuel/propulsion system types include most of the alternative fuels found in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), as amended, 49 U.S.C. 32901, but not all. Due to differences in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and EWR programs, our proposed categories of fuel/propulsion systems differ slightly from the alternative fuels listed in section 32901. While EPCA encourages manufacturers to produce vehicles using alternative fuels, the EWR program has a different focus. In the context of alternative fuel vehicles, that focus is on potential problems that may occur within a fuel or propulsion system, which requires the agency to differentiate between propulsion technologies that are, or will be, available to consumers. For EWR purposes, there is no technical hardware difference between a vehicle with a spark ignition fuel engine capable of using a variety of fuels, such as ethanol or gasoline, or a mixture of fuels, such as E85 (ethanol/gasoline mixture) and a vehicle with a spark ignition fuel engine using gasoline only. While such a fuel distinction is appropriate for the CAFE program, EWR will not benefit from that level of detail because the specific fuel type being used will be unknown.
We solicit comment on our proposed definitions and seek input on clarifying each distinct system type. We also seek comment on whether additional fuel and/or propulsion system types should be added and how they might be defined.
The Alliance's comments to the December 2008 NPRM opposed adding fuel or propulsion systems because it would increase manufacturers' reporting costs. First, the Alliance contended that adding fuel/propulsion system reporting by distinct models would impose a one-time cost of approximately $170,000 (per manufacturer) to revise their EWR systems to collect and properly bin the data. Substantial ongoing costs would be incurred as well. According to these comments, manufacturers separately maintain some data, such as production and sales information, based upon the type of fuel or propulsion system in various models. However, the Alliance states that manufacturers do not separate vehicles by fuel or propulsion system when reporting EWR data by component category. Doing so, the Alliance states, would require manufacturers to revise their systems, which appears to be the bulk of the manufacturers' costs. The Alliance also noted that adding fuel/propulsion types would require manufacturers to report on hundreds of different models. Today's proposal is different than the one proposed in the December 2008 NPRM. Our current proposal would not add the fuel and/or propulsion system type to the model name as was proposed in December 2008. It proposes to add a new separate reporting element to the EWR.
If today's proposal is adopted, manufacturers will incur a one-time cost to revise EWR templates and software to incorporate the fuel and/or propulsion system types in their EWR reporting. However, in the agency's view, adding the fuel and/or propulsion system type to EWR will not be unduly burdensome for manufacturers because manufacturers already collect this information. Manufacturers collect and analyze data on alternative fueled models, like any other model, to monitor quality control, safety problems and to make in-process improvements. In their data collections, manufacturers distinguish between fuel/propulsion systems within a model to conduct root cause analyses. Once EWR systems are revised, additional ongoing burdens should be negligible as manufacturers already have established EWR operations. In addition, the agency has proposed a relatively small number of fuel and/or propulsion system types that should not require manufacturers to report on hundreds of different models, as stated by the Alliance.
We seek comments on our proposal to amend 49 CFR 579.21 to add fuel and/or propulsion system type to light vehicle reporting, the proposed types of fuel or propulsion systems and each proposed fuel or propulsion type definition. We also seek comments on the proposed light vehicle templates located in section F below incorporating our proposed amendments. Finally, on comments related to burden, we seek details on costs to revise EWR templates and software to meet the fuel and/or propulsion system type proposal.
The EWR regulation requires light and medium-heavy vehicle manufacturers to report the required information by specific component categories. 49 CFR 579.21(b)(2), (c), (d) and 579.22(b), (c), (d). The component categories for each vehicle type have remained unchanged since the EWR regulation was published in July 2002. Since that time, new technologies, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Roll Stability Control (RS