[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 206 (Friday, October 23, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 67604-67605]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-23512]



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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2020-0064; Notice 1]


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

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

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SUMMARY: Mercedes-Benz AG and Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, (collectively, 
``Mercedes-Benz'') have determined that certain model year (MY) 2020 
Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 motor vehicles do not fully comply with Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 118, Power-operated Window, 
Partition, and Roof Panel Systems. Mercedes-Benz filed a noncompliance 
report dated May 11, 2020, and subsequently petitioned NHTSA on June 3, 
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 November 23, 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 attachments to the comments. If comments are submitted in 
hard copy form, please ensure that two copies are provided. If you wish 
to receive confirmation that 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).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Overview

    Mercedes-Benz has determined that certain MY 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 
580 motor vehicles do not fully comply with the requirements of 
paragraph S6(a)(1) of FMVSS No. 118, Power-operated Window, Partition, 
and Roof Panel Systems (49 CFR 571.118). Mercedes-Benz filed a 
noncompliance report dated May 11, 2020, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, 
Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. Mercedes-Benz 
subsequently petitioned NHTSA on June 3, 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 22 MY 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS 580 motor vehicles 
manufactured between February 8, 2019, and September 20, 2019, are 
potentially involved.

III. Noncompliance

    Mercedes-Benz explains that the noncompliance is that the automatic 
reversal systems and actuation devices for the sunroofs in the subject 
vehicles do not fully comply with paragraph S6(a)(1) of FMVSS No. 118. 
Specifically, when the vehicle's ``car wash mode'' is activated by 
using the central touch display in the center console, the sunroof may 
close automatically.

IV. Rule Requirements

    Paragraph S6(a)(1) of FMVSS No. 118 includes the requirements 
relevant to this petition. An actuation device must not cause a window, 
partition, or roof panel to begin to close from any open position when 
tested using a stainless steel sphere having a surface finish between 8 
and 4 micro inches and a radius of 20 mm  0.2 mm, place the 
surface of the sphere against any portion of the actuation device.

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 describes the 
subject noncompliance and contends that the noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    In support of its petition, Mercedes-Benz submitted the following 
reasoning:

    1. FMVSS No. 118 is intended to reduce the likelihood of 
injuries that may arise due to the accidental operation of power-
operated windows, sunroofs, and other moveable partitions. The 
particular provision at issue here, S6(a), is focused on preventing 
the inadvertent movement of powered windows, partitions, and roof 
panels if a child inadvertently leans on or against the actuation 
device. The provisions were intended to simulate a child's knee 
pressing against the actuation device at a particular level of force 
to ensure that it does not close. By its terms, the standard applies 
to vertically mounted switches, including those located in the 
vehicle's console or central touch display as in this case.
    2. Due to their specific operating parameters, even though the 
buttons used to activate car wash mode do not meet the performance 
requirement of paragraph S6(a),

[[Page 67605]]

the condition does not create an increased safety risk. As an 
initial matter, the car wash mode feature must first be activated by 
the user. Car wash mode is not automatically enabled unless and 
until the operator activates the feature by affirmatively accepting 
the option and turning the feature on. Thus, unless car wash mode is 
already active within the vehicle, the condition described above 
cannot occur.
    3. Once the vehicle has initialized car wash mode, the feature 
can only be activated through a series of steps using either the 
vehicle's central touch display or from a touchpad located in the 
center console. Activating car wash mode is a multi-step process and 
the process varies depending on the current menu contained on the 
display screen. For example, if car wash mode has been programmed by 
the user inside the ``favorites'' menu, then a series of two touches 
is needed to activate car wash mode. In all other cases, the 
operator would first need to change the display screen to the 
vehicle menu first and from there, navigate to the car wash mode 
icon. In either case, car wash mode will not become active unless 
each of these steps is executed in the corresponding order. Because 
of the complexity involved in navigating through the required 
sequence of events there is an extremely low likelihood of the car 
wash mode being inadvertently activated in the first place.
    4. Further, the sunroofs in the subject vehicles contain an 
auto-reverse feature. Upon detecting an object or obstruction inside 
the sunroof, it will automatically stop and reverse course and fully 
retract. While the sunroofs do not meet the requirements of 
paragraph S5, they are certified to the European standard UN-R-21. 
The European standard incorporates many of the performance features 
included in the automatic reversal function contained in FMVSS No. 
118, paragraph S5. The sunroofs in the subject vehicles will 
automatically reverse prior to exerting 100 Newtons of pinch force, 
and consistent with the options provided at paragraph S5.2, the 
sunroof will either retract to a position at least as wide as the 
initial position before closing or will allow a 200-mm rod to be 
inserted in the gap.
    5. The Agency has previously granted petitions for 
inconsequential treatment for FMVSS No. 118 involving similar 
circumstances and vehicle features. NHTSA granted a petition by 
General Motors involving a noncompliance with FMVSS No. 118, 
paragraph S4(e), where for 60 seconds after the vehicles are 
started, an issue with the sunroof module would allow the sunroof to 
close via the control button if the engine is turned off and a front 
door is opened. In that instance, in order to activate the sunroof, 
a series of specific steps must be taken in order and the steps must 
be completed within a 60-second time frame. See Decision Granting 
Petition for Inconsequential Noncompliance by General Motors 73 FR 
22459 (April 25, 2008). In granting the petition, the Agency found 
that the potential for entrapment in a power operated sunroof 
presented less of a risk of entrapment than power-operated windows 
because, in general, sunroofs are less physically accessible than 
power-operated windows. The decision also focused on the presence of 
an auto-reverse feature, which would reverse the movement of the 
sunroof before it exerted a pressure of 100 Newtons. In granting the 
motion, the Agency noted the presence of this auto-reverse feature 
as one that would further reduce the risk of entrapment.
    6. Much like the conditions present in the General Motors 
vehicles, the noncompliance in the car wash mode feature of the 
subject vehicles similarly does not create an increased safety risk. 
Assuming that the function has been initialized by the operator, a 
series of specific and coordinated steps must occur in order to 
activate car wash mode. If those steps are not carried out in the 
precise order required, then the car wash mode program will not be 
activated. Even in the unlikely event that the car wash mode 
function is inadvertently activated, there is no enhanced risk of 
injury because of the sunroof auto-reverse feature.

    Mercedes-Benz concludes by again contending 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.

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

Otto G. Matheke III,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2020-23512 Filed 10-22-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P