[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 137 (Wednesday, July 21, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38526-38528]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-15522]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Petition for Exemption From the Federal Motor Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard; BMW of North America, LLC

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

ACTION: Grant of petition for exemption.

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SUMMARY: This document grants in full the BMW of North America, LLC's 
(BMW) petition for exemption from the Federal Motor Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard (theft prevention standard) for its Toyota Supra 
vehicle line beginning in model year (MY) 2022. The petition is granted 
because the agency has determined that the antitheft device to be 
placed on the line as standard equipment is likely to be as effective 
in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the 
parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention standard. BMW also 
requested confidential treatment for specific information in its 
petition. Therefore, no confidential information provided for purposes 
of this notice has been disclosed.

DATES: The exemption granted by this notice is effective beginning with 
the 2022 model year.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carlita Ballard, Office of 
International Policy, Fuel Economy, and Consumer Programs, NHTSA, West 
Building, W43-439, NRM-310, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 
20590. Ms. Ballard's phone number is (202) 366-5222. Her fax number is 
(202) 493-2990.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 331, the Secretary 
of Transportation (and the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) by delegation) is required to promulgate a theft 
prevention standard to provide for the identification of certain motor 
vehicles and their major replacement parts to impede motor vehicle 
theft. NHTSA promulgated regulations at part 541 (theft prevention 
standard) to require parts-marking for specified passenger motor 
vehicles and light trucks. Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 33106, manufacturers 
that are subject to the parts-marking requirements may petition the 
Secretary of Transportation for an exemption for a line of passenger 
motor vehicles equipped as standard equipment with an antitheft device 
that the Secretary decides is likely to be as effective in reducing and 
deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking 
requirements. In accordance with this statute, NHTSA promulgated 49 CFR 
part 543, which establishes the process through which manufacturers may 
seek an exemption from the theft prevention standard.
    49 CFR 543.5 provides general submission requirements for petitions 
and states that each manufacturer may petition NHTSA for an exemption 
of one vehicle line per model year. Among other requirements, 
manufacturers must identify whether the exemption is sought under 
section 543.6 or section 543.7. Under section 543.6, a manufacturer may 
request an exemption by providing specific information about the 
antitheft device, its capabilities, and the reasons the petitioner 
believes the device to be as effective at reducing and deterring theft 
as compliance with the parts-marking requirements. Section 543.7 
permits a manufacturer to request an exemption under a more streamlined 
process if the vehicle line is equipped with an antitheft device (an 
``immobilizer'') as standard equipment that complies with one of the 
standards specified in that section.
    Section 543.8 establishes requirements for processing petitions for 
exemption from the theft prevention standard. As stated in section 
543.8(a), NHTSA processes any complete exemption petition. If NHTSA 
receives an incomplete petition, NHTSA will notify the petitioner of 
the deficiencies. Once NHTSA receives a complete petition the agency 
will process it and, in accordance with section 543.8(b), will grant 
the petition if it determines that, based upon substantial evidence, 
the standard equipment antitheft device is likely to be as effective in 
reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the 
parts-marking requirements of part 541.
    Section 543.8(c) requires NHTSA to issue its decision either to 
grant or to deny an exemption petition not later than 120 days after 
the date on which a complete petition is filed. If NHTSA does not make 
a decision within the 120-day period, the petition shall be deemed to 
be approved and the manufacturer shall be exempt from the standard for 
the line covered by the petition for the subsequent model year.\1\ 
Exemptions granted under part 543 apply only to the vehicle line or 
lines that are subject to the grant and that are equipped with the 
antitheft device on which the line's exemption was based, and are 
effective for the model year beginning after the model year in which 
NHTSA issues the notice of exemption, unless the notice of exemption 
specifies a later year.
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    \1\ 49 U.S.C. 33106(d).
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    Sections 543.8(f) and (g) apply to the manner in which NHTSA's 
decisions on petitions are to be made known. Under section 543.8(f), if 
the petition is sought under section 543.6, NHTSA publishes a notice of 
its decision to grant or deny the exemption petition in the Federal 
Register and notifies the petitioner in writing. Under section 
543.8(g), if the petition is sought under section 543.7, NHTSA notifies 
the petitioner in writing of the agency's decision to grant or deny the 
exemption petition.
    This grant of petition for exemption considers BMW of North 
America, LLC's (BMW) petition for its Toyota Supra vehicle line 
beginning in MY 2022. BMW's petition is granted under 49 U.S.C. 33106 
and 49 CFR 543.8(c), which state that if the Secretary of 
Transportation (NHTSA, by delegation) does not make a decision about a 
petition within 120 days of the petition submission, the petition shall 
be deemed to be approved and the manufacturer shall be exempt from the 
standard for the line covered by the petition for the subsequent model 
year. Separately, based on the information provided in BMW's petition, 
NHTSA has determined that the antitheft device to be placed on its 
vehicle line as standard equipment is likely to be as effective in 
reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the 
parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention standard.

I. Specific Petition Content Requirements Under 49 CFR 543.6

    Pursuant to 49 CFR part 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft 
Prevention, BMW petitioned for an exemption for its specified vehicle 
line from the parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention 
standard, beginning in MY 2022. BMW petitioned under 49 CFR 543.6, 
Petition: Specific content requirements, which, as described above, 
requires manufacturers to provide specific information about the 
antitheft device installed as standard equipment on all vehicles in the 
line for which an exemption is sought, the antitheft device's 
capabilities, and the reasons the petitioner believes the device to be 
as effective at reducing and deterring theft as compliance with the 
parts-marking requirements.

[[Page 38527]]

    More specifically, section 543.6(a)(1) requires petitions to 
include a statement that an antitheft device will be installed as 
standard equipment on all vehicles in the line for which the exemption 
is sought. Under section 543.6(a)(2), each petition must list each 
component in the antitheft system, and include a diagram showing the 
location of each of those components within the vehicle. As required by 
section 543.6(a)(3), each petition must include an explanation of the 
means and process by which the device is activated and functions, 
including any aspect of the device designed to: (1) Facilitate or 
encourage its activation by motorists; (2) attract attention to the 
efforts of an unauthorized person to enter or move a vehicle by means 
other than a key; (3) prevent defeating or circumventing the device by 
an unauthorized person attempting to enter a vehicle by means other 
than a key; (4) prevent the operation of a vehicle which an 
unauthorized person has entered using means other than a key; and (5) 
ensure the reliability and durability of the device.\2\
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    \2\ 49 CFR 543.6(a)(3).
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    In addition to providing information about the antitheft device and 
its functionality, petitioners must also submit the reasons for their 
belief that the antitheft device will be effective in reducing and 
deterring motor vehicle theft, including any theft data and other data 
that are available to the petitioner and form a basis for that 
belief,\3\ and the reasons for their belief that the agency should 
determine that the antitheft device is likely to be as effective as 
compliance with the parts-marking requirements of part 541 in reducing 
and deterring motor vehicle theft. In support of this belief, the 
petitioners should include any statistical data that are available to 
the petitioner and form the basis for the petitioner's belief that a 
line of passenger motor vehicles equipped with the antitheft device is 
likely to have a theft rate equal to or less than that of passenger 
motor vehicles of the same, or a similar, line which have parts marked 
in compliance with part 541.\4\
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    \3\ 49 CFR 543.6(a)(4).
    \4\ 49 CFR 543.6(a)(5).
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    The following sections describe BMW's petition information provided 
pursuant to 49 CFR part 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft Prevention. 
To the extent that specific information in BMW's petition is subject to 
a properly filed confidentiality request, that information was not 
disclosed as part of this notice.\5\
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    \5\ 49 CFR 512.20(a).
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    In a petition dated November 9, 2020, BMW requested an exemption 
from the parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention standard 
for the Toyota Supra vehicle line beginning with MY 2022.
    In its petition, BMW provided a detailed description and diagram of 
the identity, design, and location of the components of the antitheft 
device for its Toyota Supra vehicle line. Under 543.6(a)(3), BMW stated 
that its Toyota Supra vehicle line will be installed with a passive, 
electronically-coded, vehicle immobilizer system (EWS) as standard 
equipment that will prevent the vehicle from being driven away under 
its own engine power. Key features of the antitheft device will include 
a remote-control w/high frequency (HF) receiver, mechanical keys, low 
frequency antenna (LF), radio frequency remote control w/transponder, 
engine control unit (DME) with encoded start release input, 
transmission control unit (EGS) and an EWS (BDC) control unit. BMW 
stated that it will not offer an audible or visible alarm feature on 
the proposed device.
    Pursuant to section 543.6(a)(3), BMW explained the means and 
process by which the immobilizer device is activated and functions. BMW 
stated that activation of its antitheft device occurs automatically 
when the engine is shut off and the vehicle key is removed from the 
ignition system. BMW stated that a transponder (transmitter/receiver) 
in the radio frequency remote control communicates with the EWS (BDC) 
control unit providing the interface to the HF receiver, LF antenna and 
ring antenna, engine control unit and starter. After an initial 
starting value, the authentication uses the challenge response 
technique with symmetric secret key. BMW further stated that when the 
control unit identifies the correct release signal, the ignition signal 
and fuel supply are released allowing operation of the vehicle. BMW 
stated that deactivation may not be carried out with the mechanical 
key, but rather must occur by electronic means.
    BMW also stated that the vehicle is equipped with a central-locking 
system that can be operated to lock and unlock all doors or to unlock 
only the driver's door, preventing forced entry into the vehicle 
through the passenger doors. BMW further stated that the vehicle can be 
further secured by locking the doors and hood using either the key-lock 
cylinder on the driver's door or the remote frequency remote control. 
BMW stated that the frequency for the remote control constantly changes 
to prevent an unauthorized person from opening the vehicle by 
intercepting the signals of its remote control.
    As required in section 543.6(a)(3)(v), BMW provided information on 
the reliability and durability of its proposed device. To ensure 
reliability and durability of its device, BMW stated that it conducted 
tests on the antitheft device which complied with its own specific 
standards. BMW further stated that its antitheft device fulfills the 
requirements of the January 1995 European vehicle insurance companies. 
In further addressing the reliability and durability of its device, BMW 
provided information on the uniqueness of its mechanical keys to be 
used on the Toyota Supra vehicle line. Specifically, BMW stated that 
the vehicle's mechanical keys are unique because they require a special 
key blank, cutting machine and a unique vehicle code to allow for key 
duplication. BMW further stated that the new keys will only be issued 
to authorized persons and will incorporate special guide-way millings, 
making the locks almost impossible to pick and the keys impossible to 
duplicate on the open market.
    BMW further stated that all of its vehicles are currently equipped 
with antitheft devices as standard equipment, including its Toyota 
Supra vehicle line. BMW compared the effectiveness of its antitheft 
device with devices which NHTSA has previously determined to be as 
effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as would 
compliance with the parts-marking requirements of Part 541. BMW stated 
that its antitheft system on the Toyota Supra vehicle line is the same 
system employed on its existing 2 series vehicle line. BMW also stated 
that the agency's most recent theft rate data for MY/CY 2014 indicate a 
minor decrease and downward trend for those vehicles installed with its 
antitheft device which have been granted parts-marking exemptions by 
the agency.

III. Decision To Grant the Petition

    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 33106 and 49 CFR 543.8(b), the agency grants 
a petition for exemption from the parts-marking requirements of part 
541, either in whole or in part, if it determines that, based upon 
substantial evidence, the standard equipment antitheft device is likely 
to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as 
compliance with the parts-marking requirements of part 541, or if 
deemed approved under 49 U.S.C. 33106(d). As discussed above, in this 
case, BMW's petition is granted under 49 U.S.C. 33106(d).
    However, separately, NHTSA also finds that BMW has provided 
adequate reasons for its belief that the antitheft device for its 
vehicle line is likely to be

[[Page 38528]]

as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as 
compliance with the parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention 
standard. This conclusion is based on the information BMW provided 
about its antitheft device. NHTSA believes, based on BMW's supporting 
evidence, that the antitheft device described for its vehicle line is 
likely to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft 
as compliance with the parts-marking requirements of the theft 
prevention standard.
    The agency concludes that BMW's antitheft device will provide the 
four of the five types of performance features listed in section 
543.6(a)(3): Promoting activation; preventing defeat or circumvention 
of the device by unauthorized persons; preventing operation of the 
vehicle by unauthorized entrants; and ensuring the reliability and 
durability of the device.
    The agency notes that 49 CFR part 541, Appendix A-1, identifies 
those lines that are exempted from the theft prevention standard for a 
given model year. 49 CFR 543.8(f) contains publication requirements 
incident to the disposition of all part 543 petitions. Advanced 
listing, including the release of future product nameplates, the 
beginning model year for which the petition is granted and a general 
description of the antitheft device is necessary in order to notify law 
enforcement agencies of new vehicle lines exempted from the parts-
marking requirements of the theft prevention standard.
    If BMW decides not to use the exemption for its requested vehicle 
line, the manufacturer must formally notify the agency. If such a 
decision is made, the line must be fully marked as required by 49 CFR 
541.5 and 541.6 (marking of major component parts and replacement 
parts).
    NHTSA notes that if BMW wishes in the future to modify the device 
on which this exemption is based, the company may have to submit a 
petition to modify the exemption. Section 543.8(d) states that a part 
543 exemption applies only to vehicles that belong to a line exempted 
under this part and equipped with the antitheft device on which the 
line's exemption is based. Further, section 543.10(c)(2) provides for 
the submission of petitions ``to modify an exemption to permit the use 
of an antitheft device similar to but differing from the one specified 
in the exemption.''
    The agency wishes to minimize the administrative burden that 
section 543.10(c)(2) could place on exempted vehicle manufacturers and 
itself. The agency did not intend in drafting part 543 to require the 
submission of a modification petition for every change to the 
components or design of an antitheft device. The significance of many 
such changes could be de minimis. Therefore, NHTSA suggests that if BMW 
contemplates making any changes, the effects of which might be 
characterized as de minimis, it should consult the agency before 
preparing and submitting a petition to modify.
    For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full BMW's 
petition for exemption for the Toyota Supra vehicle line from the 
parts-marking requirements of 49 CFR part 541, beginning with its MY 
2022 vehicles.

    Issued under authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8.
Raymond R. Posten,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2021-15522 Filed 7-20-21; 8:45 am]
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