[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 93 (Friday, May 13, 2022)]
[Notices]
[Pages 29437-29440]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-10384]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket Nos. NHTSA-2021-0043 and NHTSA-2021-0072; Notice 1]


BMW of North America, LLC, and Mazda North American Operations, 
Receipt of Petitions for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petitions.

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SUMMARY: BMW of North America, LLC (BMW), a subsidiary of BMW AG, 
Munich, Germany, and Mazda North American Operations (Mazda) have 
determined that certain replacement seat belt assemblies manufactured 
for installation in certain BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce, and Mazda motor 
vehicles do not fully comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 
(FMVSS) No. 209, Seat Belt Assemblies. BMW and Mazda, collectively 
referred to as ``the petitioners,'' filed the appropriate noncompliance 
reports and subsequently petitioned NHTSA for a decision that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle 
safety. This document announces receipt of the petitioners' petitions.

DATES: Send comments on or before June 13, 2022.

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

[[Page 29438]]

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).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jack Chern, General Engineer, NHTSA, 
Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, (202) 366-0661.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Overview

    BMW has determined that certain replacement seat belt assemblies 
manufactured by Autoliv, ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF), and Joyson Safety 
Systems (JSS) for installation in certain MY 1990-2021 BMW, MY 2001-
2021 Mini, and MY 2003-2021 Rolls-Royce motor vehicles do not fully 
comply with the requirements of paragraph S4.1(k) of FMVSS No. 209, 
Seat Belt Assemblies (49 CFR 571.209). BMW filed a noncompliance report 
dated May 5, 2021, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and 
Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. BMW subsequently petitioned 
NHTSA on May 28, 2021, 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.
    Mazda has determined that certain replacement seat belt assemblies 
manufactured by Ashimori Industry Co. Ltd. (Ashimori), and JSS for 
installation in certain Model Year (MY) 2016-2021 Mazda 2, MY 2014-2021 
Mazda 3, and MY 2020-2021 Mazda CX-30 motor vehicles do not fully 
comply with the requirements of paragraph S4.1(k) of FMVSS No. 209, 
Seat Belt Assemblies (49 CFR 571.209). Mazda filed a noncompliance 
report dated August 5, 2021, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and 
Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. Mazda subsequently petitioned 
NHTSA on September 1, 2021, 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 the petitioners' petitions 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. Equipment Involved

    BMW submitted that an unknown number of replacement seat belt 
assemblies manufactured by Autoliv, ZF, and JSS and sold to BMW as 
replacement equipment for installation in the following BMW, Mini, and 
Rolls-Royce vehicles manufactured between January 1, 1990, and April 
28, 2021, are potentially involved:

BMW Models

 MY 2008-2013 1 Series;
 MY 2014-2021 2 Series;
 MY 1990-2021 3 Series;
 MY 2014-2021 4 Series;
 MY 1995-2021 5 Series;
 MY 2004-2020 6 Series;
 MY 1994-2021 7 Series;
 MY 2019-2021 8 Series;
 MY 2012-2021 X1;
 MY 2018-2021 X2;
 MY 2004-2021 X3;
 MY 2015-2021 X4;
 MY 1999-2021 X5;
 MY 2008-2021 X6;
 MY 2019-2021 X7;
 MY 2014-;2021 i3;
 MY 2014-2020 i8;
 MY 1996-2002 Z3;
 MY 2003-2021 Z4; and
 MY 2000-2003 Z8

Mini Models

 MY 2001-2021 Hardtop 2 Door;
 MY 2015-2021 Hardtop 4 Door;
 MY 2001-2021 Convertible;
 MY 2008-2021 Clubman;
 MY 2011-2021 Countryman;
 MY 2013-2016 Paceman;
 MY 2012-2015 Coupe; and
 MY 2012-2015 Roadster

Rolls-Royce Models

 MY 2003-2021 Phantom;
 MY 2003-2016 Convertible;
 MY 2003-2016 Coupe;
 MY 2010-2021 Ghost;
 MY 2013-2021 Wraith;
 MY 2016-2021 Dawn; and
 MY 2019-2021 Cullinan

    Mazda submitted that approximately 7,402 replacement seat belt 
assemblies manufactured by Ashimori, between April 6, 2014, and July 
27, 2021, and JSS between January 12, 2014, and May 6, 2021, are 
potentially involved. The seat belt assemblies were sold to Mazda as 
replacement equipment for installation in certain MY 2016-2021 Mazda 2, 
MY 2014-2021 Mazda 3, and MY 2020-2021 Mazda CX-30 motor vehicles.

III. Noncompliance

    BMW and Mazda explain that the noncompliance is that the subject 
seat belt assemblies sourced to their respective dealerships for use or 
subsequent resale to dealership customers as replacement equipment do 
not fully comply with all applicable requirements specified in 
paragraph S4.1(k) and (l) of FMVSS No. 209. Specifically, certain 
replacement seat belt assemblies were sold without the required 
accompanying instruction sheet providing information regarding 
installation of the assembly in a motor vehicle and regarding the 
proper use and maintenance for the replacement assembly.

IV. Rule Requirements

    Paragraphs S4.1(k) and (l) of FMVSS No. 209 include the 
requirements relevant to this petition. A seat belt assembly, other 
than a seat belt assembly installed in a motor vehicle by an automobile 
manufacturer, shall be accompanied by an instruction sheet providing 
sufficient information for installing the assembly in a motor vehicle. 
A seat belt assembly or retractor must also be accompanied by written 
instructions for the proper use of the assembly, stressing particularly 
the importance of wearing the assembly snugly and properly located on 
the body, and on the maintenance of the assembly and periodic 
inspection of all components.

V. Summary of the Petitioners' Petition

    The following views and arguments presented in this section, ``V. 
Summary of the Petitioners' Petitions,'' are the views and arguments 
provided by BMW and Mazda. They have not been evaluated by the Agency 
and do not reflect the views of the Agency. The petitioners describe 
the subject noncompliance and contend that the noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    In their petitions, BMW and Mazda state that the seat belt 
assemblies can

[[Page 29439]]

only be obtained through their respective dealers by using their parts 
ordering system which would ensure that the correct seat belt assembly 
is ordered. Both petitioners describe the process of ordering the part 
through its systems and explain that specific and detailed information 
needs to be provided to verify and order the correct equipment. The 
petitioners further explain that the seat belt assemblies can only be 
installed in their intended application.
    Both BMW and Mazda state that the information that would be found 
on the required accompanying instruction sheets is ``readily 
available'' from other sources. BMW explains that the installation 
instructions are free of charge to consumers who have already purchased 
replacement seat belt assemblies with missing instructions. Consumers 
can obtain the instructions, free of charge, from BMW's local dealer. 
Mazda explains that its usage and maintenance as well as installation 
instructions are provided at no charge. For further assistance, vehicle 
owners and third-party, independent repair facilities can contact 
Mazda's Customer Experience Center at 1-800-222-5500, Option #6 for 
help in accessing seat belt instructions. To expedite assistance, it is 
recommended to have the full seventeen-digit vehicle identification 
number ready.
    According to Mazda, the subject seat belt assemblies meet the 
performance requirements, as prescribed by FMVSS No. 209, therefore, 
``[t]here is no impact to performance, function, or occupant safety.'' 
Further, Mazda states it ``is not aware of any customer or field 
reports'' and BMW states that it is ``unaware of any complaints'' 
regarding the subject noncompliance. Mazda also states that it has not 
received any reports requesting installation instructions, which it 
believes ``to be indicative of the availability'' of the information 
from the aforementioned sources.
    The petitioners cite the following inconsequential noncompliance 
petitions that NHTSA has granted in the past which the petitioners 
claim to support the granting of their petitions for the subject 
noncompliance:
     FCA US LLC 84 FR 20948 (May 13, 2019);
     Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., 77 FR 24762 (April 
25, 2012);
     Bentley Motors, Inc., 76 FR 58343 (September 20, 2011);
     Hyundai Motor Company, 74 FR 9125 (March 2, 2009);
     Ford Motor Company, 73 FR 63051 (October 22, 2008);
     Ford Motor Company, 73 FR 11462 (March 3, 2008);
     Mazda North American Operations, 73 FR 11464 (March 3, 
2008); and
     Subaru of America, Inc., 65 FR 67471 (November 9, 2000).
    BMW states that as this issue became known, BMW Group communicated 
this topic across all of its brands (BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce) both 
internally to the appropriate departments, and externally to BMW Group 
dealer (service, parts and accessories) departments and personnel. 
Internally, the parts system now contains prompts to ensure that 
instructions are provided to a consumer when they purchase a 
replacement seat belt assembly. Externally, these communications 
include the steps that dealers must follow to ensure that installation 
instructions are provided to a consumer during the aftersales purchase 
process. BMW says that installation instructions are now provided to 
consumers when they purchase replacement seat belt assemblies.
    Mazda explains that it has previously petitioned NHTSA for a 
similar noncompliance in 2008 \1\ and that it ``remains compliant with 
processes that were revised in response to the previous petition with 
existing plants and suppliers.'' Mazda states that the subject 
noncompliances occurred because it opened a new vehicle production 
plant in Mexico with seatbelt assemblies being supplied by the Mexico-
based suppliers Ashimori & JSS which were ``entirely new business 
operations and processes.''
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    \1\ See Mazda North American Operations, Grant of petition for 
Inconsequential Noncompliance; 73 FR 11464 (March 3, 2008).
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    Mazda says that it has now ``implemented process changes'' to 
ensure prevention of future re-occurrences, Mazda is taking the 
following two actions: (i) Implementing a new process within the U.S. 
and Territories parts distribution centers and (ii) bolstering existing 
processes at the engineering and supplier levels.
    (i) New process in U.S. distribution centers--The new process 
entails setting up automated alerts to Parts Compliance and Quality 
Assurance groups whenever new seat belt parts are established. Upon 
receiving the alerts, both Parts Compliance and Quality Assurance will 
verify with supplier(s) that the documentation requirement from FMVSS 
209 has been followed and checked. Additionally, physical parts will be 
placed in quarantine until confirmation checks are completed that FMVSS 
209 requirements have been met. Once confirmation is completed, parts 
will then be released for shipment to fill customer orders. The new 
process accounts for future changes in business operations and/or 
suppliers, regardless of their global locations, since all parts coming 
into U.S. and Territory parts distribution centers will be captured 
under this new process.
    (ii) Bolstering existing process--Mazda's Supplier Quality 
Assurance (``SQA'') has put the following measures in place:
    a. Clarification of FMVSS 209 requirements in engineering drawings.
    b. Assure thorough understanding of FMVSS 209 requirement details 
with suppliers.
    c. Redevelop replacement parts packing process procedures at 
suppliers by (1) Addition/correction of procedure manual contents, (2) 
Adding identification labels to parts delivery, and (3) operating 
training and reinforcement of education.
    d. Strengthened audit procedures with suppliers when developing new 
service parts, including verifying packing process with evidence.
    e. Redevelopment of logistics contractor procedures to add or 
correct process procedures, including inspections, to confirm inclusion 
of installation documents in individual parts packaging.
    Mazda believes these additional actions will improve internal 
processes and ensure compliance with FMVSS 209 to prevent future 
reoccurrences.
    The petitioners conclude their petitions by contending that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle 
safety and that their respective petitions 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 
these petitions only applies to the subject replacement seat belt 
assemblies that the petitioners no longer controlled at the time they 
determined that the noncompliance existed. However, any decision on 
these petitions does not relieve equipment distributors and dealers of 
the prohibitions on the sale, offer for sale, or introduction or 
delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of the noncompliant 
replacement seat belt

[[Page 29440]]

assemblies under their control after the petitioners 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. 2022-10384 Filed 5-12-22; 8:45 am]
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