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Petition for Exemption from the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Volkswagen

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Federal Highway Administration, Audi A4

Petition for Exemption from the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Volkswagen

Christopher J. Bonanti
Federal Register
October 4, 2011


[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 192 (Tuesday, October 4, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61477-61478]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-25541]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Petition for Exemption from the Vehicle Theft Prevention 
Standard; Volkswagen

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

ACTION: Grant of petition for exemption.

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SUMMARY: This document grants in full the Volkswagen Group of America's 
(VW) petition for exemption of the Audi A4 allroad vehicle line in 
accordance with Sec.  543.9(c)(2) of 49 CFR part 543, Exemption from 
the Theft Prevention Standard. This 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 (49 CFR part 541).

DATES: The exemption granted by this notice is effective beginning with 
the 2013 model year.

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a petition dated August 8, 2011, VW 
requested an exemption from the parts-marking requirements of the Theft 
Prevention Standard(49 CFR part 541) for the Audi A4 allroad vehicle 
line beginning with MY 2013. The petition requested an exemption from 
parts-marking pursuant to 49 CFR part 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard, based on the installation of an antitheft device 
as standard equipment for an entire vehicle line.
    Under Sec.  543.5(a), a manufacturer may petition NHTSA to grant an 
exemption for one vehicle line per model year. In its petition, VW 
provided a detailed description and diagram of the identity, design and 
location of the components of the antitheft device for its new Audi A4 
allroad vehicle line. VW will install its passive, transponder-based 
electronic engine immobilizer antitheft device as standard equipment on 
its Audi A4 allroad vehicle line. VW stated that its antitheft device 
is an electronic engine immobilizer which utilizes a transponder 
ignition key and an alarm system. Key components of the antitheft 
device will include a passive electronic engine immobilizer, electronic 
ignition lock, adapted ignition key, engine control unit, electronic 
steering column lock and an automatic transmission gear box (if 
available). VW stated that its vehicle line will also include an 
antitheft alarm system as standard equipment. Specifically, VW stated 
that when the vehicle is locked, the alarm system monitors and protects 
the engine compartment, luggage compartment and doors, and when the 
system is activated, the alarm will trigger if one of the doors, the 
engine hood or the rear hatch lid are opened. Specifically, VW stated 
that when any of the protected components within its vehicle enclosure 
deterrent system are violated, an audible horn signal is emitted and 
the vehicle's emergency flasher system is activated. VW's submission is 
considered a complete petition as required by 49 CFR 543.7, in that it 
meets the general requirements contained in Sec.  543.5 and the 
specific content requirements of Sec.  543.6.
    VW stated that activation occurs when the key fob advanced key 
system is removed from the car, or when the mechanical ignition key is 
switched to the OFF position causing lock out of the engine control 
unit. VW also stated that deactivation of the antitheft system occurs 
when the mechanical ignition key is switched to the ON position or 
while the key fob advanced key is located inside the car. VW stated 
that the key transponder sends a fixed code to the immobilizer control 
unit, and if the code is identified as the correct code, a variable 
code is generated in the immobilizer control unit and sent to the 
transponder. VW further stated that after the electronic steering 
column is unlocked and there is full authorization for the ignition 
switch to be on, the engine control unit sends a variable code to the 
immobilizer control unit, enabling start up of the vehicle. VW believes 
that the code is undecipherable because a new variable code is 
generated each time during this secret computing process.
    In addressing the specific content requirements of 543.6, VW 
provided information on the reliability and durability of its proposed 
device. To ensure reliability and durability of the

[[Page 61478]]

device, VW stated that it certifies that its antitheft device for the 
Audi A4 allroad has been tested for compliance to the corporate 
requirements for electrical and electronic assemblies in motor vehicles 
related to performance. VW provided a detailed list of the tests 
conducted (i.e., electrical system temperature stability, mechanical 
integrity, electrical performance, EMC, environmental compatibility and 
service life) and believes that the device is reliable and durable 
since the device complied with its specific requirements for each test. 
Furthermore, VW stated that after the electronic module is recognized 
by the key transponder, a pairing between the key and the immobilizer 
occurs at which point the key can no longer be used for any other 
immobilizer.
    VW stated that the Audi A4 allroad will be a new, small 
multipurpose passenger vehicle (MPV) line based on the Audi A4 sedan. 
The Audi A4 allroad has no theft rate history or data available. 
However, VW provided data on the theft reduction benefits experienced 
by other vehicle lines installed with immobilizer devices that have 
already been granted petitions for exemptions by the agency.
    VW compared the device proposed for its vehicle line with other 
devices which NHTSA has determined to be as effective in reducing and 
deterring motor vehicle theft as would compliance with the parts-
marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard. VW stated that 
except for the 2004 MY, the Audi allroad MPV had a lower theft rate 
than its passenger car counterpart, Audi A6. Specifically, the agency's 
data show that theft rates for the Audi A6 for MYs 2006-2008 are 
1.8143, 1.5437 and 1.4414 respectively. Using an average of 3 MYs' data 
(2006-2008), the theft rate for the Audi A6 is well below the median at 
1.5998. VW also stated that the theft rates for the Audi A4 have been 
near the median and based on comparison, the Audi A4 allroad is 
expected to have a lower theft rate. Specifically, the agency's data 
show that theft rates for the Audi A4 for MYs' 2006-2008 are 1.0203, 
1.2892 and 1.1463 respectively. Using an average of 3 MYs' data (2006-
2008), the theft rate for the Audi A4 vehicle line is well below the 
median at 1.1520. VW also provided data from NICB in support of the 
effectiveness of immobilizer-installed vehicles to reduce thefts. VW 
stated that according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) 
theft statistics, MY 1997 Ford Mustangs installed with a standard 
immobilizer showed a 70% reduction in theft rate when compared to MY 
1995 Ford Mustangs without an immobilizer.
    Based on the evidence submitted by VW, the agency believes that the 
antitheft device for the Audi A4 allroad 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 (49 CFR part 541).
    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 33106 and 49 CFR 543.7(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. The agency 
finds that VW has provided adequate reasons for its belief that the 
antitheft device for the VW Audi A4 allroad 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 (49 CFR part 541). This conclusion is based on the information 
VW provided about its device.
    The agency concludes that the device will provide the five types of 
performance listed in Sec.  543.6(a)(3): promoting activation; 
attracting attention to the efforts of an unauthorized person to enter 
or move a vehicle by means other than a key; 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.
    For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full VW's 
petition for exemption for the VW Audi A4 allroad vehicle line from the 
parts-marking requirements of 49 CFR Part 541. 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 part 
543.7(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 VW decides not to use the exemption for this line, it must 
formally notify the agency. If such a decision is made, the line must 
be fully marked according to the requirements under 49 CFR 541.5 and 
541.6 (marking of major component parts and replacement parts).
    NHTSA notes that if VW 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. Part 543.7(d) states that a Part 543 
exemption applies only to vehicles that belong to a line exempted under 
this part and equipped with the anti-theft device on which the line's 
exemption is based. Further, Part 543.9(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 
that exemption.''
    The agency wishes to minimize the administrative burden that Part 
543.9(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 the 
manufacturer 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.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 33106; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50.

    Issued on: September 28, 2011.
Christopher J. Bonanti,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2011-25541 Filed 10-3-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P



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