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Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Volkswagen Eos

Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard; Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Christopher J. Bonanti
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
October 30, 2012


[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 210 (Tuesday, October 30, 2012)]
[Notices]
[Pages 65769-65770]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-26626]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Petition for Exemption From the Vehicle Theft Prevention 
Standard; Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

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 Volkswagen Group of America, 
Inc.'s (Volkswagen) petition for exemption of the Volkswagen Eos 
vehicle line in accordance with 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, Federal 
Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard.

DATES: The exemption granted by this notice is effective beginning with 
the 2014 model year.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Deborah Mazyck, Office of 
International Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer Programs, NHTSA, West 
Building, W43-443, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. 
Ms. Mazyck's phone number is (202) 366-4139. Her fax number is (202) 
493-2990.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:  In a petition dated June 27, 2012, 
Volkswagen requested an exemption from the parts-marking requirements 
of the Theft Prevention Standard (49 CFR Part 541) for the new MY 2014 
Eos vehicle line. The petition requested an exemption from parts-
marking requirement 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, 
Volkswagen provided a detailed description and diagram of the identity, 
design, and location of the components of the antitheft device for its 
Eos vehicle line. Volkswagen will install its fourth generation, 
transponder-based electronic engine immobilizer antitheft device as 
standard equipment on its Eos vehicle line beginning with MY 2014. 
Volkswagen stated that its immobilizer device is aimed to actively 
incorporate the engine control unit into the evaluation and monitoring 
process. Key components of the antitheft device will include a passive 
immobilizer, a warning message indicator, an adapted transponder 
ignition key, an ignition lock reading coil, an engine control unit and 
an immobilizer control unit. Activation of the immobilizer device 
occurs when the mechanical ignition key is switched to the OFF position 
or when the key transponder is taken outside the vehicle in the 
optional keyless start option. Deactivation of the device occurs when 
the ignition is turned on or the key transponder is recognized by the 
immobilizer control unit. The key transponder sends a fixed code to the 
immobilizer control unit. If this is identified as the correct code, a 
variable code is generated in the immobilizer control unit and sent to 
the transponder. A secret arithmetic process is then started in the 
transponder and the control unit according to a set of specific 
equations. The results of the computing process are evaluated in the 
control unit and if they tally, the vehicle key is acknowledged as 
correct. The engine control unit then sends a variable code to the 
immobilizer control unit. If all these data match up with one another, 
start-up of the vehicle is enabled. Volkswagen stated that a new 
variable code is generated each time during this secret computing 
process. Therefore, Volkswagen believes that the code is 
undecipherable. Volkswagen stated that it will also offer a keyless 
start option for the vehicle line. Volkswagen'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.
    Volkswagen stated that the antitheft device will also include an 
audible and visible alarm feature as standard equipment. When the 
system is activated, the alarm will trigger if one of the doors, the 
engine hood or the luggage compartment lid are forcibly opened. 
Volkswagen also stated that when any of the protected components are 
violated, the horn will sound and the vehicle's turn signals will 
flash. The antitheft alarm system is automatically activated when the 
vehicle is locked by pressing the lock button on the remote control 
vehicle key. Deactivation of the alarm system occurs by pressing the 
unlock button on the remote control vehicle key or turning on the 
ignition with a valid key.
    In addressing the specific content requirements of 543.6, 
Volkswagen provided information on the reliability and durability of 
its proposed device. To ensure reliability and durability of the 
device, Volkswagen stated that the antitheft device has been tested for 
compliance to its corporate requirements for electrical and electronic 
assemblies in motor vehicles related to performance.
    Volkswagen stated that the Eos vehicle line was introduced in MY 
2007 as a parts-marked vehicle and was also equipped with a standard 
anti-theft device. Volkswagen also stated that the antitheft device has 
been effective in maintaining a low theft rate for the Eos and that 
removal of parts-marking will not have an adverse effect on the theft 
rate. Volkswagen stated that the theft rates for MYs 2007, 2008 and 
2009 are 0.8250, 0.7239 and 0.5229, respectively. Using an average of 3 
MYs of the most recent theft data (2008-2010), the theft rate for the 
Eos vehicle line is well below the median at 0.1736.
    Volkswagen 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. Specifically, 
Volkswagen 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. Volkswagen 
stated the theft rates for the MYs 2007-2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse, BMW 3, 
Volkswagen Golf/GTI, Volkswagen New Beetle and the MYs 2008-2009 BMW 1 
series vehicles have been below the median theft rate. Using an average 
of 3 MYs data (2007-2009), the average theft rates are 2.5788, 0.6548, 
1.1433, and 0.6025, respectively. The average theft rate using two MYs 
data for the BMW 1 series is 0.2383. Volkswagen also stated that the 
proposed device is similar to the antitheft device installed on its MY 
2011 Tiguan vehicle line which was

[[Page 65770]]

granted an exemption by the agency on December 4, 2009 (see 74 FR 
63820).
    In support of its belief that its antitheft device will be as or 
more effective in reducing and deterring vehicle theft than the parts-
marking requirement, Volkswagen referenced the effectiveness of 
immobilizer devices installed on other vehicles for which NHTSA has 
granted exemptions. Specifically, Volkswagen referenced information 
from the Highway Loss Data Institute which showed that BMW vehicles 
experienced theft loss reductions resulting in a 73% decrease in 
relative claim frequency and a 78% lower average loss payment per claim 
for vehicles equipped with an immobilizer. Volkswagen also stated that 
NCIC data showed a 70% reduction in theft when comparing the MY 1987 
Ford Mustang with a standard immobilizer to the MY 1995 Ford Mustang 
without an immobilizer.
    Based on the supporting evidence submitted by Volkswagen on the 
device, the agency believes that the antitheft device for the Eos 
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). The agency 
concludes that the device will provide the five types of performance 
listed in Sec.  543.6(a)(3): promoting activation; attract 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.
    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 Volkswagen has provided adequate reasons for its belief that 
the antitheft device for the Volkswagen Eos 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 
Volkswagen provided about its device.
    For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full 
Volkswagen's petition for exemption for the Volkswagen Eos vehicle line 
from the parts-marking requirements of 49 CFR Part 541, beginning with 
the 2014 model year vehicles. 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 Volkswagen 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 Parts 
541.5 and 541.6 (marking of major component parts and replacement 
parts).
    NHTSA notes that if Volkswagen 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: October 24, 2012.
Christopher J. Bonanti,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2012-26626 Filed 10-29-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P



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