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General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Volt, Buick Verano

General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Claude H. Harris
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
October 28, 2013


[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 208 (Monday, October 28, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 64289-64290]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-25251]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2013-0040; Notice 1]


General Motors, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Receipt of Petition.

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SUMMARY: General Motors, LLC (GM) has determined that certain model 
year (MY) 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Volt, and Buick Verano 
passenger cars manufactured between November 15, 2012 and January 11, 
2013, do not fully comply with paragraph S4.2.6 of Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 202a, Head Restraints; Mandatory 
Applicability Begins on September 1, 2009. GM has filed an appropriate 
report dated February 15, 2013, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and 
Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports.

DATES: November 27, 2013.

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 at the beginning of this notice and be 
submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to: 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: 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 Federal Holidays.
     Electronically: Submit comments electronically by: logging 
onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at http://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 your comments were received, please 
enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the comments. Note that 
all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.
    Documents submitted to a docket may be viewed by anyone at the 
address and times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the 
Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by following the online 
instructions for accessing the dockets. DOT's complete Privacy Act 
Statement is available for review in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000, (65 FR 19477-78).
    The petition, supporting materials, and all comments received 
before the close of business on the closing date indicated below will 
be filed and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials 
received after the closing date will also be filed and will be 
considered to the extent possible. When the petition is granted or 
denied, notice of the decision will be published in the Federal 
Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    I. GM's Petition: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) (see 
implementing rule at 49 CFR part 556), GM submitted a petition for an 
exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. 
Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to 
motor vehicle safety.
    This notice of receipt of GM'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: Affected are approximately 32,838 MY 2013 
Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Volt, and Buick Verano passenger cars 
manufactured between November 15, 2012 and January 11, 2013.
    III. Noncompliance: GM explains that the noncompliance is that 
between 8 and 12 percent of the affected vehicles have rear outboard 
head restraints that do not meet the height retention requirements 
specified in paragraph S4.2.6 of FMVSS No. 202a.
    GM further explained that the noncompliance is the result of a 
notch in one of the two head restraint rods not being machined to 
specifications. This notch corresponds to the rear head restraint's 
highest adjustment position. This condition does not affect the ability 
to lock the head restraint in the middle or lowest positions. Nor does 
it make the head restraint capable of being more easily removed.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S4.2.6 of FMVSS 202a specifically states:

    S4.2.6 Height retention. When tested in accordance with S5.2.6 
of this section, the cylindrical test device specified in S5.2.6(b) 
must return to within 13 mm of its initial reference position after 
application of at least a 500 N load and subsequent reduction of the 
load to 50 N 1 N. During application of the initial 50 N 
reference load, as specified in S5.2.6(b)(2) of this section, the 
cylindrical test device must not move downward more than 25 mm.

    V. Summary of GM's Analysis: GM stated its belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for the 
following reasons:
    The root cause of the condition was determined to be a change made 
by a machine operator which reduced the clamping force in the operation 
that cuts the notches in the head restraint rod, slightly altering the 
shape of the notch. Restraints with the altered notch have a lower 
retention force than design intent.
    The retention force for the head restraints with the improperly 
machined notch was measured as approximately 150 N.
    GM recognizes that one of NHTSA's concerns was improper positioning 
of head restraints due to the head restraint moving out of position 
either during normal vehicle use or in a crash, as stated in the FMVSS 
No. 202a NPRM (January 4, 2001, 66 FR 979).
    For everyday use, with the adjustment button depressed, these head 
restraints

[[Page 64290]]

are designed to move down with a force of 4020N. The 
measured retention force for the improperly machined notch is nearly 4 
times the nominal adjustment force and 2.5 times the maximum. Without 
the button depressed, these head restraints will not ``slip'' or easily 
move down from the top adjustment position. For most, it would take a 
deliberate two-handed action to cause the restraint to move from the 
top to the mid position without activating the release button. The 
tactile feedback from such forced movement would be clear indication 
that it is not the correct method for adjusting the restraint. The 
opportunity for inadvertent misadjustment of the restraint is also 
diminished due to the fact that these are rear seat head restraints 
with no seating positions behind them. They are not at risk for 
misadjustment as a result of someone bumping or grabbing the restraint 
for assistance during vehicle ingress and egress.
    FMVSS No. 202a provides two compliance options for head restraints. 
They are Paragraph S4.2 (Dimensional and Static Performance) or 
paragraph S4.3 (Dynamic Performance and Width). As with most of its 
vehicles, GM chose to certify the rear seat head restraints for the 
2013 Cruze, Verano and Volt, to S4.2 (the ``static option'') and the 
front head restraints to S4.3 (the ``dynamic option'')
    In order to evaluate the efficacy of the rear head restraints with 
the improperly machined notches, GM conducted a series of 6 sled tests 
at MGA Research. Two tests each were run for the Cruze, Volt and 
Verano. For each vehicle, one test was run according to the procedure 
specified by FMVSS No. 202a paragraph S4.3 which places the head 
restraint in the mid-position, and a second test was run in the same 
manner as the first test, but with the head restraint placed in the top 
position. The top position is that used in the height retention test of 
the static option, and that position is the one with the improperly 
machined notch. Improperly machined head restraints and corresponding 
rod guides were used for each test.
    Significantly, in the three sled tests with the head restraint in 
the uppermost position, the head restraint did not move down. For all 
tests, the head restraint remained in its pretest height adjustment 
throughout the test. Also, in all sled tests (upper and mid position) 
the dummy met the injury criteria specified in the requirements for the 
dynamic option (<12 degree of neck rotation, <500 HIC) and head 
restraint width >170 mm.

GM's Arguments

    GM believes that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential to 
motor vehicle safety because for the following reasons occupant 
protection is not compromised:
    1. The noncompliant test vehicles meet the requirements specified 
under the dynamic compliance option 1 in all six sled tests. Therefore, 
GM believes that the improperly machined head restraint rod notches do 
not expose occupants to a significantly greater risk than those with 
properly machined notches.
    2. The head restraints remained in their adjusted positions 
throughout the tests.
    3. The occupant performance criteria specified for the dynamic 
compliance option was met in both the mid and upper head restraint 
adjustment positions.
    4. These head restraints will maintain their adjusted positions 
during everyday use of the vehicle.
    5. Paragraph S4.2.6 of FMVSS No. 202a allows 13 mm of permanent 
displacement of the head restraint. By design, the distance between the 
top and mid adjustment positions of the subject head restraints is 19 
mm. Thus, the potential head restraint displacement due to the 
improperly machined notch is limited to 19 mm.
    6. The owner's manual instructions continue to meet all the 
requirements of FMVSS No. 202a. Even though the head restraint could be 
forced down to the mid-position, it still requires substantially more 
effort than it does when the adjustment button at the base of the head 
restraint is depressed. The owner's manual instructions continue to be 
the recommended manner of adjustment.
    7. GM is not aware of any injuries or customer complaints 
associated with this condition.
    GM has additionally informed NHTSA that it has corrected the 
noncompliance so that all future production vehicles will comply with 
FMVSS No. 202a.
    In summation, GM believes that the described noncompliance of its 
vehicles is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that its 
petition, to exempt from providing recall notification of noncompliance 
as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the recall 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, these provisions 
only apply to the 32,838 vehicles that GM 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 for delivery or introduction into interstate commerce of 
the noncompliant vehicles under their control after GM 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.

Claude H. Harris,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2013-25251 Filed 10-25-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P



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