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Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Determination of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Determination of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Barry Felrice
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
February 11, 1994


[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 29 (Friday, February 11, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-3188]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: February 11, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
[Docket No. 94-12; Notice 1]

 

Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for 
Determination of Inconsequential Noncompliance

    Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc. (Mercedes) of Montvale, New 
Jersey has determined that the headlamps on some of its vehicles fail 
to comply with the lens bonding requirements of 49 CFR 571.108, Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, ``Lamps, Reflective Devices and 
Associated Equipment,'' and has filed an appropriate report pursuant to 
49 CFR Part 573, ``Defect and Noncompliance Reports.'' Mercedes has 
also petitioned to be exempted from the notification and remedy 
requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 
U.S.C. 1381 et seq.) on the basis that the noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    This notice of receipt of a petition is published under section 157 
of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1417) 
and does not represent any agency decision or other exercise of 
judgment concerning the merits of the petition.
    Paragraph S4 of FMVSS No. 108 defines ``replaceable bulb headlamp'' 
as one that is comprised of a bonded lens and reflector assembly.
    During the period of August 1991 to December 1993, Mercedes 
produced approximately 46,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles for sale in the 
United States in which the lenses were securely clipped onto their 
reflectors as an assembly, but not bonded as required by FMVSS No. 108. 
These vehicles included approximately 35,925 S-Class, 7,379 E-Class, 
and 2,632 C-Class models. In addition, approximately 1,873 noncompliant 
replacement part headlamps and approximately 1,147 noncompliant 
replacement part headlamp lenses were sold to Mercedes-Benz 
dealerships.
    Mercedes supports its petition for inconsequential noncompliance 
with the following:

1. Damaged Lenses Will Be Replaced With Complying Headlamp 
Assemblies

    Based on the number of replacement lenses sold in Model Years 
1991-92, (Mercedes) estimates that approximately 500 lenses are 
replaced each year in the subject vehicles.
    Thus, the number of vehicles involved is relatively low.
    Effective November 2, 1993, (Mercedes) no longer sells lenses as 
a replacement part. This means that no source for replacement lenses 
now exists. Therefore, when lenses are damaged in the future, the 
owner's only recourse will be to replace the entire headlamp 
assembly that complies with Standard 108.
    In the unlikely event that a noncomplying aftermarket lens 
market were developed for the 46,000 vehicles produced, their use 
would be restricted by state inspection laws. At the present time, 
approximately two-thirds of all states have periodic inspection 
programs. As evidenced by * * * state vehicle regulations (which 
Mercedes included with its petition and are contained in the 
Docket), replacement headlamp lenses are required to keep the 
headlamp in compliance with Standard 108. It is our understanding 
that State Inspection garages routinely reject cars if their 
headlamp lenses do not bear the ``DOT'' marking, since the lack of 
``DOT'' quickly identifies the headlamp as a non-U.S. unit. 
Therefore, in the unlikely event that a vehicle owner replaces a 
damaged lens with a noncomplying aftermarket lens rather than a 
complying headlamp assembly, the vehicle will fail inspection in 
most states.

2. Headlamp Aim Not Affected

    In a recently published Federal Register notice (Docket 93-57) 
requesting comments on the subject of bonded versus unbonded 
headlamps, NHTSA stated:
    In previous denials of petitions to allow removable headlamp 
lenses, NHTSA argued that mechanical aiming of lamps with lens-
mounted aiming pads could be affected by any change of the alignment 
relationship established between lenses and reflectors at the time 
of manufacture. Thus, alteration of the original alignment during 
lens replacement could misaim the beam. (58 FR. 42,924 (August 12, 
1993.)
    This concern is not relevant here because the vehicles in 
question contain on-board aiming devices (vehicle headlamp aiming 
devices). No aiming pads are needed in such advanced technology. 
Since the lens does not participate in the aiming of the headlamp, 
aiming cannot be affected by misalignment of the lens during lens 
replacement in the Mercedes system.

3. Headlamp Beam Formation Not Affected

    In the same Federal Register notice, NHTSA expressed concern 
that replacement lenses may alter the headlamp beam formation due to 
the fluting (prescription) of the lens. Several factors assure 
photometric compliance with Standard 108 for the Mercedes-Benz 
unbonded headlamp. First, in the headlamp manufacturing process, the 
headlamp is designed so that the lens can be clipped onto any 
housing/reflector assembly and be assured of meeting the photometric 
performance requirements of Standard 108 * * * [T]he design permits 
only a positive and secure attachment. There are no shims or 
adjustments that could influence the lens mounting. Second, from a 
design point of view, the physical size of the reflector and lens 
make the headlamp highly insensitive to minute positioning 
variations in mounting and/or manufacture.

4. Vehicle Maintenance

    All affected vehicles are within the time constraints of the 
warranty period. Thus, within the next 12 months, [Mercedes] will be 
able to remedy the noncompliance when the subject vehicles are 
brought in for service. [Mercedes] will direct dealers to bond the 
headlamps of all noncomplying vehicles brought to authorized dealers 
for service.

5. Conclusion

    In view of the fact that the headlamps comply with all 
performance aspects of Standards 108, that the replacement lenses 
are no longer available from (Mercedes) or its dealers, and that the 
vehicles will be remedied shortly through routine warranty 
maintenance, there is no adverse impact on safety. Therefore, 
[Mercedes believes that] NHTSA should grant [its] petition for an 
exemption for and inconsequential noncompliance with Standard 108.
    Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and 
arguments on the petition of Mercedes, described above.
    Comments should refer to the docket number and be submitted to: 
Docket Section, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, room 
5109, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. It is requested 
but not required that six copies be submitted.
    All comments received before the close of business on the closing 
date indicated below will be considered. The application and supporting 
materials, and all comments received after the closing date, will also 
be filed and will be considered to the extent possible. When the 
petition is granted or denied, the notice will be published in the 
Federal Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.
    Comment closing date: March 14, 1994.

    Authority: (15 U.S.C. 1417; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50 and 49 CFR 501.8.

    Issued on February 7, 1994.
Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 94-3188 Filed 2-10-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-M



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