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Ford Motor Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Topics:  Ford F-Series

Ford Motor Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
28 December 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 249 (Wednesday, December 28, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 95731-95733]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-31405]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0116; Notice 1]


Ford Motor Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Ford Motor Company (Ford), has determined that certain model 
year (MY) 2015-2017 Ford F-150 and Ford F-Super Duty pickup trucks do 
not fully comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 
202a, Head Restraints. Ford filed a noncompliance information report 
dated October 18, 2016. Ford also petitioned NHTSA on November 17, 
2016, for a decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential 
as it relates to motor vehicle safety.

DATES: The closing date for comments on the petition is January 27, 
2017.

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 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 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 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 dockets. 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).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Overview

    Ford Motor Company (Ford), has determined that certain model year 
(MY) 2015-2017 Ford F-150 and Ford F-Super Duty pickup trucks do not 
fully comply with paragraph S4.2.2 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
Standard (FMVSS) No. 202a, Head Restraints. Ford filed a noncompliance 
information report dated October 18, 2016, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, 
Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. Ford also 
petitioned NHTSA on November 17, 2016, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) 
and 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, 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.
    This notice of receipt of Ford'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

    Approximately 274,321 MY 2015-2017 Ford F-150 and MY 2017 Ford

[[Page 95732]]

F-Super Duty pickup trucks manufactured between March 12, 2014 and 
September 28, 2016, are potentially involved. The affected vehicles are 
those equipped with a 4-way adjustable driver and front passenger seat 
head restraint and a front row center seating position (referred to as 
a ``40/20/40 front seat'').

III. Noncompliance

    Ford explains that the noncompliance is that the driver and front 
passenger seat head restraints in the subject vehicles do not meet the 
minimum width requirements of paragraph S4.2.2 of FMVSS No. 202a. The 
head restraints have, on average, a width of 239 mm, which is below the 
254 mm minimum width required by the standard.

IV. Rule Text

    Paragraph S4.2.2 of FMVSS No. 202a states:

    S4.2.2 Width. When measured in accordance with S5.2.2 of this 
section, 65  3 mm below the top of the head restraint, 
the lateral width of a head restraint must be not less than 170 mm, 
except the lateral width of the head restraint for front outboard 
designated seating positions in a vehicle with a front center 
designated seating position, must be no less than 254mm . . .

V. Summary of Ford's Petition

    Ford described the subject noncompliance and stated its belief that 
the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle 
safety.
    In support of its petition, Ford submitted the following reasoning:
    1. Identical bucket seat and head restraint design provides the 
intended level of protection: The outboard front bucket seats (cushion, 
back, head restraint) are identical for trucks built with or without a 
front row center designated seating position (dsp). In fact, it is 
possible to remove the seats from a subject truck and swap them with 
the seats from a truck built without a front center dsp. The center 
area between the two outboard front bucket seats can be configured with 
a fold down storage console/dsp, center storage console, or nothing. 
The outboard bucket seats are the same, regardless of the selected 
center option.
    a. Review of preamble discussions (FMVSS No. 202a rulemaking) finds 
that the main reason for retaining the 254 mm width requirement was 
concern that ``occupants seated on bench seats are freer than occupants 
of single seats to position themselves so that they are not directly in 
front of the head restraint, and a bench head restraint needs to be 
wider to assure that the head restraint will be behind the occupant in 
event of a crash.'' (72 FR 25514)
    b. Review of preamble discussions finds that the main reason for 
retaining the 170 mm width requirement, and not increasing to 254 mm, 
for ``bucket seats'' is ``. . . front outboard non-bench seats have a 
defined contour that, in addition to belt use, better prescribe 
occupant seating position relative to the head restraint. Therefore, 
the front non-bench head restraints can be narrower than the front 
bench seat head restraints.'' (69 FR 74848)
    c. Conclusion: The seat utilized in the subject vehicles are not 
``bench seats'' in the traditional sense of providing a single seating 
surface that spans the width of the vehicle. All of the characteristics 
citied by the Agency in supporting the basis for narrower head 
restraints for bucket seat vehicles are present in the outboard seats 
of the subject trucks because the outboard bucket seats are identical 
regardless of how the center area between the seats is configured. The 
ability for an occupant to position or mis-position themselves in the 
outboard seat is the same for trucks with or without the center dsp 
because the seat contours and seat belt anchorage locations are the 
same. The seats are identical and interchangeable but the head 
restraint width requirement is different. Ford is not advocating that a 
narrower head restraint width requirement should apply. Rather, Ford 
believes that the safety risk the agency sought to address by retaining 
a wider width requirement for seats with a front center dsp is simply 
not present in the subject bucket seats because of its contoured 
design. Regardless how the front center area between the seats is 
configured, Ford believes that the subject head restraints in the 
outboard front bucket seats provide the intended level of protection.
    2. Seating reference point measurements demonstrate head restraints 
provide required width protection and intended level of safety:
    a. Ford evaluated head restraint width protection using seating 
reference point measurements (SgRP). In promulgating FMVSS No. 202a, 
the Agency proposed to ``maintain the existing width requirements.'' In 
responding to comments to harmonize the requirements with ECE 17, the 
agency stated that, ``The 254 mm width requirement for these head 
restraints on bench seats has been in effect since January 1, 1969.'' 
(69 FR 74848). Ford believes that this clearly shows that the agency 
intended to retain the width requirement as-is in the upgraded 
standard.
    b. In retaining the width requirements, the measurement procedure 
was revised from ``when measured either 64 mm below the top of the head 
restraint or 635 mm above the seating reference point'' to ``when 
measured 65  3 mm below the top of the head restraint.''
    c. Ford believes that the position of the occupant's head is 
determined by their seating position, not by the head restraint. In 
this case, Ford believes that measuring the head restraint width from 
the SgRP demonstrates that the subject head restraints provide the 
intended level of safety. Measuring from the top of the head restraint 
actually varies the location of the width requirement based on the head 
restraint design, and is not necessarily based on the position of the 
occupant's head. Below is a table providing data illustrating how the 
height of a head restraint affects the location at which the width 
requirement applies, further it shows how this is different under the 
original FMVSS No. 202 standard.

     Table 1--Comparison of Head Restraint With Measurement Location
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Height at width      Height at width
                                 measurement--FMVSS   measurement--FMVSS
  Top of head restraint  (mm)     No. 202  (635 mm     No. 202a  (65 mm
                                    above SgRP)           below top)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
700 (FMVSS No. 202)...........  635                  635
750 (FMVSS No. 202a)..........  635                  685
800 (FMVSS No. 202a)..........  635                  735
850...........................  635                  785
------------------------------------------------------------------------


[[Page 95733]]

    d. The height of the adjustable head restraint in the subject 
trucks ranges from a minimum of 802 mm up to 851 mm, exceeding the 
height requirements of FMVSS No. 202a by 50 mm.
    e. While the agency argued that the existing requirements should 
not be changed because they meet the need for motor vehicle safety, in 
the preambles for the FMVSS No. 202a upgrade, no rationale was provided 
for excluding the option of measuring up from the SgRP or how this 
option did not meet the need for motor vehicle safety.
    f. Conclusion: In the subject trucks, the outboard dsp head 
restraint width exceeds the requirement when the width is measured 635 
mm above the SgRP. This method is based on the occupant seated height 
and is consistent for all seats and head restraints, and demonstrates 
that the subject head restraints provide occupants with the intended 
level of safety.
    3. Exemplar measurements demonstrate that the subject head 
restraints provide required width protection and intended level of 
safety for all occupants:
    a. Ford evaluated head restraint width protection for occupants 
using a SAEJ826 package manikin. The measured width of the head 
restraint at the initial point of contact between the head restraint 
and the head of the manikin is 257 mm. The height at this location is 
636 mm above the seating reference point (SgRP).
    b. Based on a survey of 15 trucks the highest point on the head 
restraint that meets the 254 mm width requirement ranged from 674 mm to 
721 mm above the SgRP with the head restraint in the full down 
position. Ford provides the required width across a wide section of the 
head restraint. Adjusting the head restraint up (up to 50 mm of 
vertical adjustment is available) further increases the range at which 
Ford provides the required width. This range of coverage includes 
occupants as tall and taller than the 95th percentile American male.
    c. Conclusion: The subject trucks provide the required width and 
intended level of safety for all occupants including, and taller than, 
the 95th percentile American male.
    4. Vehicle performance testing demonstrates head restraints provide 
intended level of safety:
    a. Another alternative method for evaluating seat performance is 
testing. The Ford F-150 meets or exceeds all other FMVSS No. 202a 
requirements and was rated ``Good'' by the Insurance Institute for 
Highway Safety based on dynamic whiplash testing. Based on testing, 
Ford believes that its head restraints are indeed providing the 
intended level of safety to occupants.
    Ford stated that it has made changes in production to increase the 
width of the head restraints.
    Ford concluded by expressing the belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, 
and that its petition 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 
this petition only applies to the subject vehicles that Ford 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 or delivery for introduction into interstate 
commerce of the noncompliant vehicles under their control after Ford 
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.

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2016-31405 Filed 12-27-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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