[Federal Register: July 10, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 132)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 45821-45883]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr10jy02-20]                         


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Part III





Department of Transportation





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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration



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49 CFR Part 573 et al.



Reporting of Information and Documents About Potential Defects 
Retention of Records That Could Indicate Defects; Final Rule


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 573, 574, 576, 579

[Docket No. NHTSA 2001-8677; Notice 3]
RIN 2127-AI25

 
Reporting of Information and Documents About Potential Defects 
Retention of Records That Could Indicate Defects

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This document adopts a regulation that will implement the 
early warning reporting provisions of the Transportation Recall 
Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act. Under this 
rule, motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment manufacturers will be 
required to report information and to submit documents about customer 
satisfaction campaigns and other activities and events that may assist 
NHTSA to promptly identify defects related to motor vehicle safety.
    We are also adopting amendments to NHTSA's general and tire 
recordkeeping regulations to assure that manufacturers retain relevant 
information.
    The final rule also moves certain existing provisions of NHTSA's 
regulations to other parts of the Code of Federal Regulations.

DATES: Effective Date: The effective date of this final rule is August 
9, 2002. Applicability Dates: Various provisions of this final rule are 
applicable on the dates stated in the regulatory text. See 49 CFR 
579.28. Petitions for Reconsideration: Petitions for reconsideration of 
the final rule must be received not later than August 26, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Petitions for reconsideration of the final rule should refer 
to the docket and notice number set forth above and be submitted to 
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, with a copy to Docket 
Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For non-legal issues, contact Jonathan 
White, Office of Defects Investigation, NHTSA (phone: 202-366-5226). 
For legal issues, contact Taylor Vinson, Office of Chief Counsel, NHTSA 
(phone: 202-366-5263).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Summary of the Final Rule
II. Background: The TREAD Act (Public Law 106-414)
III. Manufacturers That Will Be Covered by the New Reporting 
Requirements
    A. Scope of the term ``manufacturer''
    1. Proposed requirements for reporting about events in foreign 
countries
    2. Assertion that extending the definition of ``manufacturer'' 
to include subsidiaries and affiliates exceeds our statutory 
authority
    3. Nexus to the motor vehicle industry
    4. Duplicate reporting
    5. Suggestion to require a ``control relationship'' between 
manufacturers and covered subsidiaries and affiliates
    6. Proposed application to outside legal counsel
    7. Constructive notice of information received by agents
    B. Manufacturers of motor vehicles
    C. Manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment
    1. Original equipment
    2. Replacement equipment
    3. Tires
    4. Definition of ``equipment''
IV. Information That Must Be Reported
    A. Production information
    B. Definition of ``claim''
    C. Definition of ``notice''
    D. Identification of the product in claims and notices
    E. Claims and notices involving death
    1. Whether to define death
    2. Claims involving death
    3. Notices involving death
    4. Information about deaths
    F. Claims and notices involving injuries
    1. The definition of ``injury''
    2. Reporting of incidents in which persons were injured, based 
on claims and notices
    G. Other possible conditions on reporting of claims and notices 
for death and injury
    H. Identical or substantially similar motor vehicles or 
equipment
    1. Substantially similar motor vehicles
    2. Substantially similar motor vehicle equipment other than 
tires
    3. Substantially similar tires
    I. Claims involving property damage
    1. Definition of ``property damage''
    2. Reports of property damage claims; whether to establish 
dollar-value thresholds
    J. Consumer complaints
    1. Definition of ``consumer complaint''
    2. The rationale for requiring reports of consumer complaints
    K. Warranty claims information
    1. Definitions of ``warranty,'' ``warranty claim,'' and 
``warranty adjustment''
    2. Reports involving warranty claims
    L. Field reports
    1. Definition of ``field report''
    2. Reporting and submission of field reports
    M. Customer satisfaction campaigns, consumer advisories; 
recalls, or other activities involving the repair or replacement of 
motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment
    N. Components and systems covered by reports
    O. Updating of information
    P. One-time reporting of historical information
V. When Information Must be Reported
    A. Periodically
    B. Upon NHTSA's request
    C. One-time historical report
VI. The Manner and Form in Which Information Will be Reported
VII. How NHTSA Plans to Handle and Utilize Early Warning Information
    A. Review and use of information
    B. Information in the possession of the manufacturer
    C. The requirements are not unduly burdensome
    D. Periodic Review
VIII. Extension of Recordkeeping Requirements to Include 
Manufacturers of Child Restraint Systems and Tires
IX. Administrative Amendments to 49 CFR Part 573 to Accommodate 
Final Rules
    Implementing 49 U.S.C. Sections 30166(l) and (m)
X. Rulemaking Analyses

I. Summary of the Final Rule

    In our notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (66 FR 66190), we 
proposed to divide manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle 
equipment into two groups with different responsibilities for reporting 
information that could indicate the existence of potential safety-
related defects. There was no opposition to this approach, and we are 
adopting it.
    The first group consists of larger manufacturers of motor vehicles, 
and all manufacturers of child restraint systems and tires. In general, 
the larger vehicle manufacturers must report separately on four 
categories of vehicles (if they produced, imported, offered for sale, 
or sold 500 or more of a category annually in the United States): light 
vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles and all buses, trailers, and 
motorcycles.
     Deaths. These manufacturers must report certain specified 
information about each incident involving a death that occurred in the 
United States that is identified in a claim (as defined) against and 
received by the manufacturer. They must also report information about 
incidents involving a death in the United States that is identified in 
a notice received by the manufacturer alleging or proving that the 
death was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's product. 
Finally, they must report on each death occurring in foreign countries 
that is identified in a claim against the manufacturer involving the 
manufacturer's product, or one that is identical or substantially 
similar to a product that the manufacturer has offered for sale in the 
United States.

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     Injuries. These manufacturers must report certain 
specified information about each incident involving an injury that 
occurred in the United States that is identified in a claim against and 
received by the manufacturer, or that is identified in a notice 
received by the manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the 
injury was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's product.
     Property damage. These manufacturers (other than child 
restraint system manufacturers) must report the numbers of claims for 
property damage that occurred in the United States that are related to 
alleged problems with certain specified components and systems, 
regardless of the amount of such claims.
     Consumer complaints. These manufacturers (other than tire 
manufacturers) must report the numbers of consumer complaints they 
receive that are related to problems with certain specified components 
and systems that occurred in the United States. Manufacturers of child 
restraint systems must report the combined number of such consumer 
complaints and warranty claims, as discussed below.
     Warranty claims information. These manufacturers must 
report the number of warranty claims (adjustments for tire 
manufacturers), including extended warranty and good will, they receive 
that are related to problems with certain specified components and 
systems that occurred in the United States. As noted above, 
manufacturers of child restraint systems must combine these with the 
number of reportable consumer complaints.
     Field reports. These manufacturers (other than tire 
manufacturers) must report the total number of field reports they 
receive from the manufacturer's employees, representatives, and 
dealers, and from fleets, that are related to problems with certain 
specified components and systems that occurred in the United States. In 
addition, manufacturers must provide copies of certain field reports 
received from their employees, representatives, and fleets, but are not 
required to provide copies of reports received from dealers.
     Production. These manufacturers must report the number of 
vehicles, child restraint systems, and tires, by make, model, and model 
year, during the reporting period and the prior nine model years (prior 
four years for child restraint systems and tires).
    These manufacturers must separately report the numbers identified 
above for each model and model year, as the rule defines it (ten years 
for vehicles and five years for tires and child restraint systems).
    A manufacturer or brand name owner of tires will not have to report 
any information other than information relating to incidents involving 
deaths for limited production tires and other tires exempted from the 
Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards pursuant to 49 CFR 
575.104(c)(1). In addition, tire manufacturers need only report 
incidents involving deaths for tires other than passenger car tires, 
light truck tires, or motorcycle tires. (Manufacturers should note 
these exclusions in reviewing the reporting requirements under this 
rule, as we may not repeat it in all instances in which it may apply).
    The second group of manufacturers consists of all other 
manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, i.e., 
vehicle manufacturers insofar as they produced, imported, or sold in 
the United States fewer than 500 light vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles 
(including buses), motorcycles, or trailers annually, manufacturers of 
original motor vehicle equipment and manufacturers of replacement motor 
vehicle equipment other than child restraint systems and tires. These 
manufacturers must report the same information about incidents 
involving deaths as the first category, but are not required to report 
any other information.
    In addition, all vehicle and equipment manufacturers in both groups 
must provide copies of all documents sent or made available to more 
than one dealer, distributor, owner, purchaser, lessor or lessee, in 
the United States with respect to customer satisfaction campaigns, 
consumer advisories, recalls, or other activities involving the repair 
or replacement of vehicles or equipment.
    Reports must be submitted electronically, in specified formats. The 
components and systems on which reporting is required will vary, 
depending on the type of product involved. Documents such as consumer 
advisories must be submitted electronically or in hard copy.
    With respect to the information required to be submitted under this 
rule, there will be four reporting periods each calendar year of three 
months each. The first such report will cover the second calendar 
quarter of 2003. Reports, including copies of field reports, will be 
due not later than 30 days after the end of a calendar quarter, except 
for the final three calendar quarters of 2003, when we are allowing a 
period of 60 days after the end of the calendar quarter. Documents 
other than field reports that are required to be submitted under this 
final rule (those documents currently required under 49 CFR 573.8), 
will be due not later than 5 working days after the end of the month in 
which they are generated by the manufacturer, beginning with April 
2003.
    To help NHTSA identify trends that could indicate potential safety 
problems, manufacturers will be required, on a one-time basis, to 
report the number of warranty claims or adjustments and the number of 
field reports for each calendar quarter during the three-year period 
from April 1, 2000 through March 31, 2003, the date preceding the 
beginning of the first reporting period that is established by the 
final rule, April 1, 2003. Submission of copies of field reports is not 
required under this one-time provision.
    The early warning reporting requirements will comprise Subpart C of 
a new 49 CFR Part 579. Following final rulemaking, the foreign defect 
reporting requirements proposed on October 11, 2001 (66 FR 51907) will 
comprise Subpart B of Part 579. This rule adopts a Subpart A containing 
general requirements that will apply to both Subparts B and C, except 
where otherwise stated.
    We are also adopting amendments that extend the recordkeeping 
requirements of 49 CFR Part 576 to child restraint system and tire 
manufacturers:
     These manufacturers will now be required to maintain the 
same types of records that manufacturers of vehicles have been required 
to keep under 49 CFR Part 576.
     Manufacturers of tires will also be required to retain for 
five years records of purchasers of tires they manufacture. 
Manufacturers of motor vehicles will be required to retain for five 
years records of tires on each vehicle manufactured and the purchaser 
of each vehicle. Currently, 49 CFR Part 574 requires that these records 
be retained for three years.
    In addition, the record retention requirements have been expanded 
to require all manufacturers to retain, for five years, the underlying 
records on which the information they provide NHTSA under the early 
warning rule is based. (For manufacturers of equipment other than tires 
and child restraint systems, this is limited to records related to 
incidents referred to in claims and notices involving deaths.)
    The early warning final rule, the final rule pertaining to foreign 
defect campaigns, and current 49 CFR 573.8 will be codified in 49 CFR 
Part 579 (2002). Part 573 is being amended to include the provisions of 
current Part 579 (2001) with respect to defect and noncompliance 
responsibility. These are

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reflected in amendments to the scope, purpose, and definitions of Part 
573, and the addition of the substantive requirements of existing 
Section 579.5 as a new Section 573.5.
    The final rule is effective August 9, 2002. The first quarterly 
reporting period for early warning information begins on April 1, 2003. 
Quarterly reports for calendar 2003 will not be due until two months 
following the end of the quarter, (e.g., the first quarterly report 
will be due on August 31, 2003). Thereafter, beginning with the first 
quarter of calendar 2004, information is due 30 days following the end 
of the reporting period. The one-time report of historical information 
will be due September 30, 2003, approximately 90 days following the end 
of the first reporting period. The documents that are required to be 
submitted on a monthly basis will be due five days after the end of the 
month in which they are generated, beginning with April 2003.

II. Background: The TREAD Act (Public Law 106-414)

    The Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and 
Documentation (TREAD) Act was enacted on November 1, 2000, Public Law 
106-414.
    The TREAD Act amends 49 U.S.C. 30166 to add a new subsection (m), 
Early warning reporting requirements. This subsection provides for 
NHTSA to require manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle 
equipment to submit information, periodically or upon NHTSA's request, 
that includes claims for deaths and serious injuries, property damage 
data, communications to customers and others, information on incidents 
resulting in fatalities or serious injuries from possible defects in 
vehicles or equipment in the United States or in identical or 
substantially similar vehicles or equipment in a foreign country, and 
other information that may assist NHTSA in identifying potential 
safety-related defects.
    Sections 30166(m)(3), (4), and (5) address, respectively, the 
elements to be reported, the handling and utilization of reported 
information, and periodic review and update of the final rule.
    The crux of the early warning provisions is Section 30166(m)(3), 
which states:

    (3) Reporting elements.
    (A) Warranty and claims data. As part of the final rule * * * 
the Secretary [of Transportation] shall require manufacturers of 
motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to report, periodically 
or upon request by the Secretary, information which is received by 
the manufacturer derived from foreign and domestic sources to the 
extent that such information may assist in the identification of 
defects related to motor vehicle safety in motor vehicles and motor 
vehicle equipment in the United States and which concerns--
    (i) data on claims submitted to the manufacturer for serious 
injuries (including death) and aggregate statistical data on 
property damage from alleged defects in a motor vehicle or in motor 
vehicle equipment; or
    (ii) customer satisfaction campaigns, consumer advisories, 
recalls, or other activity involving the repair or replacement of 
motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment.
    (B) Other data. As part of the final rule * * *, the Secretary 
may, to the extent that such information may assist in the 
identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety in motor 
vehicles and motor vehicle equipment in the United States, require 
manufacturers of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment to 
report, periodically or upon request of the Secretary, such 
information as the Secretary may request.
    (C) Reporting of possible defects. The manufacturer of a motor 
vehicle or motor vehicle equipment shall report to the Secretary, in 
such manner as the Secretary establishes by regulation, all 
incidents of which the manufacturer receives actual notice which 
involve fatalities or serious injuries which are alleged or proven 
to have been caused by a possible defect in such manufacturer's 
motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in the United States, or in 
a foreign country when the possible defect is in a motor vehicle or 
motor vehicle equipment that is identical or substantially similar 
to a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment offered for sale in 
the United States.

    The Secretary has delegated to the NHTSA Administrator the 
authority to carry out 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 (49 CFR 1.50(a)).
    On January 22, 2001, we issued an advance notice of proposed 
rulemaking (ANPRM) to discuss and to solicit comments on the ways in 
which NHTSA may best implement these statutory provisions (66 FR 6532). 
After considering the many comments provided in response to the ANPRM, 
we followed this with a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), published 
on December 21, 2001 (66 FR 66190).
    On October 11, 2001, we issued a separate NPRM that would implement 
another provision of the TREAD Act, adding Section 30166(l) to Title 49 
(66 FR 51907). Subsection (l) also applies to manufacturers of motor 
vehicles and motor vehicle equipment; it requires them to notify us of 
safety recalls and other safety campaigns that they conduct outside the 
United States, or are ordered by a foreign government to conduct 
abroad, on vehicles and equipment identical or substantially similar to 
those sold in the United States. The December 21, 2001 early warning 
rule NPRM stated that the definitions proposed in Subpart A of that 
NPRM would apply to the rule regarding notification of foreign safety 
campaigns.
    In response to the NPRM on the early warning rule, we received 
comments from a variety of sources. Motor vehicle manufacturers and 
associated trade organizations who commented were Ford Motor Company 
(Ford), the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA), the Association of 
International Automobile Manufacturers, Inc. (AIAM), the Recreational 
Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Harley-Davidson Motor Company 
(Harley-Davidson), Nissan North America, Inc. (Nissan), Volkswagen of 
America, Inc. (for itself, Volkswagen AG and Audi AG) (Volkswagen), 
American Honda Motor Company (Honda), the Motorcycle Industry Council 
(MIC), Blue Bird Body Company (Blue Bird), General Motors Corporation 
(GM), Gillig Corporation (Gillig), Spartan Motors Chassis, Inc. 
(Spartan), Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (Porsche), Fleetwood 
Enterprises, Inc., (Fleetwood), Utilimaster Corporation (Utilimaster), 
and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (the Alliance). The tire 
industry was represented by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). 
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) represented the 
child restraint system industry. Other motor vehicle equipment 
manufacturers and associated trade organizations who commented were the 
American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), Johnson Controls (Johnson), 
the Waste Equipment Technology Association (Wastec), the Specialty 
Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the National Truck Equipment 
Association (NTEA), the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association 
(MEMA) for itself and the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, the 
National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Delphi Automotive 
Systems, LLC (Delphi), Webb Wheel Products, Inc. (Webb), and Bendix 
Commercial Vehicle Systems, LLC (Bendix). We also received comments 
from Public Citizen (PC), Consumers Union (CU), and a number of 
individuals concerned about a reference in the NPRM to motorcycle 
apparel.
    These comments have provided us with numerous insights in 
developing this final rule. This completes the first phase of our early 
warning rulemaking. Consistent with Section 30166(m)(5), we will 
periodically review the final rule and consider possible amendments.

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III. Manufacturers That Will Be Covered by the New Reporting 
Requirements

A. Scope of the Term ``manufacturer''

    The proposed rule dealt primarily with the information that would 
be provided to NHTSA. Most of the information to be provided involved 
activities and events related to motor vehicle safety in vehicles and 
equipment in the United States; some information would be required with 
regard to some claims related to deaths in foreign countries involving 
motor vehicles or equipment that are identical or ``substantially 
similar'' to vehicles or equipment that are sold in the United States.
    The NPRM addressed who was obligated to provide the information 
required under the proposed rule. We recognized that the information 
identified in the proposed rule could be maintained within various sub-
entities of a multinational corporation. To assure that we received the 
information and to preclude non-reporting on the basis that the 
information was held by an entity not covered by the regulation, we 
proposed to define the covered entity--the manufacturer--inclusively to 
include corporate parents, subsidiaries and affiliates. Under this 
formulation, the information identified in the proposed rule would have 
to be submitted to NHTSA regardless of where it was maintained in a 
multinational corporation with numerous subsidiaries. At the same time, 
as a practical matter, we wrote the reporting obligations such that 
they would most likely be carried out by the entity that has 
traditionally reported to NHTSA.
    In particular, in the NPRM, at Section 579.3(a) (``Application''), 
we stated ``This part applies to all manufacturers of motor vehicles 
and motor vehicle equipment with respect to all vehicles and equipment 
that have been offered for sale, sold, or leased by the manufacturer, 
any parent corporation of the manufacturer, any subsidiary or affiliate 
of the manufacturer, or any subsidiary or affiliate of any parent 
corporation of the manufacturer.'' In subsection (b), we stated that 
``[i]n the case of any report required under this part, compliance by 
either the fabricating manufacturer or the importer of the motor 
vehicle or motor vehicle equipment shall be considered compliance by 
both.'' \1\
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    \1\ The text of proposed subsection (b) directly parallels the 
existing Code of Federal Regulations provision that governs the 
responsibilities of fabricating manufacturers and importers with 
respect to the filing of reports informing NHTSA of defective and 
noncompliant motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment and of the 
progress of recall campaigns. See 49 CFR 573.3(b).
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    Further, at proposed Section 579.4, we stated that the term 
``manufacturer'' is used as defined in 49 U.S.C. 30102; however, for 
purposes of Part 579, it also ``includes any parent corporation of the 
manufacturer, any subsidiary or affiliate of the manufacturer, any 
subsidiary or affiliate of any parent corporation of the manufacturer, 
and any legal counsel retained by the manufacturer.''
    In the NPRM, we stated that the TREAD Act expanded manufacturers' 
responsibilities with respect to foreign events and activities and thus 
has extraterritorial effect. As we noted, in its comments on the ANPRM, 
the Alliance recognized that the TREAD Act was clearly written by 
Congress to apply to persons and activities outside the United States, 
and that the rule could reasonably require reports from foreign 
companies manufacturing vehicles for sale in the United States as long 
as the reports related to issues that could arise in those vehicles. 
Under the NPRM, foreign entities would be required to provide the same 
information as we would require for domestic manufacturers, but only 
with respect to vehicles and equipment that they sell in the United 
States and to incidents involving death outside the United States that 
involve identical or substantially similar motor vehicles or equipment. 
See 66 FR at 66193-66194. We explained that, in view of both the 
definition of manufacturer and the specific provisions of Section 
30166(m), we believed that the agency has authority to require a report 
from the entity that maintains the information, from the fabricating 
manufacturer, and from the importer of the vehicle or equipment, but 
that we were proposing to require reporting only by either the 
fabricating manufacturer or by the importer, because this was 
consistent with current reporting under 49 CFR Part 573 and with our 
recent proposals for reporting of safety recalls and other safety 
campaigns in foreign countries, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30166(l). See 66 
FR at 66193-66194. And we observed that a multinational corporation 
must adopt practices to ensure that all relevant information on matters 
for which reports are required is made available to that corporation's 
designated reporting entity, so that the designated entity timely 
provides the information to NHTSA. We stated that a multinational 
corporation would be violating the law if it designated its U.S. 
importer as its reporting entity but failed to assure that the importer 
was provided with the information required to be reported. See id. at 
66194.
    In addition, in the preamble to the NPRM, at Section III.D, we 
explained that we proposed to deem information (such as claims-related 
information) that is initially received by representatives of the 
manufacturer (such as their registered agents and outside counsel) to 
be in the possession of the manufacturer, and thus to require each 
manufacturer to ensure that entities it has the ability to control 
furnish it with the information covered by this rule so that the 
manufacturer may make a full and timely report to NHTSA. However, we 
also stated explicitly that we were not proposing to require such 
representatives to report directly to NHTSA. See 66 FR at 66194.
    Many manufacturers and trade associations commented on various 
aspects of the scope of ``manufacturer,'' particularly with respect to 
subsidiaries and affiliates (including law firms). These commenters 
included AIAM, the Alliance, Delphi, Ford, GM, Harley-Davidson, Honda, 
Bendix, MEMA, Nissan, RMA, TMA, Volkswagen, and Webb. Ford, GM, Nissan, 
and Volkswagen also stated that they supported the Alliance's comments; 
Honda also stated that it supported AIAM's comments. The comments are 
discussed by issue, below.
1. Proposed Requirements for Reporting About Events in Foreign 
Countries
    Foreign manufacturers that manufacture vehicles or equipment for 
sale in the United States have long been subject to the reach of the 
American legal and regulatory system. They are subject to the 
requirement that they certify that all their vehicles or equipment 
imported into the United States comply with applicable Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards. 49 U.S.C. 30115. They are subject to recall 
provisions. 49 U.S.C. 30117-120. They have been required to provide to 
NHTSA copies of all notices, bulletins, and other communications to 
more than one U.S. distributor, dealer, or purchaser regarding defects. 
49 U.S.C. 30166(f) and 49 CFR 573.8. They are subject to record keeping 
and reporting provisions. 49 U.S.C. 30166 and 49 CFR Part 576. The 
Vehicle Safety Act requires such manufacturers to appoint agents for 
the service of process in actions involving this agency (49 U.S.C. 
30164; see 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(5)(A)). Both foreign and domestic 
manufacturers also appoint registered agents for the service of 
judicial process in general; these may be, but are not

[[Page 45826]]

required to be, the same agents who register with NHTSA. Furthermore, 
foreign manufacturers that have U.S. subsidiaries do not rely 
exclusively on their American subsidiaries to conduct business before 
this agency. Rather, both Asian and European manufacturers have 
routinely participated in meetings at NHTSA headquarters in defects 
investigations, and even appear in litigation involving this agency.
    As acknowledged by the Alliance in its comments on the ANPRM, the 
TREAD Act was clearly intended by the Congress to apply 
extraterritorially. The Alliance stated that this creates a ``whole new 
body of law and potential regulation'' in the area of gathering and 
reporting of information from persons overseas on their overseas 
activities.
    In the NPRM, we focused primarily on information involving events 
or activities in the United States and to a lesser degree on certain 
foreign claims involving vehicles and equipment that are identical or 
substantially similar to those sold in the United States. As noted 
above, we proposed, at Section 579.3(a) and Section 579.4(a), to adopt 
a single, broad definition of manufacturer to assure that we received 
this information, be it in the possession of a domestic or foreign 
component of the manufacturer.
    Several commenters, including the Alliance, Nissan, VW, and AIAM, 
objected to the breadth of our proposed definition of manufacturer. The 
Alliance and Nissan asserted that the proposed definition impermissibly 
failed to articulate a nexus between the covered manufacturers and the 
United States, and that in the absence of such a nexus, the proposed 
definition amounted to an attempt to assert extraterritorial 
jurisdiction in violation of international law. VW stated that NHTSA 
appeared to have recognized in the preamble to the NPRM that reporting 
obligations must be limited to foreign entities that manufacture 
vehicles or equipment for export to the U.S. (citing 66 FR 66193), but 
that NHTSA had failed to incorporate this recognition into the proposed 
regulatory text.
    In our opinion, the proposed regulations were based upon and 
incorporated an adequate nexus to the United States. In addition to 
addressing events and acts in the United States, consistent with the 
TREAD Act, we required the submission of relatively limited information 
about claims for deaths in foreign motor vehicles that are 
``substantially similar'' to vehicles that are sold in the United 
States. The substantial similarity of those foreign vehicles to their 
American counterparts creates a sufficient nexus to the United States.
    As we indicated in the preamble to the NPRM (see 66 FR at 66193), 
we dealt with the nexus issue in the provisions governing the substance 
of the reports, rather than in the definition or ``application'' 
sections. However, to put this matter to rest, in response to the 
comments from the Alliance and others, we have decided to modify 
proposed Section 579.3(a), Application, by inserting, after the word 
``leased,'' the phrase ``in the United States'' and by inserting, at 
the very end, with respect to vehicles and equipment offered for sale, 
sold or leased in foreign countries, the phrase ``substantially similar 
to any motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment that have been offered 
for sale, sold, or leased in the United States.'' This will not make a 
substantive change in what we proposed.
    We note further that we did not receive any comments on this aspect 
of the NPRM from any other branch or office of the U.S. government or 
from any foreign government.
    2. Assertion that extending the definition of ``manufacturer'' to 
include subsidiaries and affiliates exceeds our statutory authority
    Some commenters challenged the breadth of coverage of proposed 
Sections 579.3(a) and 579.4(a) based on the assertion that we lack 
statutory authority to include subsidiaries and affiliates within the 
definition of ``manufacturer.'' They contended that our proposal to do 
so violates congressional intent to limit the early warning 
requirements to those entities that fall within the literal Safety Act 
definition of the term--a person manufacturing or assembling vehicles 
or equipment, or importing same for resale (49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(5)(A), 
(B)). This position was presented in the abstract, without any 
presentation of where the parent companies' headquarters, importing and 
exporting subsidiaries, and assembly operation subsidiaries are 
located, and without any showing whether or how, under their view of 
the proper definition of manufacturer, NHTSA would be assured of 
receiving information specifically covered by section 3 of the TREAD 
Act; e.g., information on foreign safety recalls and other foreign 
safety campaigns and information on incidents in foreign countries 
involving fatalities alleged or proven to be caused by a possible 
defect in a motor vehicle that is identical or substantially similar to 
one offered for sale in the United States. See 49 U.S.C. 
30166(l),(m)(3)(C). Implicit in their view was that, if information on 
foreign recalls, foreign deaths, or other TREAD Act categories was in 
the possession of a subsidiary that was not a manufacturer, assembler, 
or importer for resale, as referred to above, there would be no legal 
obligation to report such TREAD Act-related information to NHTSA.
    We disagree with this assertion. Our proposal to include the parent 
and subsidiaries and affiliates within the term ``manufacturer'' was 
derived from our authority to implement 49 U.S.C. 30166(l) and (m). 
These sections invest NHTSA with substantive rulemaking authority and 
require that we exercise it. One element of this authority to issue 
substantive rules is the ability to construe the statute. This includes 
interpreting statutory provisions, such as the definition of 
``manufacturer.'' Moreover, our interpretation is entirely consistent 
with congressional intent. The manifest intent was that NHTSA have the 
information to assist in promptly identifying safety-related defects. 
In contrast, under the industry commenters' position, multinational 
companies would not have to report foreign recall and early warning 
information if it was not held by entities that fit squarely into their 
definition of manufacturer--the assembler or the importer for resale. 
This is inconsistent with the TREAD Act.
    The TREAD Act was enacted in the context of substantial numbers of 
deaths that occurred in the United States after defect-related deaths 
had occurred in South America and the Middle East. The multinational 
corporations that made and sold the vehicle (Ford Explorer) and 
equipment (Firestone tires) were aware of assertions that their 
products had caused these deaths and had conducted safety campaigns in 
foreign countries. They had not informed NHTSA of these matters and 
NHTSA was not aware of them until after it opened a formal defect 
investigation in the spring of 2000. Congress sought to correct this 
reporting deficiency, among other things.
    Congress was aware that the vehicle and tire industries are 
comprised of multinational corporations, most of which have their 
principal place of business abroad, with numerous operations and 
subsidiaries around the world. With increased globalization and efforts 
to lower labor costs, this includes assembly operations in numerous 
countries. Of the larger light vehicle manufacturers, only two (GM and 
Ford) are based domestically, and they have numerous international 
subsidiaries. The remainder, including Honda, Nissan, Toyota, 
Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler AG, and BMW, are

[[Page 45827]]

headquartered abroad, with one or more U.S. subsidiaries.\2\ Similarly, 
the major tire producers are multinational corporations. Bridgestone/
Firestone and Michelin are headquartered abroad, with U.S. and other 
subsidiaries.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ For example, Toyota Motor Corporation is the Japanese 
parent. Its U.S. sales arm is Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. Its 
public relations are under Toyota Motor North America, Inc. Toyota 
Motor Manufacturing, North America, Inc. oversees manufacturing 
companies in North America. Toyota Camrys and Avalons are assembled 
by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. Toyota pickup trucks 
are assembled by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. Toyota 
Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. in Ontario assembles Corollas, which 
are imported. Toyota's agent is Toyota Technical Center, U.S.A., 
Inc., which also submits certificates of conformity under the Clean 
Air Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Safety-related information could be maintained in a variety of 
locations by a variety of corporate parents and subsidiaries. For 
example, consider a recall in Venezuela conducted by a multinational 
corporation based in Europe of vehicles that are substantially similar 
to those that are assembled by a subsidiary in Mexico and imported by a 
U.S. subsidiary. Information on that foreign recall ordinarily would 
not have been directed to these assembling and importing subsidiaries. 
To interpret the legislation as applying only to assemblers and 
importers would be to eviscerate the TREAD Act, as it would amount to 
acceptance of non-reporting. In enacting the TREAD Act, Congress did 
not differentiate based on corporate structure and location. Congress 
likewise did not expect us to do so.
    Moreover, while the TREAD legislation was being formulated, Jacques 
Nasser, then the CEO of Ford and as the representative of the 
automobile industry, agreed that the industry would notify NHTSA of 
recalls in foreign countries involving vehicles sold in the United 
States. S. Rep. No. 106-423 at 2-3. Also, the Alliance member companies 
(BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Isuzu, Mazda, 
Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo) sent a 
letter to NHTSA in which they committed to report to NHTSA their safety 
recalls and other safety campaigns that are conducted in a foreign 
country on a vehicle or component part that is also offered for sale in 
the United States. They did not limit this commitment to recalls and 
campaigns documented in the hands of corporate entities that are 
assemblers of the products or U.S.-based subsidiaries that are 
importers. In light of Mr. Nasser's statement and the Alliance members' 
commitment, which did not suggest a narrow meaning of the word 
manufacturer, there was no need for the Congress to more expressly 
legislate NHTSA's authority.
    The commenters' views are even narrower than, and not consistent 
with, the definition of manufacturer in Section 30102(a)(5). Under that 
section manufacturer means a person--(A) manufacturing or assembling 
motor vehicles or equipment or (B) importing them for resale. To give 
meaning to all words, particularly the word manufacturing, manufacturer 
must be broader than mere assemblers and importers. The term 
manufacturer includes an enterprise. See American Heritage Dictionary 
(4th ed.)(manufacturer is ``a person, an enterprise, or an entity that 
manufactures something.''). This is consistent with our longstanding 
interpretation of the Vehicle Safety Act, which, in the course of 
numerous amendments, Congress has not rejected. For example, under 49 
U.S.C. 30115, a ``manufacturer'' must certify that the vehicle complies 
with standards. Under our implementing regulations, the term 
manufacturer covers more than the assembler or importer. Under 49 CFR 
567.4(g)(1)(i), for example, if a vehicle is assembled by a corporation 
that is controlled by another corporation that assumes responsibility 
for conformity with the standards, the name of the controlling 
corporation may be used as the manufacturer, even though it is not the 
assembler. See NHTSA interpretation of October 13, 1981 regarding 
PACCAR. This would allow, for example, parent Volkswagen of Germany to 
certify vehicles made by a Mexican subsidiary and imported into the 
U.S., DaimlerChrysler AG of Germany to certify M Class sport utility 
vehicles (SUVs) assembled by a subsidiary in Alabama, and Isuzu Motors 
Ltd. (of Japan) to certify Isuzu Rodeos assembled in Indiana. The 
commenters' position on the meaning of manufacturer is inconsistent 
with 49 CFR 567.4(g)(1)(i).
    The enterprise view of a manufacturer is consistent with recent 
case law. See Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft v. Olson, 21 S.W. 3d 707; 
2000 Tex. App. LEXIS 3985 (2000), cert. den. sub nom. DaimlerChrysler 
v. Olson, --S.Ct.--, 70 U.S.L.W. 3707 (2002) (rejecting allegation by 
Daimler-Benz that the court lacked jurisdiction over it because it is a 
German corporation not doing business in Texas, and stating that 
``[o]ur review of this evidence shows Daimler-Benz as a company devoted 
to selling its cars worldwide. To achieve this goal, Daimler-Benz has 
established subsidiaries in important markets around the globe * * *'' 
21 S.W.3d at 722-723).
    Also, our approach to requiring information from multinational 
organizations is consistent with case law in which in a multinational 
corporate context, foreign parent, subsidiary and affiliate 
corporations of a party corporation have been required to provide 
information in litigation. E.g., In re Richardson-Merrell, Inc. 
(Bendectin Product Liability Litigation), 97 F.R.D. 481 (S.D. Ohio 
1983) (compelling discovery from multinational drug manufacturer's 
domestic and foreign subsidiaries). Courts have applied a broad, 
multifaceted view of control sufficient to compel responses to 
discovery. For example, courts have held that subsidiary and affiliate 
corporations responsible for the sale of products in the United States 
have sufficient control over their parent's documents in order to be 
compelled to produce them. See, Cooper Industries, Inc. v. British 
Aerospace, Inc., 102 F.R.D. 918 (S.D. N.Y. 1984) (ordering defendant 
that distributed and serviced airplanes in the U.S. and was a wholly 
owned corporate affiliate of plane manufacturer British Aerospace 
Public Limited Co. to produce documents believed to be in its British 
affiliate's files); Afros S.p.A. v. Krauss-Maffei Corp., 113 F.R.D. 127 
(D. Del. 1986) (ordering subsidiary to produce German parent 
corporation's documents where subsidiary was a wholly owned sales arm 
of parent and operating as exclusive seller of parent's products in the 
U.S.); Ferber v. Sharp Electronics Corp., 1984 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24861, 
*8, 40 Fed. R. Serv. 2d 950 (S.D.N.Y. 1984) (requiring wholly owned 
subsidiary of Japanese corporation that acted as parent's U.S. 
distributor and seller with respect to calculators that allegedly 
infringed patent to produce information held by parent); In re Uranium 
Antitrust Litigation, 480 F. Supp. 1138, 1153 (N.D. Ill. 1979) (party 
not required to have actual managerial power over the foreign 
corporation, but rather that there be a close coordination between 
them); see also, Camden Iron and Metal, Inc. v. Marubeni America Corp., 
138 F.R.D. 438 (D.N.J. 1991) (requiring U.S. based subsidiary 
corporation to produce Japanese parent's documents where parent had 
participated in negotiations over contract which became subject of 
present litigation) citing, Gerling Int'l Ins Co. v. Commissioner of 
Internal Revenue, 839 F.2d 131 (3d Cir. 1988); Uniden America Corp. v. 
Ericsson Inc., 181 F.R.D. 302, 307 (M.D. N.C. 1998) (ordering party 
corporation to produce responsive records of sister, non-party 
corporation where companies were owned by same parent, which had

[[Page 45828]]

power over them, shared information regularly, and sister corporation 
had provided party corporation documents to assist in present 
litigation); Alimenta v. Anheuser-Busch Co., 99 F.R.D. 309, 313 (N.D. 
Ga. 1983) (sister corporations acted Aas one'' in transaction); 
Soletanche and Rodio, Inc. v. Brown & Lambrecht Earth Movers, Inc., 99 
F.R.D. 269, 272 (N.D. Ill. 1983) (requiring production of foreign 
parent's documents in patent infringement case where French, non-party, 
corporate parent had potential benefit in wholly owned, American 
subsidiary's winning offensive litigation); First Nat'l City Bank v. 
I.R.S., 271 F.2d 616, 618 (2d Cir. 1959) (upholding subpoena requiring 
New York City bank to produce records located in its office in Panama).
    Finally, our approach to requiring a multinational corporate 
enterprise to provide reports is consistent with the current regulatory 
practice of some agencies regarding reporting on foreign and domestic 
safety-related matters by multinational corporations. See, e.g., Food 
and Drug Administration (FDA) rules regarding post-marketing reporting 
of adverse events following FDA approval (21 CFR 314.80) and reporting 
adverse events associated with investigational new drugs awaiting FDA 
approval (21 CFR 312.32); EPA Office of Pesticide Programs, PRN 98-3 
(www.epa.gov/opppmsd1/PR Notices/index).
    To make our conclusions clear, we are defining ``manufacturer'' in 
Section 579.4(c), where other terms used in the early warning rule are 
defined.
3. Nexus to the Motor Vehicle Industry
    Another frequent comment was that the proposal to include 
subsidiaries and affiliates lacked the required nexus to the automotive 
industry. The Alliance asserted that the proposal would impose 
reporting requirements on unrelated subsidiaries (such as insurance 
providers, financing providers, or car rental companies) as well as on 
companies that have established limited business relationships with 
each other. GM stated that it was unnecessary and unduly burdensome to 
require reporting by some 1,000 unrelated subsidiary corporations that 
apparently would be required to report consumer complaints or notices 
of deaths or injuries if reported to an employee. Nissan characterized 
the proposed inclusion of subsidiaries and affiliates as arbitrary and 
capricious, and commented that the proposal would likely trigger 
undesirable reporting requirements that were unintended by Congress.
    We believe that the industry commenters have exaggerated the 
burdens that the proposed reporting rule would place on them, their 
subsidiaries, and their affiliates. We did not propose to require a 
vehicle manufacturer to search the records of its automobile-financing 
subsidiary for information responsive to the early warning 
requirements. Also, we did not propose to require reporting by such 
entities. However, if a vehicle manufacturer decided for any reason to 
move the location where it receives or stores relevant vehicle safety-
related records, including its information management system, to such a 
subsidiary or affiliate, then the early warning rule would require a 
search of that subsidiary's or affiliate's records.
    Thus, Honda Power Equipment Manufacturing, Inc., which makes lawn 
mowers and related equipment, would not have to search its records or 
report, even though it is a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., 
Inc. General Motors Corporation would not have to search the records of 
General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) if the manufacturer in the 
usual course of business does not keep early warning information in the 
files of the automobile-financing subsidiary. However, if GM decided to 
change its current practice and store relevant safety information in 
the files of GMAC, GM would be required to search that subsidiary's 
records when preparing its early warning reports.
    To further clarify matters, we have decided to add a new Section 
579.3(c), which specifies that, in obtaining the information to be 
submitted under the early warning rule, manufacturers, including 
parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates, need only review information and 
systems where information responsive to Subpart C of Part 579 is kept 
in the usual course of business. This clarification, which incorporates 
language from Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, will 
eliminate questions of unintended and unnecessary burdens of reporting 
on affiliates and subsidiaries that are not involved in the areas for 
which reporting is required.
4. Duplicate Reporting
    A number of commenters complained that the proposed rule would 
likely result in duplicate reporting of the same events by more than 
one entity and thus and cause the early warning information we receive 
to be inaccurate. As we made clear in the NPRM, duplicate reporting was 
not required. We proposed to allow reporting by either fabricating 
manufacturers or importers, so long as the multinational corporation 
assures the reporting entity is provided with information in sufficient 
time for the reporting entity to submit it NHTSA in a timely manner. 
See 66 FR at 66194 and proposed 49 CFR Section 579.3(b). ``In the case 
of any report required under this part, compliance by either the 
fabricating manufacturer or the importer of the motor vehicle or motor 
vehicle equipment shall be considered compliance by both.'' We thought 
that this provision would eliminate duplicate reporting from separate 
elements of a multinational corporation.
    The comments did not discuss this provision directly, but instead, 
addressed the subject of duplicate reporting more generally. 
Nevertheless, we have considered this provision further in light of 
those comments. We believe that there was considerable flexibility 
under the proposed rule. We address situations involving complex 
structures and multinational corporations below, to explain that 
duplicate reporting is not required and to provide guidance on allowed 
reporting mechanisms.
    Some situations involve joint ventures and production agreements. 
In a joint venture, two manufacturers of motor vehicles establish a 
separate corporation whose products each of the manufacturers sells 
under its own brand name. In the production agreement, one manufacturer 
agrees to produce vehicles for another under the second manufacturer's 
brand name. An example of a joint venture is New United Motor 
Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), owned jointly by GM and Toyota, which 
produced the Toyota Corolla and the Geo Prizm. Examples of production 
agreements are those between Ford and Nissan in which Ford produced the 
Nissan Quest as well as the Mercury Villager, and between Isuzu and 
Honda, under which Isuzu produced the Isuzu Rodeo as well as the Honda 
Passport. A term used for a vehicle such as the Passport is a ``re-
badged vehicle.'' In either case, the agency's certification regulation 
requires NUMMI and Ford or Isuzu, as the ``actual assembler of the 
vehicle,'' to certify compliance of the vehicles they fabricate, even 
if sold by another company. See 49 CFR 567.4(g)(1).
    As indicated in the Alliance's comment, NUMMI is strictly a 
fabricator, with no sales outlets or repair facilities of its own. 
Instead, its products are sold through Toyota and Chevrolet 
dealerships. The Alliance feared that the proposed rule might oblige 
Toyota to report on claims and complaints received by GM about GM 
vehicles, and GM to report on those received by Toyota about Toyota 
vehicles. Such duplicate reporting is not required

[[Page 45829]]

under the rule. Reports may be submitted by Toyota as to Toyotas, and 
GM as to Chevrolets or Geos. Alternatively, Toyota, GM, or NUMMI may 
report as to all such vehicles.
    The situation is similar with respect to vehicles manufactured 
under production agreements. For example, assume that Isuzu received 
consumer complaints about a brake problem in Rodeo vehicles and Honda 
received complaints about the problem in Passport vehicles. Both Isuzu 
and Honda may report to us the information that they possess about the 
vehicles under their own brand names, or the assembler (Isuzu) may 
report fully for both companies. Honda is not excused from reporting 
the complaint and other relevant information in its information systems 
about the Passport on the theory that Honda is not the assembler or 
importer of the vehicles.
    Although the likelihood is that the brand name owners, rather than 
the fabricator (if other than a brand name owner), will receive 
consumer contacts about these vehicles, and that the tire brand name 
owner will be contacted rather than the tire fabricator, we have 
decided to add a provision to Section 579.3(b), similar to Section 
573.3(b), that permits an election between the fabricator and the brand 
name owner with respect to early warning reporting for vehicles and 
equipment. We are adding a definition of ``brand name owner'' to the 
Terminology section of the rule, to mean ``a person that markets a 
motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment under its own trade name 
whether or not it is the fabricator or importer of the vehicle.'' (This 
is similar to the definition of ``new tire brand name owner'' in 49 CFR 
574.3(c)(3)). If the fabricator is the reporting entity, it must 
identify each company that is a brand name owner covered by the report 
(see new Section 579.28(h)), and every identified company must provide 
its information to the fabricator in a sufficiently timely fashion to 
permit the reporting company to file timely and accurate reports. The 
obverse is also true; i.e., if a brand name owner is reporting for 
itself, it must identify each fabricating manufacturer covered by the 
report.
    Another scenario involves a situation where the domestic subsidiary 
of a foreign corporation assembles a vehicle that also is assembled 
abroad and imported. For example, in some years, Toyota manufactured 
some Corolla vehicles in Japan that it exported to the United States 
and an American subsidiary manufactured other Corollas in the United 
States. Under our rule, due to the parent-subsidiary relationship, each 
company may report early warning information to us separately without 
duplication, or one or the other may report on behalf of both (we would 
prefer a combined report, regardless of which entity actually submits 
it).
    The next such situation involves foreign subsidiaries of U.S. 
corporations that manufacture vehicles that are sold in the U.S. For 
example, GM owns Saab of Sweden. Ford owns Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, 
and Aston Martin. This rule does not regulate corporate structure, and 
it does not matter whether the U.S. importer of these brands is a 
subsidiary of the foreign corporation or of the U.S. parent (or some 
other entity). We understand that consumer contacts about U.S. 
activities and events involving these vehicles are reported to 
addressees in the United States, whereas communications about foreign 
events involving the same or substantially similar vehicles are sent to 
addressees abroad. We had assumed that ordinarily the domestic parent 
or domestic subsidiary or subsidiaries (separate ones for, e.g., Volvo 
and Jaguar) would have the records about the domestic activities and 
events and would report to us about both the domestic and the foreign 
events after having obtained relevant information from the records 
maintained by the foreign entity. We are not requiring duplicate 
reports and are not requiring separate reports from the foreign 
entities, either limited to the foreign events, or including both 
foreign and domestic events. Moreover, the time may come when brands 
such as these are assembled by new subsidiaries in foreign countries, 
which would add another entity to the mix. We have decided to permit an 
election for parents and subsidiaries, similar to that proposed for 
fabricators and importers in proposed Section 579.3, and subject to the 
same provisos with respect to timeliness and completeness of reporting.
    Finally, we consider foreign vehicles that are not exported to the 
U.S. but that are substantially similar to vehicles sold in the U.S. 
For example, Ford of the U.K. and Vauxhall Motor Co. Ltd. (owned by GM) 
\3\ manufacture cars for the U.K. market. Although at present, these 
cars generally are not exported to the U.S., some of the U.K. models 
are substantially similar to domestic models (our decision with respect 
to defining ``substantially similar'' is discussed below). Assume, for 
example, the first-generation Mondeo, which was manufactured and sold 
in the U.K., is substantially similar to the Ford Contour and Mercury 
Mystique, which recently were sold in the U.S. Likewise, assume that 
the U.K. Vauxhall Omega and the German Opel Omega are substantially 
similar to the Cadillac Catera, which GM previously sold in the U.S. 
The assembler is a foreign company. Information about the Mondeo in the 
files of Ford of the U.K., and information about the Omega in the files 
of Vauxhall or Opel, is likely in Europe. There is no importer of the 
vehicle into the U.S. Nonetheless, we would allow Ford (U.S.) \4\ and 
GM (U.S.) to obtain and report information about covered claims for 
deaths in the Mondeo or the Omega from the files in the U.K. or 
Germany. If there were such full reporting, we would not want duplicate 
reporting by a foreign company. To address this scenario, we will allow 
reporting of claims involving deaths in foreign countries by either the 
fabricating manufacturer, the importer, the brand name owner, or a 
parent or United States subsidiary of such fabricator, importer or 
brand name owner of the motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, and 
that shall be considered compliance by all persons. Thus, Section 
579.3(b) will read as follows:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ The GM website (www.gm.com) under ``contact us'' refers in 
its pull down menu to Vauxhalls, as well as Holdens (manufactured in 
Australia) and Saabs.
    \4\ Ford's website (www.ford.com) reflects its world wide 
operations. It has a link that states ``find your local website from 
over 120 countries.''

    (b) In the case of any report required under subpart C of this 
part, compliance by the fabricating manufacturer, the importer, the 
brand name owner, or a parent or United States subsidiary of such 
fabricator, importer, or brand name owner of the motor vehicle or 
motor vehicle equipment shall be considered compliance by all 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
persons.

    We believe that the modifications we are announcing today with 
respect to the definition of manufacturer will resolve any other 
potential problems related to duplicate reporting and will facilitate 
reporting in a manner that avoids duplicate reporting.
5. Suggestion to Require a ``control relationship'' Between 
Manufacturers and Covered Subsidiaries and Affiliates
    Several commenters (including the Alliance, Nissan, Honda, Bendix, 
and MEMA) suggested that it was not appropriate to impose reporting 
requirements on corporate affiliates or impute to manufacturer 
information in the possession of affiliates over whom the manufacturer 
does not have a controlling interest. More constructively, Harley-
Davidson stated that it would strive to accumulate early

[[Page 45830]]

warning reporting information from companies it does not control and 
would report such information if it learned of it, but might not be 
able to compel it from such entities.
    The manufacturers did not provide concrete examples. Multinational 
vehicle manufacturers, in general, own all or substantial parts of 
vehicle manufacturing, importing, and sales subsidiaries. For example, 
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Japan) owns one hundred percent of Nissan North 
America, Inc. Honda Motor Co., Ltd. owns American Honda Motor Co., 
Inc., a subsidiary of which, Honda of America Mfg., Inc., assembles 
Hondas in Marysville, Ohio. Volkswagen AG owns VW of America. 
DaimlerChrysler AG owns DaimlerChrysler Corp. (manufacturer of 
Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles), Mercedes-Benz USA, Inc. (importer 
of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, formerly known as Mercedes-Benz of 
North America, Inc.), and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. 
(assembler of M Class SUVs in Alabama). However, there are other 
situations where there is partial ownership. For example, Ford owns a 
substantial portion of Mazda Motor Corp. and DaimlerChrysler A.G. of 
Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
    MEMA proposed a ``bright line test'' in which reporting 
requirements would be imposed only in situations in which the 
manufacturer has an equity ownership of at least 50 percent in the 
affiliate or subsidiary. MEMA did not state the basis for its proposed 
``50% ownership'' test. We do not see any reason to adopt a ``50% 
ownership'' test in the context of early warning reporting. It is 
entirely possible to for one entity effectively to control another with 
an ownership share of far less than 50 percent. It is too difficult to 
generalize as to the percentage of ownership that is required for the 
ability to control. Moreover, there may be multiple corporations above 
one another in a hierarchy and the multinational corporation may not be 
structured in a strictly vertical mode; there may be horizontal 
relationships. The concept of control is adequately addressed by the 
terms we used. For example, a parent corporation is defined in Black's 
Law Dictionary ``as a corporation that has a controlling interest in 
another corporation.'' A subsidiary corporation is defined as a 
``corporation in which the parent corporation has a controlling 
share.'' Ibid. An affiliate of or person affiliated with a specified 
person means a person that directly, or indirectly through one or more 
intermediates, controls or is controlled by, or is under common control 
with, the person specified. Ordinarily, the persons are corporations. 
Securities and Exchange Commission regulation 17 CFR 230.405; see also, 
17 CFR 240.10b-18(a)(1). We have adopted this definition.
    To the extent that further interpretation of these matters is 
needed, we will address them in the context of concrete facts in the 
exercise of program administration and discretion.
    As indicated earlier in this preamble, we have decided to permit 
joint venture manufacturers, rebadging manufacturers, and others to 
elect a reporter. As a practical matter, this flexible approach will 
enable reporting requirements to be met without resolution of control 
issues. Based on our experience with reporting of noncompliances and 
defects under section 573.3, we believe that this approach is workable.
6. Proposed Application to Outside Legal Counsel
    We proposed in the NPRM to include within the term manufacturer 
``any legal counsel retained by the manufacturer.'' See proposed 
Section 579.4(a). However, we did not propose to require reporting by 
outside counsel to manufacturers. See 66 FR 66194.
    Our proposal to include legal counsel in the definition resulted 
primarily from our perception that certain ``minimum specificity'' 
information that is a precondition to reporting claims for death or 
injury may not be found in manufacturers' information systems. Initial 
claims may be very limited in detail, and it is possible that claims 
will not be ``perfected'' until outside counsel have become involved. 
To report, manufacturers will need information necessary to satisfy our 
``minimum specificity'' requirement, such as the model year of the 
vehicle involved in a claim. Manufacturers may need to obtain this 
factual information from their outside counsel after those counsel 
receive that information.
    The provision of this type of fundamental information would not 
violate the attorney-client privilege or present other ethical dilemmas 
to outside counsel. We are seeking only basic factual allegations.
    Many commenters objected to our proposal to include retained legal 
counsel in the definition of manufacturer, and none supported it. The 
negative commenters included the Alliance, Nissan, Ford, GM, AIAM, 
Webb, Harley-Davidson, and RMA. Essentially, they asserted that 
inclusion of legal counsel in the definition was unnecessary because, 
in virtually all cases, basic relevant information known to outside 
counsel was made known to them by the manufacturer that retained them; 
that it would be unduly burdensome for outside counsel to be required 
to search their records periodically for such information; and that the 
requirement to divulge such information might pose ethical problems or 
conflicts of interest for lawyers or otherwise violate proscriptions 
against divulging privileged information or require disclosure of 
attorney's work product. Specifically, Nissan observed that, if the 
agency is concerned about abuse of claims of privilege, it could deal 
with this potential problem by cautioning against improper privilege 
claims rather than by redefining the term ``manufacturer.'' Ford 
requested that the term manufacturer be modified to exclude documents 
contained in litigation files.
    We do not agree that the proposal would impose the sorts of burdens 
referred to by the commenters. However, to clarify the matter, we are 
adding a sentence to Section 579.28(d) to specify that in situations 
involving a claim for death or injury where the manufacturer does not 
possess all the information required for ``minimum specificity,'' and 
the matter is being handled by outside counsel, the manufacturer must 
attempt to obtain the missing information from the outside counsel. In 
light of this adjustment, we are eliminating outside counsel from the 
definition of manufacturer contained in Section 579.4(c). Where the 
corporate manufacturer has the information, which the Alliance claims 
is virtually always the case, there will be no obligation to inquire 
and no burden. In view of this modification, we believe that it is 
unnecessary to address separately the concerns raised by Nissan and 
Ford.
7. Constructive Notice of Information Received by Agents
    In the preamble to the NPRM, we stated that we proposed to deem 
information that is received initially by representatives of 
manufacturers (such as their registered agents and outside counsel) to 
be information in the constructive possession of the manufacturer, and 
to require each manufacturer to ensure that entities it has the ability 
to control furnish it with relevant early warning information so that 
the manufacturer could make a complete and timely report to NHTSA. We 
also stated that we did not propose to require the representatives to 
report directly to NHTSA. See 66 FR 66194; see also id. at 66213--
66214. However, while we addressed this subject in the

[[Page 45831]]

preamble, it did not appear in the proposed regulatory text.
    Many commenters challenged our statements regarding constructive 
possession, arguing that we lack statutory authority to interpret the 
term ``possession'' in 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(4)(B) and claiming that they 
cannot require entities that they do not control to provide them with 
information. We disagree. As discussed above, by virtue of our 
authority to conduct substantive rulemaking to implement the early 
warning reporting requirements, we are empowered to interpret statutory 
terms and promulgate a rule containing our interpretation.
    The Vehicle Safety Act itself provides at Section 30164 for foreign 
manufacturers to appoint agents for the service of notices and process 
in administrative and judicial proceedings, and specifically states 
that ``service on the agent is deemed to be service on the 
manufacturer.'' Id. at 30164(b). Likewise, a common requirement under 
state law is the appointment of registered agents, and corporations are 
deemed to be served upon service on the registered agent. Therefore, we 
have concluded that, as in Section 30164(b), it is appropriate to 
impute the information contained in such claims to the manufacturer who 
is served via the appointed agent. Accordingly, in this final rule, we 
are adding a specification (Section 579.28(e)) stating that receipt of 
a claim by an agent of a manufacturer registered under State law or 
designated under the Vehicle Safety Act by a manufacturer offering 
vehicles or equipment for import shall be deemed received by the 
manufacturer. However, upon further consideration, we have concluded 
that it is not necessary to refer to the concept of constructive 
possession in the terminology or application sections of this rule. The 
provisions of this rule that require reporting of information in the 
possession of manufacturers and their subsidiaries, parents, and 
affiliates with respect to vehicles and equipment that they offer for 
sale in the United States and foreign vehicles or equipment that are 
substantially similar to such vehicles or equipment will suffice to 
ensure that we receive relevant early warning information from 
appropriate sources.

B. Manufacturers of Motor Vehicles

    The TREAD Act provides for the agency to require manufacturers of 
motor vehicles \5\ to submit information that may assist in the 
identification of safety-related defects. We must decide which 
manufacturers of motor vehicles would be required to submit reports 
under this rule, and whether different reporting requirements should 
apply to various categories of manufacturers. Section 30166(m)(3) does 
not exempt any manufacturer of motor vehicles from its coverage. On the 
other hand, it provides substantial discretion to the agency. The word 
``may'' is used at several points in the statute. In addition, the 
agency's ability to use the information submitted is a statutory 
concern.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ The term ``motor vehicle'' is a broad one. The statutory 
definition of ``motor vehicle'' (49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(6)) has been the 
subject of numerous interpretations since 1966.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One of the threshold questions in this rulemaking is whether the 
agency should exercise its discretion to defer the imposition of some 
or all potential early warning reporting requirements on some classes 
of manufacturers. The early warning regulation will be a new 
regulation, and inevitably the agency and regulated entities will face 
some issues in implementing it. It would be counterproductive to 
require the submission of more information than we could beneficially 
review or to impose impracticable requirements, particularly on small 
manufacturers. We have concluded that we should phase in the early 
warning reporting requirements and that, for the most part, it would be 
appropriate to focus first on larger volume manufacturers and on 
information regarding incidents and activities in the United States, as 
contrasted to those occurring in foreign countries.
    Vehicles produced in small quantities have a smaller overall impact 
upon safety than large production vehicles, as we have frequently noted 
in providing temporary exemptions from one of more of the Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards under 49 U.S.C. 30113. Although we would not 
expect the volume of reports from any individual small volume 
manufacturer to be overwhelming if we were to require comprehensive 
reporting by smaller manufacturers, there would be some burden on them. 
More important, our interactions with, and review of submissions by, 
the large number of small manufacturers would divert the agency's 
resources from reports submitted by high volume manufacturers involving 
potential safety defects that could affect a far greater number of 
vehicles and thus have a greater impact on safety.
    The final rule excludes from most of the reporting requirements any 
vehicle manufacturer that manufactures for sale, offers for sale, 
imports, or sells, in the United States, fewer than 500 vehicles of 
each specified category in the year of the reporting period and in each 
of the two calendar years preceding the reporting period. This 
exclusion will apply to most manufacturers of multistage vehicles and 
alterers since the vast majority of them manufacture or sell fewer than 
500 vehicles annually.
    We are also excluding registered importers (RIs) of vehicles not 
originally manufactured to comply with Federal motor vehicle safety 
standards from most of the reporting requirements. RIs ordinarily would 
not have information that would be useful because most import limited 
numbers of vehicles, most of which are manufactured by companies who 
generally report to us, and the owners of most of these vehicles 
probably would not report problems to the RI.
    However, these small-volume manufacturers and RIs are not exempt 
from the requirements, addressed below, to report to us certain 
specified information regarding incidents involving death(s) occurring 
in the United States that are identified in claims against and received 
by the manufacturer or that are identified in notices sent to the 
manufacturer where the notice alleges or proves that a death was caused 
by a possible defect in the manufacturer's vehicle, together with 
information on deaths occurring in foreign countries that are 
identified in claims against the manufacturer involving a vehicle that 
is identical or substantially similar to a vehicle that the 
manufacturer has offered for sale in the United States. With respect to 
all such reported deaths, all manufacturers will have to provide 
certain information regarding the underlying incident, as described in 
greater detail below. All manufacturers will also have to provide 
copies of documents related to customer satisfaction campaigns, 
consumer advisories, recalls, and other safety activities under new 
Section 579.5. As discussed in Section III.A.4 above, duplicate 
reporting is not required. The commenters on the NPRM did not object to 
the concept of limited reporting by small-volume vehicle manufacturers.
    For those motor vehicle manufacturers that are not excluded from 
full reporting based on low levels of sales in the United States, we 
are establishing separate reporting requirements based on the category 
of vehicle produced. We proposed five categories of vehicles: light 
vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles, buses, motorcycles, and trailers. In 
the final rule, we are adopting four; the final rule combines the 
proposed categories of

[[Page 45832]]

medium-heavy vehicles and buses into one category. Each category has 
components and systems that distinguish it from the other three 
categories, and which may develop safety-related problems unique to 
that category. Therefore, we shall require different information 
regarding each category of vehicle, which will help to reduce the 
burdensomeness of the rule.
    Under the rule, a light vehicle is any motor vehicle, except a bus, 
trailer, or motorcycle, with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 
10,000 lbs. or less. Medium-heavy vehicles include trucks and 
multipurpose passenger vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 lbs., and buses 
regardless of GVWR (including school buses). Trailers are separately 
categorized regardless of GVWR. Motorcycles include any two- or three-
wheeled vehicle meeting the definition of motorcycle in 49 CFR 
571.3(b).
    We asked for comments on whether an annual aggregate production, 
importation, or sales of 500 vehicles in the United States is an 
appropriate figure upon which to base this distinction, whether a 
manufacturer's eligibility for these lesser reporting requirements 
should be determined based upon its production in the two calendar 
years preceding the report or whether a shorter, longer, or different 
period would be appropriate, and whether small-volume vehicle 
manufacturers should be required to provide other data and information 
in addition to that relating to deaths.
    RVIA commented that recreational vehicle (RV) manufacturers should 
be exempt from all early warning reporting, or, at most, only those 
requirements that are adopted for manufacturers of fewer than 500 motor 
vehicles. NTEA, Gillig, and WASTEC commented that the threshold should 
be 10,000 vehicles per year, the same as that governing eligibility to 
apply for temporary exemptions under Part 555 on grounds that 
compliance would cause substantial economic hardship, which they did 
not demonstrate, or, alternatively, 2,500 vehicles per year, the same 
as that governing eligibility to apply under Part 555 for other kinds 
of temporary exemptions. The rationale for these suggestions is that 
many companies producing multi-stage trucks and RVs in quantities 
greater than 500 are nevertheless ``small businesses'' by the criteria 
of the Small Business Administration (SBA) (13 CFR 121.201 (2000)).
    We have considered these comments and have concluded that the 500 
units is an appropriate demarcation point between larger and smaller 
manufacturers. We recognize that some manufacturers of more than 500 
vehicles will be ``small businesses'' under the SBA criteria. However, 
that does not in itself provide a basis for exempting them from the 
more comprehensive reporting requirements. We have conducted 
investigations into alleged defects in products manufactured by 
relatively small businesses that have led to safety recalls and we 
believe that it is appropriate to obtain full early warning information 
from companies producing 500 or more vehicles. If experience shows that 
we do not get valuable information from relatively small vehicle 
manufacturers, we can and will adjust the threshold in the future.
    We also received comments on our proposed five categories of 
vehicles. Utilimaster commented that it, like other delivery van 
producers, manufactures vehicles in both the over and under 10,000 lb. 
GVWR categories. It commented that ``commercial delivery vans under 
10,000 lbs. GVWR have little in common with cars, sport utility 
vehicles and pickup trucks,'' and should not be in the same reporting 
category as these vehicles. It believed that if the final rule is 
adopted as proposed, it would be difficult to try to conform the 
company's internal records systems and reporting obligations to the 
discrete systems and component codes and differences in parts specified 
in the light and medium-heavy reporting categories. It argued that 
``there should be only one set of failure codes and related numerical 
reporting.''
    The use of GVWR to delineate the applicability of requirements 
adopted by NHTSA, other Federal agencies, and state governments is a 
common practice that has stood the test of time. In any event, the 
coding of systems and components and related numerical reporting for 
light and medium-heavy vehicles are very similar, as is discussed 
below. In our view, this similarity will avoid, or at least minimize, 
any problems that companies such as Utilimaster might have had.
    RVIA also argued that reporting should be limited to the chassis 
portion of a RV and exclude living quarters. We disagree. If we adopted 
such a limitation, fires that arose in the living quarters would not be 
reported. We note that the Vehicle Safety Act provides that ``motor 
vehicle safety'' includes ``nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.'' 
49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(8).

C. Manufacturers of Motor Vehicle Equipment

    The TREAD Act also provides for the agency to require manufacturers 
of motor vehicle equipment to submit early warning reporting 
information that may assist in the identification of safety-related 
defects. ``Motor vehicle equipment'' is defined in 49 U.S.C. 
30102(a)(7), and consists of ``original equipment'' (OE) and 
``replacement equipment.'' These two terms are currently defined in 49 
CFR 579.4. We are not changing the definitions, but we are simplifying 
the previous language in new Section 579.4(c) to make it more readable.
1. Original Equipment
    There are approximately 10,000 to 14,000 individual items of OE in 
a contemporary passenger car. Some are fabricated by the vehicle 
manufacturer, some by independent parts manufacturers, and some parts 
are incorporated into systems or modules assembled by various 
suppliers. There is a growing trend to packaging individual parts into 
a single unit, or module. For example, a steering wheel assembly may 
include an air bag, horn control, turn signal control, wiper control, 
ignition switch, cruise control, lighting controls, as well as 
associated wiring. Many of these units are assembled by a supplier, 
often with components from various manufacturers. Each of these 
fabricators or assemblers is also a manufacturer of motor vehicle 
equipment.
    When a component or module installed as OE on a vehicle fails, 
generally vehicle owners will complain or file a claim with the entity 
that has manufactured and warranted the vehicle, rather than the 
assembler of the module or the manufacturers of the individual parts, 
who in most instances are unknown to the vehicle owner. In view of 
this, in their comments to the ANPRM, the Alliance, Ford, and AIAM 
specifically supported exclusion of OE manufacturers (OEMs) from early 
warning reporting requirements. OEMs, however, are not exempt from 
defect reporting requirements. Pursuant to 49 CFR 573.3(f), if an OEM 
sells an item of OE to more than one vehicle manufacturer and a defect 
or noncompliance is decided to exist in that OE, the OEM is required to 
notify us (as are the manufacturers of the vehicles in which the OE is 
installed). If the defective OE is used in the vehicles of only one 
vehicle manufacturer, the OEM may notify us on behalf of both itself 
and the vehicle manufacturer (Section 573.3(e)) in either case, the OEM 
may also be the party remedying the safety defect or the 
noncompliance). Thus, OEMs can and do make determinations that OE 
contains safety-related defects, and they will have some information of 
the type that the TREAD Act authorizes us to

[[Page 45833]]

require, such as claims alleging failures of their products. For this 
reason, we did not propose to totally exempt OEMs from early warning 
reporting.
    We tentatively decided for the NPRM that most meaningful 
information about possible defects is more likely to come to the 
attention of the vehicle manufacturer earlier than it would to the OEM. 
However, we wanted to be certain that we obtain information regarding 
deaths attributed to OE. Accordingly, in the NPRM, we proposed that 
OEMs be exempt from all reporting requirements regarding OE they 
manufacture, except for reporting to us regarding deaths in the same 
manner as small volume vehicle manufacturers, discussed above. Of 
course, the vehicle manufacturer would be required to report fully in 
its capacity as a vehicle manufacturer, even if the vehicle 
manufacturer believed that the problem was the responsibility of the 
OEM.
    NTEA suggested that, in the case of work-related equipment that is 
installed as original equipment, defects or alleged defects only be 
reported if they are ``germane to the operation of the motor vehicle.'' 
It gave, as an example, defects occurring in the operation or design of 
work-producing equipment such as a ladder or crane. Because such a 
defect ``has nothing to do with the safe operation of the vehicle,'' it 
should not have to be reported to NHTSA.'' We disagree. As noted above, 
the statutory term ``motor vehicle safety'' includes ``nonoperational 
safety of a motor vehicle.'' There are certain work-performing items of 
equipment whose failure can have serious safety consequences. For 
example, a dump truck's dump body hydraulic control valve may 
malfunction while the truck is moving and the dump body move up, 
scattering materials on the roadway and blocking the driver's rearward 
view of the road. Such a malfunction could lead to a death, yet under 
the NTEA approach, it would not be reported to NHTSA because the 
control valve does not relate to the operation of the dump truck as a 
motor vehicle. Also, a falling crane could hit a vehicle or create a 
dangerous distraction. It is not possible to define for the many types 
of specialty trucks and vehicles what work-performing equipment should 
not be included; any attempt to exclude an item of equipment will 
inevitably lead to confusion as to what should be reported. In any 
event, in view of the limited reporting required, NTEA has not shown 
that including the rule would impose much of a burden.
2. Replacement Equipment
    Replacement equipment comprises an even broader universe of parts 
than OE. It includes all motor vehicle equipment other than OE. Not 
only does the term have the literal meaning of equipment that is 
intended to replace OE, it also includes accessory equipment and ``off-
vehicle equipment'' that is not part of a motor vehicle, such as jacks 
and most child restraints. Manufacturers of replacement equipment are 
within the scope of the early warning reporting provisions of the 
statute.
    Some replacement equipment items are critically important from a 
safety perspective, while others have less of a safety nexus. Child 
restraints and tires are critical safety items. Therefore, we proposed 
that all manufacturers of child restraints and tires be required to 
provide the full range of information and documents proposed.
    There is a large number of manufacturers of other types of 
replacement equipment. Much of this equipment is imported by or for 
auto parts houses such as J.C. Whitney, retailers such as Pep Boys, or 
general merchandisers. An importer for resale is considered a 
manufacturer under the statute. See 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(5)(B). A large 
universe of entities would be subject to multiple requirements if we 
were to fully apply early warning reporting requirements to all 
fabricators and importers of replacement equipment.
    Therefore, at least for purposes of this initial rulemaking, we 
proposed that, as with smaller volume vehicle manufacturers and 
original equipment manufacturers, manufacturers of other types of 
replacement equipment only be required to report to us claims regarding 
deaths and in notices regarding deaths allegedly due to possible 
defects in their products. We are adopting our proposal. However, we 
may revisit these limitations under our periodic review of the rule.
    In the preamble to the NPRM, we cited retroreflective motorcycle 
rider apparel as an example of off-road motor vehicle equipment. The 
Motorcycle Rider Foundation posted a notice on its website urging 
readers to ``Fight NHTSA's Bid For Clothing Control!,'' claiming that 
``NHTSA has no statutory authority for this power grab.'' Contrary to 
the Foundation's claim, ``motor vehicle equipment'' has been defined by 
statute (currently 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(7)(C)) since 1966 to include 
``any * * * apparel * * * that is not a * * * part * * * of a motor 
vehicle and is * * * intended to be used only to safeguard * * * 
highway users against risk of accident, injury, or death.'' We have 
not, and we do not intend to, prescribe standards or requirements for 
motorcycle apparel other than protective headgear, which has long been 
subject to FMVSS No. 218. The proposed rule would not, and the final 
rule does not, control motorcycle clothing. It is extremely unlikely 
that any such apparel would be the subject of a claim involving a 
death.
3. Tires
    Tires, of course, are essential items of motor vehicle equipment, 
and tire manufacturers have the duty to conduct notification and remedy 
campaigns and to address defective or noncompliant tires, whether sold 
in the aftermarket or installed on new vehicles (see current 49 CFR 
579.5(b)). Tire brand name owners (e.g., house brands) are also 
considered manufacturers (49 U.S.C. 30102(b)(1)(E)) and have the same 
defect and noncompliance reporting requirements as the actual 
fabricators of the tires (49 CFR 573.3(d)). We proposed that tire brand 
name owners be required to report, as well as tire manufacturers.
    RMA asked that the final rule clarify that, where the tire brand 
owner is not the fabricating manufacturer, only the tire brand owner 
need report. We concur with this suggestion; the type of information 
and data we are seeking for early warning purposes is not likely to be 
received by the fabricating manufacturer when tires are marketed under 
the name of the tire brand owner. Accordingly, as adopted, Section 
579.3(b) reads in pertinent part: ``In the case of any report required 
under this part, compliance by either the fabricating manufacturer * * 
* or brand name owner of the * * * motor vehicle equipment shall be 
considered compliance by all persons.''
4. Definition of ``Equipment''
    We proposed to retain the existing definitions of Part 579 for 
``original equipment'' and ``replacement equipment,'' in slightly 
edited form. These definitions of original equipment and replacement 
equipment are based on 49 CFR 579.4 (as it appears in 49 CFR Parts 400-
999, revised as of October 1, 2001) and are many years old. We are 
adopting them as proposed.
    The definition of ``original equipment'' includes ``equipment 
installed by the dealer or distributor with the express authorization 
of the motor vehicle manufacturer.'' Harley-Davidson observed that it 
has more than 2,000 suppliers and stated some items manufactured as 
original equipment or replacement parts for its motorcycles may find 
their way into the production

[[Page 45834]]

of other motorcycle brands or the general stream of commerce. Harley-
Davidson also observed that its catalog runs several hundred pages with 
thousands of separate replacement and custom parts. It expressed the 
belief that NHTSA would not want production reports on each and every 
one of these, and that it would not make sense to submit reports on 
these items unless claims involving them were actually received. 
Accordingly, the comment recommended that a manufacturer not be 
required to list all production in its reports, or report at all except 
when a reportable incident has occurred.
    We believe that the proposed rule was clear. Any manufacturer of 
motorcycles, original motorcycle equipment, and motorcycle replacement 
equipment is responsible for reporting incidents involving deaths based 
on claims it receives and on notices it receives alleging a defect in 
its product. But it is only with respect to motorcycles themselves that 
the manufacturer is responsible for reporting additional and specific 
categories of information to NHTSA under Section 579.23. Also, the 
motorcycle manufacturer is not responsible for reporting regarding 
equipment that is not original equipment, that is to say, equipment 
installed by a dealer without the manufacturer's express authorization.
    With regard to replacement equipment, under the rule, manufacturers 
of replacement equipment are required to report any claims or notices 
of death allegedly due to a defect. In its role as a manufacturer of 
replacement equipment, Harley-Davidson would not have to report an 
incident unless it receives a claim or notice. See Section 579.27.

IV. Information That Must Be Reported

    Section 30166(m)(3)(A) provides for NHTSA to require manufacturers 
to report information which concerns data on ``claims submitted to the 
manufacturer for serious injuries (including death) and aggregate 
statistical data on property damage from alleged defects in a motor 
vehicle or in motor vehicle equipment,'' and on ``customer satisfaction 
campaigns, consumer advisories, recalls or other activity involving the 
repair or replacement of motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle 
equipment.'' Section 30166(m)(3)(B) authorizes us to require 
manufacturers to report other ``such information'' that may assist in 
the identification of safety defects. Finally, Section 30166(m)(3)(C) 
provides for reporting of incidents, of which the manufacturer receives 
actual notice, involving deaths or serious injuries which are alleged 
or proven to have been caused by a possible defect in the 
manufacturer's vehicle or equipment in the United States, or in a 
foreign country when the possible defect is in a vehicle or equipment 
identical or substantially similar to that sold in the United States.

A. Production Information

    For each reporting period, we proposed to require manufacturers 
that manufactured for sale, offered for sale, imported, or sold in the 
United States 500 or more vehicles of specified categories, and all 
manufacturers of child restraint systems and tires, to provide 
information on the volume of production of their products. Production 
numbers are needed because the agency's trend analyses frequently are 
normalized to rates, such as the number of claims per unit of 
production. We proposed to require these manufacturers to submit the 
following information with respect to each model and model year of 
vehicle manufactured in the calendar year of the reporting period and 
the nine model years prior to the earliest model year of the reporting 
period, including models no longer in production: the manufacturer's 
name, the quarterly reporting period, the make, the model, the model 
year, the current model year production to the end of the reporting 
period, and the total model year production for all model years for 
which production has ceased. See 66 FR 66194.
    Under the NPRM, for each model of vehicles that are manufactured 
with more than one type of fuel system, and for each model of medium-
heavy vehicles with more than one type of service brake system, the 
information required by this subsection would have been reported 
separately. In the final rule, this distinction between types of fuel 
systems has not been adopted for light vehicles, and applies only to 
medium-heavy vehicles including buses. The final rule distinguishes 
between gasoline powered, diesel powered, and other. The distinction 
between types of service brake systems (hydraulic and air) applies to 
medium-heavy vehicles including buses, and trailers.
    In its analysis of potential defects, ODI has found it useful to 
compare problems in similar types of vehicles. The reporting category 
of ``light vehicles'' covers more types of vehicles than are defined in 
49 CFR 571.3(b). For example, ``light vehicle'' includes passenger 
cars, various types of multipurpose passenger vehicles (e.g., minivans, 
vans, SUVs), and some trucks. Therefore, we have concluded that, in 
addition to identifying the make and model of a vehicle, manufacturers 
of light vehicles must also indicate the type classification of the 
vehicle as defined in Section 571.3(b) (i.e., passenger car, 
multipurpose passenger vehicle, or truck) that appears on the vehicle's 
label pursuant to Section 567.4(g)(7) certifying compliance with all 
applicable FMVSS. Manufacturers would also report production data for 
incomplete light vehicles. An ``incomplete light vehicle'' is an 
incomplete vehicle as defined by Section 568.3 which, when completed, 
will be a light vehicle. For similar reasons, we are requiring each 
light vehicle manufacturer to identify the ``platform'' of the vehicle, 
using its own nomenclature, as discussed in Section IV.H.1.
    Similar considerations apply to child restraint systems. Therefore, 
we are requiring manufacturers of those products to indicate the 
``type'' of child restraint system in their production reports. We are 
establishing three separate categories, as follows: ``Rear-facing 
infant seat'' means a child restraint system that positions a child to 
face in the direction opposite to the normal direction of travel of the 
motor vehicle and is designed to hold children up to 20 pounds; 
``Booster seat'' means, as defined in S4 of FMVSS No. 213, ``either a 
backless child restraint system or a belt-positioning seat;'' and 
``Other'' encompasses all other child restraint systems not included in 
the first two categories.
    We recognize that manufacturers of medium-heavy trucks, buses, and 
trailers generally do not specify ``model years'' for their products. 
For purposes of this rule, to avoid confusion, we are defining the term 
``model year'' for those vehicles to mean the year the vehicle was 
produced if no model year has been assigned to it. For equipment, 
``model year'' will mean the calendar year the item was produced. We 
are using the term ``produced'' rather than ``manufactured'' to make it 
clear that we are not referring to the year a product was imported into 
the United States.
    With respect to tires and child restraint systems, production data 
would only need to be submitted for a period of five years (i.e., the 
year of the reporting period and the four previous years). The ten-year 
period would still apply to vehicle manufacturers.

B. Definition of ``Claim''

    Section 30166(m)(3)(A) refers to claims data. The ANPRM stated 
that, in order to achieve the goals of the TREAD

[[Page 45835]]

Act, the term ``claim'' must be construed broadly and provided some 
examples.
    We researched the definition of claim, considered comments received 
in response to the ANPRM, and considered our investigatory experience 
with requests for claims information when we issued the NPRM.
    As noted in the NPRM, case law provides interpretations of the word 
``claim'' in various contexts. In a Federal law context, `` ``claim'' 
is something more than mere notice of an accident and an injury. The 
term `claim' contemplates, in general usage, a demand for payment or 
relief.'' Avril v. U.S., 461 F.2d 1090, 1091 (9th Cir. 1972). See also, 
Conoco, Inc. v. United States, 39 Env't. Rep. Cas. (BNA) 1541 (N.D. La. 
1994)(written request for compensation for damages or costs); 31 U.S.C. 
3729(c) (claim involves request for demand for money or property).
    State case law also provides a definition of the word ``claim.'' 
For example, Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. v. The Superior Court of Los 
Angeles County, 65 Cal. App. 4th 1205, 1216 (1997), noted that a claim 
encompasses more than a suit:

``claim'' can be any number of things, none of which rise to the 
formal level of a suit--it may be a demand for payment communicated 
in a letter, or a document filed to protect an injured party's right 
to sue a governmental entity, or the document used to initiate a 
wide variety of administrative proceedings.

    Other state law cases have further addressed the meaning of 
``claim.'' Safeco Surplus Lines Co. v. Employer's Reinsurance Corp., 11 
Cal. App. 4th 1403, 1407 (1992), held that a ``claim'' is ``the 
assertion, demand or challenge of something as a right; the assertion 
of a liability to the party making it do some service or pay a sum of 
money.'' Phoenix Ins. Co. v. Sukut Construction Co., 136 Cal. App. 3d 
673, 677 (1982), stated that ``a claim both in its ordinary meaning and 
as interpreted by the courts, is a demand for something as a right, or 
as due and a formal lawsuit is not required before a claim is made.''
    We explained that the definition of claim should be broad, and meet 
our needs under the TREAD Act. We proposed the following definition for 
claim (at 66 FR 66195-96):

    A written request or demand for relief, including money or other 
compensation, assumption of expenditures, or equitable relief, 
related to a motor vehicle crash, accident, the failure of a 
component or system of a vehicle or an item of motor vehicle 
equipment, or a fire. Claim includes but is not limited to a demand 
in the absence of a lawsuit, a complaint initiating a lawsuit, an 
assertion or notice of litigation, a settlement, covenant not to sue 
or release of liability in the absence of a written demand, and a 
subrogation request. A claim exists regardless of any denial or 
refusal to pay it, and regardless of whether it has been settled or 
resolved in the manufacturer's favor. The existence of a claim may 
not be conditioned on the receipt of anything beyond the document 
stating a claim.

    The proposed definition of claim addressed the nature of a 
reportable claim and the subject matter that was covered. This was set 
forth in one definition to simplify matters and avoid to the extent 
possible complex definitional structures. First, a reportable claim 
would be a written request or demand for relief, including money or 
other compensation, assumption of expenditures, or equitable relief. It 
would include, but not be limited to, a demand in the absence of a 
lawsuit, a complaint initiating a lawsuit, an assertion or notice of 
litigation, a settlement, covenant not to sue or release of liability 
in the absence of a written demand, and a subrogation request. A claim 
would exist regardless of any denial or refusal to pay it, and 
regardless of whether it has been settled or resolved in the 
manufacturer's favor. Finally, the existence of a claim could not be 
conditioned on the receipt of anything beyond the document stating a 
claim. The last two sentences of our proposal were designed to assure 
that all relevant claims are provided to us. This would preclude 
attempts, similar to those that have been made by some manufacturers in 
our investigations, to evade reporting claims by conditioning them on 
receipt of parts, or their own assessments of the merits of claims. 
Second, as to the subject matter, we referred to a motor vehicle crash, 
accident, component or system failure, and a fire, as these are events 
that have safety implications. The proposed definition would exclude, 
for example, events with which the rule is not concerned, such as 
injuries in manufacturers' factories. Finally, the definition did not 
address what the claim must involve, allege or contain, as those 
matters are not parts of a definition of a claim. They are addressed 
below, as are warranties.
    PC, CU, the Alliance, AIAM, Nissan, Honda, JPMA, RMA, and Harley-
Davidson provided comments on this definition.
    PC expressed approval of the proposed definition, with the caveat 
that the agency should also require the submission of basic information 
concerning lawsuits, such as the date the complaint was filed, the 
alleged injury, and the eventual disposition of the case. The 
additional information proposed by PC would not be necessary for early 
warning screening. The date the complaint was filed and the eventual 
disposition of the matter are not important to NHTSA for early warning 
purposes. NHTSA is concerned with the incident and using the basic 
information about the incident to identify a potential defect trend, 
not the outcome of litigation, which often occurs years later.
    The Alliance recommended an alternative definition for a claim. It 
suggested a claim means:

a written request or written demand for relief, including money or 
other compensation, assumption of expenditures, or equitable relief, 
related to a motor vehicle crash, accident, the failure of a 
component or system of a vehicle or an item of motor vehicle 
equipment, or fire originating in a motor vehicle, that is sent to 
the manufacturer from the claimant or his/her authorized 
representative. Claim includes a demand in the absence of a lawsuit, 
an assertion or notice of litigation, or a subrogation request.

    In support of its definition, the Alliance commented, and RMA 
concurred, that the definition of ``claim'' must specify more clearly 
that a claim must be in writing, regardless of whether it is a 
``request'' or a ``demand.'' Furthermore, the Alliance stated that the 
definition should limit fire-related claims to those allegedly 
originating in a motor vehicle, to avoid the need to report claims 
related to fires in factories or offices of a manufacturer. The 
Alliance suggested that the definition must clarify that the claim must 
originate outside the company by the claimant or the claimant's 
authorized representative. The Alliance added that some of the types of 
activities included in NHTSA's proposed definition seemed 
inappropriate, such as ``settlement,'' or ``covenant not to sue,'' 
which is not a claim and will not be processed or coded as a claim by 
the manufacturer's ordinary claims-processing functions. It noted that 
a ``claim'' precedes a ``settlement'' or ``covenant not to sue,'' so it 
saw no need to include those terms in the definition. Finally, the 
Alliance submitted that a class action suit should be reported as one 
claim, rather than per member, because there is no way to ascertain the 
size of the class.
    Harley-Davidson observed that the proposed definition of ``claim,'' 
unlike the proposed definition of ``warranty claim,'' is not 
necessarily limited to claims presented to the manufacturer, and should 
be revised accordingly.
    JPMA requested the agency clarify that manufacturers need not 
report requests for free replacement components, such as harness clips,

[[Page 45836]]

broken in collisions where the claim does not allege or suggest that 
the broken component had anything to do with the injuries sustained in 
the collision.
    We have carefully considered these comments. The Alliance and RMA 
suggested that NHTSA clarify that the claim be made in writing. The 
proposal defines a claim in part as ``a written request or demand for 
relief.'' The Alliance asked whether a ``demand'' also has to be in 
writing, asserting that some may conclude that only a ``request'' has 
to be in writing. We meant that ``written'' applies to and modifies 
both requests and demands, but since there appears to be some confusion 
as to our intent we are adding ``written'' before ``demand.''
    The Alliance, RMA and Harley-Davidson also suggested that a claim 
must be one that is sent to the manufacturer from the claimant or the 
claimant's authorized representative. As noted in the definitions of 
claim from cases cited above, transmission of the claim is not part of 
the definition of claim. We believe that it is implicit that a claim 
would not have to be reported if it had not been received by the 
manufacturer or its registered agent. Nonetheless, we are adding to the 
reporting requirements the element that the claim must be one that is 
received by the manufacturer.
    A third suggestion submitted by the Alliance is for NHTSA to delete 
the terms such as ``settlement,'' or ``covenant not to sue,'' because a 
manufacturer would have to receive a claim prior to these types of 
activities being undertaken. We disagree with this assertion. A 
settlement agreement or a covenant not to sue may have been preceded by 
only an oral demand upon the manufacturer. Oral demands need not be 
reported. Thus, the exclusion of settlements or covenants not to sue 
could result in underreporting.
    The Alliance also suggested that a class action suit be counted as 
one claim because it is impossible to determine the size of the class. 
We agree in part with this comment. Rarely are class action suits 
brought where the claims are based on fatalities or injuries. In any 
event, for such class actions, each separate class action suit would be 
considered as a single claim, at a minimum. However, if a class action 
suit against a manufacturer does identify specific persons (excluding 
John and Jane Does) who died or were injured, the manufacturer should 
report on each of these claims separately. Similarly, in instances 
where there is a class action involving property damage, each 
identified class representative should be reported as presenting a 
separate claim.
    We have considered cross-claims and third-party claims. A 
manufacturer would not need to report any claim, including a cross-
claim, if it had already reported a claim involving the incident. 
However, it would have to report a third-party claim against it if it 
had not previously reported the incident. This would assure that we 
receive the information about the incident underlying the claim. For 
example, the original defendant might be an automotive dealership that 
third-partied the manufacturer as a defendant to a suit.
    The vehicle manufacturers also raised comments on whether claims 
arising out of some fires should be reported. The Alliance commented 
that the inclusion of ``fire'' in the definition could be construed as 
covering claims received by a manufacturer related to fires that did 
not originate in motor vehicles. The intent of NHTSA's proposed 
definition was that the fire must relate to a motor vehicle or item of 
motor vehicle equipment; we did not intend to require reports on office 
or factory fires. Nonetheless, to clarify reporting of claims due to a 
fire, we are modifying the proposal to specify that it includes fires 
originating in or from a motor vehicle or a substance that leaked from 
a motor vehicle. This would cover, for example, fires from gasoline 
that spilled in a crash.
    We also received comments on environmental claims. In general, 
NHTSA does not address issues involving alleged injury due to long-term 
environmental exposure. However, there can be overlaps between vehicle 
safety and environmental issues, and therefore we are not excluding all 
environmentally-related claims. For example, a vehicle fuel-release 
problem may be cognizable under the Clean Air Act, tort law, and the 
Vehicle Safety Act. Unfortunately, the comments we received on this 
issue lacked detail and did not suggest how to exclude irrelevant 
claims, although some examples were provided. For example, Nissan and 
the Alliance stated that exposure to asbestos in brake linings could 
lead to a claim related to environmental exposure. We are also aware of 
issues related to emissions of volatile organic compounds from vehicle 
interiors and of end-of-life environmental claims such as those related 
to disposal. This could include claims associated with the disposal of 
tires, batteries and mercury-containing components, as well as other 
vehicle residuals such as in junkyard operations (e.g., incineration). 
We have decided that these types of claims do not have to be reported 
to NHTSA under the early warning rule and are adding an exclusion to 
the definition of ``claim'' to reflect this. The reason is that these 
claims do not relate to the safety of a motor vehicle that is or may be 
operated. They would not aid in spotting a defect trend and are not the 
basis of past Vehicle Safety Act recalls.
    JPMA, which represents child restraint manufacturers, commented 
that NHTSA should clarify that manufacturers of this equipment need not 
report requests for free replacement components, such as harness clips, 
broken in collisions where the claim does not allege or suggest that 
the broken component had anything to do with deaths or injuries or 
property damage. This comment is not consistent with the structure of 
the rule. Under the rule, manufacturers are required to report claims 
in the absence of an allegation of a specific failure of a component or 
causation. As discussed in the NPRM, many claims do not include 
specific allegations, but merely include general allegations of product 
failure. This is a type of information that NHTSA is seeking to help it 
identify defect trends. We believe that by requiring the reporting of 
all claims that fall within the definition, NHTSA will capture the 
information most likely to identify a potential defect trend. Of 
course, if the consumer's request was not related to a crash, such as a 
statement that a component was lost and the consumer requested a free 
replacement, the manufacturer would not report that request.
    Therefore, based upon the foregoing we are defining ``claim'' as:

    A written request or written demand for relief, including money 
or other compensation, assumption of expenditures, or equitable 
relief, related to a motor vehicle crash, accident, the failure of a 
component or system of a vehicle or an item of motor vehicle 
equipment, or a fire originating in or from a motor vehicle or a 
substance that leaked from a motor vehicle. Claim includes, but is 
not limited to, a demand in the absence of a lawsuit, a complaint 
initiating a lawsuit, an assertion or notice of litigation, a 
settlement, covenant not to sue or release of liability in the 
absence of a written demand, and a subrogation request. A claim 
exists regardless of any denial or refusal to pay it, and regardless 
of whether it has been settled or resolved in the manufacturer's 
favor. The existence of a claim may not be conditioned on the 
receipt of anything beyond the document(s) stating a claim. Claim 
does not include demands related to asbestos exposure, to emissions 
of volatile organic compounds from vehicle interiors, or to end-of-
life disposal of vehicles, parts or components of vehicles, 
equipment, or parts or components of equipment.

[[Page 45837]]

C. Definition of ``Notice''

    Section 30166(m)(3)(C) provides for the reporting of ``all 
incidents of which the manufacturer receives actual notice,'' involving 
fatalities or serious injuries that are alleged or proven to have been 
caused by a possible defect in its products. The term ``actual notice'' 
is extremely broad. To avoid impractical requirements, we proposed to 
require reporting of incidents of which a manufacturer receives or 
obtains documentation (e.g., in written or electronic formats). 66 FR 
66196. We tried to avoid overlapping the definition of claim, which, as 
noted above, includes a written request or written demand for relief. 
In this context, we proposed to define ``notice'' in the context of an 
applicable incident to mean ``a document received by or prepared by a 
manufacturer that does not include a demand for relief.'' This would 
include, for example, a letter advising a manufacturer of a crash in 
which there was a death or injury and an allegation of a defect in the 
vehicle where there was no claim for monetary or other relief. In the 
preamble to the proposed rule, we noted that newspaper articles or 
other media reports would not, in themselves, constitute ``notice,'' 
unless either they were provided to the manufacturer, such as by an 
owner, or actions taken by the manufacturer reflect that it had 
received notice of the incidents in question.
    The Alliance, Nissan, MEMA, PC, Bendix, and RMA provided comments. 
PC agreed with NHTSA's proposed definition.
    The manufacturer commenters (Alliance, Nissan, MEMA, Bendix, and 
RMA) argued that the proposed definition of ``notice'' was too broad 
and over inclusive. More particularly, Nissan and RMA stated that the 
language ``prepared by the manufacturer'' was a concern. RMA observed 
that the agency did not provide examples of what type of document 
``prepared by the manufacturer'' would be included within the 
definition of ``notice,'' and recommended that this category be 
eliminated in the absence of further guidance and clarification on the 
issue. Thus, RMA recommended that the definition of ``notice'' be ``a 
document received by a manufacturer that does not include a demand for 
relief.''
    All the manufacturers complained that the proposed definition would 
be construed to include all newspaper articles and media reports 
discussing the manufacturer and asserted that this would impose a 
tremendous burden on the manufacturers. Nissan was concerned as to what 
actions taken by a manufacturer can transform a mere article into a 
reportable notice.
    Several commenters submitted alternate proposals for the definition 
of notice. The Alliance suggested that notice be defined as a written 
communication sent to a manufacturer alleging that a defect in a motor 
vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment by that manufacturer caused 
an injury or fatality to the person originating the communication or to 
the person on whose behalf the notice is sent, but that does not 
request relief from the manufacturer. Notice does not include newspaper 
articles, publicly available Internet bulletin board postings or other 
materials in the public domain.
    Nissan recommended that the definition of notice exclude situations 
where a manufacturer would have to report on ``actions'' in connection 
with media reports and be limited to those that, on their face, are 
presented to manufacturers for the purposes of notifying them of a 
potential vehicle defect. MEMA suggested that ``notice'' be defined as 
``a document received by a manufacturer that (a) does not include a 
demand for relief, and (b) does not consist of unconfirmed media or 
other unconfirmed reports.''
    Finally, Bendix suggested that requests for information that 
manufacturers receive from other government agencies, such as the NTSB, 
should be excluded from the definition of notice. We have considered 
these comments and have modified the proposed definition of ``notice'' 
to reflect them.
    The Alliance recommended without explanation that the definition of 
notice include an element of death or injury. This was not included in 
MEMA's suggested definition. We are not adopting the Alliance's 
proposal. The definition of notice characterizes the essential nature 
of the notice. The elements that must to be set forth in the notice to 
trigger reporting are separate from the definition and are addressed 
under the regulatory requirements.
    Next, under the definition in the NPRM, a document ``prepared by a 
manufacturer'' that does not include a demand for relief would be a 
``notice.'' As noted above, several commenters expressed concern over 
the potential breadth of the language ``prepared by the manufacturer.'' 
In consideration of these comments, we are not adopting this phrase as 
part of the final definition. Before adopting such a requirement, we 
need to consider further the obligations that such a requirement would 
impose and the associated burdens.
    Several manufacturers expressed concern that they would have to 
review and scan every news medium for reports discussing their 
products. This does not follow from a fair reading of the preamble to 
the NPRM. As we stated, newspaper articles and other media reports 
would only be reported when sent to the manufacturer by an owner or in 
situations where the manufacturer itself acknowledges, through its 
actions, that it received notice of the actual incident that was the 
subject of the media report. Furthermore, under the proposed rule, to 
trigger reporting, notices of death and injury had to allege or prove 
that the fatality or injury was caused by a possible defect in the 
manufacturer's vehicle or equipment and the vehicle had to be 
identified with minimal specificity.
    Nonetheless, to reduce burdens that might be associated with review 
of newspaper articles, the definition of ``notice'' in the final rule 
requires reporting only of letters and other documents sent to the 
manufacturer (including those sent in electronic form) that on their 
face include the elements of the rule regarding notices of deaths and 
injuries, without regard to the content of any enclosed or attached 
newspaper article. This is expressed in the final rule by the phrase 
``other than a media article.'' In general, newspaper articles do not 
have the required elements for reporting, including an allegation of a 
death or injury alleged or proven to have been caused by a defect, and 
minimal specificity regarding the vehicle or equipment. We believe that 
this resolution will result in very little unreported information and 
that it will reduce burdens associated with the asserted need to review 
newspapers or magazines for articles that may involve reportable 
incidents. This approach is similar to the first part of MEMA's 
proposed definition. However, we believe the definition suggested by 
the Alliance is too narrow. The Alliance would limit reporting of 
notices to those sent to a manufacturer by a customer or his/her 
representative. We would want reporting of notices by others, such as 
an injured non-owner passenger or eyewitness, and reporting where the 
legal status of a person as a representative is not specified, as it 
might not be in a letter written by a non-attorney.
    Finally, we agree with Bendix that requests for information from 
other government agencies would generally not constitute a ``notice.'' 
However, we will not exempt all communications from such agencies, 
since they could relate to a problem that the agency or one of its 
employees had with a vehicle

[[Page 45838]]

or an item of equipment. This is most obvious with respect to 
communications from the General Services Administration, which manages 
many Federal vehicles, but also can apply to other agencies. To avoid 
unnecessary burdens, however, we will exempt communications from NHTSA, 
since we would already have the information included in such a 
communication.
    Therefore, ``notice'' is defined in the final rule as ``a document, 
other than a media article, that does not include a demand for relief 
and that a manufacturer receives from a person other than NHTSA.''

D. Identification of the Product in Claims and Notices

    To be covered by these early warning requirements, a claim or 
notice, as well as other matters addressed below, would have to 
identify the vehicle or equipment item involved in at least a minimal 
way. Otherwise, it would not be possible to identify what vehicle or 
equipment was involved, and the information would not help us to 
identify potential defects. In the context of identification, we 
proposed to use the term ``minimal specificity'' and to define it to 
mean ``(a) for a vehicle, the make, model and model year, (b) for a 
child seat, the model (either the model name or model number), (c) for 
a tire, the model and size, and (d) for other motor vehicle equipment, 
if there is a model or family of models identified on the item of 
equipment, the model name or model number.''
    We proposed to define ``model year'' for this and all other early 
warning reporting purposes, for vehicles, to include the year that a 
vehicle was manufactured if the manufacturer has not assigned a model 
year to the vehicle covered by the report. For equipment, we proposed 
that ``model'' mean the name that its manufacturer uses to designate 
it. `` Model year'' would mean the calendar year in which the equipment 
was manufactured.
    We asked for comments on the clarity and inclusiveness of these 
proposed definitions.
    Johnson asked the agency to confirm that an incident involving an 
item of equipment need not be reported by its manufacturer unless the 
manufacturer has knowledge of the assembly part number or the component 
part number of the equipment item involved. The comment did not 
elaborate on why model name or model number would be inadequate and why 
an equipment item would have to be identified with this level of 
specificity for its manufacturer to comply with the proposed early 
warning reporting requirements. In view of the lack of information in 
the comment, we have no basis to modify our proposed definition. 
Adoption of such a suggestion could result in underreporting of claims 
of death.
    RMA commented that, for a tire, the minimal information required 
should be the ``manufacturer, tire line, tire size, and tire 
identification number (TIN).'' According to RMA:

    the term ``tire line'' is the preferred term used by the tire 
manufacturers to designate their products, and, in most cases, is 
synonymous with the term ``tire model.'' The ``tire line'' name 
appears on the tire sidewall and is readily identifiable by 
consumers. Examples of ``tire line'' names are: Grabber AP, Discover 
A/T, Scorpion A/S, Firehawk LH, Energy MXV4 and Wrangler HT.

    Accordingly, NHTSA will adopt the RMA recommendation to use the 
term ``tire line'' rather than ``model,'' and to define it as ``the 
entire name used by a tire manufacturer to designate a tire product, 
including all prefixes and suffixes as they appear on the sidewall of 
the tire.''
    RMA asserted that that a reporting manufacturer should verify that 
it was, in fact, the manufacturer of the tire and that tire line, size, 
and TIN are needed for a precise identification of the tire. We 
disagree with respect to the TIN. To require a TIN would result in 
underreporting. If a tire is involved in a death, for early warning 
purposes it is sufficient that we know the tire manufacturer, tire 
line, and tire size, whereas the TIN may not be known at the time that 
the manufacturer initially receives the claim or notice. Timeliness is 
of the essence. Thus, we have decided that minimal specificity for 
tires is the manufacturer, tire line, and tire size.
    With regard to claims, notices, and other reporting obligations 
discussed below, for vehicles, we proposed to define ``model'' to mean 
``a name that a manufacturer applies to a family of vehicles within a 
make which have a degree of commonality in construction, such as body, 
chassis or cab type.'' ``Make,'' in turn, would mean ``a name that a 
manufacturer applies to a group of vehicles.'' The proposed definition 
of ``make'' was identical to the definition of ``make'' used in 49 CFR 
Part 565, Vehicle Identification Number Requirements (see Section 
565.3(g)). The proposed definition of ``model'' is the definition the 
VIN regulation uses for ``[vehicle] line'' (see Section 565.3(f)). We 
requested comments on this approach and how our definition may achieve 
it. We did not receive any.
    Our objective is to obtain reports by commonly-understood 
designations. For example, manufacturers must submit separate reports 
for pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles built on a similar frame, 
since the submission of more narrowly defined data sets provides 
enhanced analytical capabilities, the vehicles are subject to different 
uses and stresses, and the vehicles have numerous different components. 
We would receive separate reports for identical vehicles of different 
``makes'' (such as Chevrolet and GMC pickups, or Ford Taurus and 
Mercury Sable passenger cars). In addition, manufacturers would submit 
separate reports for different basic models of pickup trucks, such as 
the Ford F-150, F-250, and F-350, but within each such model, they 
would not submit separate reports for two-door and four-door versions, 
or versions with different engines, transmissions, or trim packages. 
Moreover, manufacturers would not report separately for two-wheel drive 
and four-wheel drive versions of the same vehicle, since this 
distinction is normally not critical in an early warning context.
    If an otherwise covered claim or notice as initially received by 
the manufacturer does not identify the allegedly defective product with 
minimal specificity but a subsequent communication does, it would 
become a covered claim or notice at the time of the subsequent 
communication, and the manufacturer would be required to report it in 
its next report to NHTSA. See Section 579.28(d).

E. Claims and Notices Involving Death

1. Whether to Define Death
    We did not propose to define death or fatality because we did not 
believe that it is necessary or appropriate to do so. Our reason was 
simple: the subject matter of this category of information is claims 
involving deaths and notices of incidents involving fatalities. As we 
explained, proof of death is not necessary, nor does it matter when 
death occurred.
2. Claims Involving Death
    We proposed that every manufacturer be required to report certain 
information about each incident involving a death identified in claims 
it received during each reporting period, if the claim identified the 
product with minimal specificity. This would apply to claims regarding 
fatal incidents in foreign countries as well as the United States. We 
will discuss the comments related to this issue in the next section.
3. Notices Involving Death
    We also proposed that manufacturers be required to report similar 
information about each incident involving a death

[[Page 45839]]

that occurred in the United States that is identified in a notice (as 
defined above) in which it is alleged or proven that the fatality was 
caused in whole or in part by a possible defect in such manufacturer's 
vehicle or equipment, received during each reporting period, if the 
product is identified with minimal specificity. Information about 
incidents referred to in such notices would be combined with 
information about claims involving deaths on the same report, which 
would be submitted in electronic form, as discussed below.
    CU, the Alliance, Nissan, AIAM, and Delphi commented on our 
proposals with respect to incidents involving death. CU supported the 
proposal as written. The Alliance requested clarification on the 
reporting of incidents involving a death in another manufacturer's 
vehicle, or the death of a pedestrian. The remaining commenters 
expressed concern that the proposed requirements could result in the 
submission of reports on the same incident by more than one 
manufacturer, or could burden manufacturers with the need to update 
reports in the event that a person initially reported as injured later 
dies.
    Delphi expressed concern with possible duplication in the reporting 
requirements. Its comment noted that, under its interpretation of the 
proposed rules, it is possible that both the vehicle manufacturer and 
the manufacturer of a system or component used in the vehicle could 
report the same incident to NHTSA. Delphi recommended that the database 
have a key-relational column that could be used to identify redundancy. 
Delphi asserted that the name of the person who died is the only 
information that would be generally available for this purpose. 
Accordingly, it suggested that the agency acquire and maintain that 
information but not make it public.
    While we recognize that there is a possibility of redundancy (i.e., 
that an incident involving a death could be reported by a vehicle 
manufacturer and a supplier), we believe that it is vitally important 
that we maximize the information about such incidents that is presented 
to us. Also, reports by a component manufacturer could be of importance 
either to the vehicle manufacturer or NHTSA in detecting potential 
defects when the same component is used in the vehicles of another 
manufacturer that has not yet received claims and notices involving 
deaths and injuries. As reported by the Alliance, the total number of 
claims received by its members (plus Honda) in 2000 for both death and 
injury was 9,200. It is likely that we will be able to identify most 
duplicate reports by considering the date of the incident and the 
location. Thus, there is no need to require manufacturers to submit the 
names of persons who died in the incidents.
    Delphi also recommended that a means be provided for a manufacturer 
to update information that it previously submitted. For example, a 
manufacturer may receive notice of a death during a reporting period 
and subsequently receive notice of another death attributable to the 
same incident. Delphi suggested that the process for updating this type 
of information be defined. As discussed in Section IV.O, below, we have 
decided to limit the amount of required updating of information about 
incidents previously reported to us.
    The Alliance asked NHTSA to clarify how a manufacturer should 
handle claims or notices identifying incidents involving a death (or 
injury) in another manufacturer's vehicle, or the death (or injury) of 
a pedestrian. The comment explained that this may occur, for example, 
in cases where the claim alleges that the striking vehicle, in which no 
death or injury occurred, had brake failure. The Alliance recommended 
that the manufacturer should report these incidents to NHTSA, even 
though it may result in some overcounting if the manufacturer of the 
other vehicle involved submits a report on the same incident. We agree.
    Nissan stated that the proposed rule contained an omission in that 
it did not expressly limit the reporting of incidents involving deaths 
in foreign countries to those alleging that the death was caused by a 
possible defect in the manufacturer's product. As noted in the NPRM's 
preamble, this approach to reporting was intentional. Under the 
proposed rule, manufacturers would be required to report incidents 
involving one or more deaths or injuries occurring in the United States 
that are identified in claims against the manufacturer or in notices to 
the manufacturer alleging or proving that the death was caused by a 
possible defect in the manufacturer's product. See, e.g., proposed 
Section 579.11(b). The condition that there be an allegation or proof 
that the death was caused by a possible defect applied to notices but 
not to claims. For incidents involving one or more deaths occurring in 
foreign countries, a manufacturer would only need to report claims 
against it involving its product or one that is identical or 
substantially similar to a product that the manufacturer has offered 
for sale in the United States, but not notices of such deaths. Id. The 
agency explained in the preamble of the NPRM that because of problems 
and costs anticipated for the collection, categorization, translation, 
and analysis of foreign data, it had ``decided not to require at this 
time any information about incidents that occur in foreign countries 
except for those based on claims involving deaths.'' See preamble at p. 
66215. The agency further explained in the preamble that because the 
assertion of a defect or malfunction is implicit in most ``claims,'' 
``for early warning reporting purposes, a claim need not specifically 
allege or describe a defect.'' See preamble at p. 66199. For those 
reasons, as well as the realization that causation may not be required 
under foreign legal systems, the agency will not limit the reporting of 
incidents involving deaths in foreign countries identified in claims to 
those specifically alleging that a death was caused by a possible 
defect in the manufacturer's product.
4. Information About Deaths
    We proposed that the information about deaths to be reported would 
contain, for each incident, the make, model, and model year of the 
vehicle or equipment, the date of the incident, the number of deaths 
that occurred in the incident, the name of the State in the United 
States or the foreign country in which the incident occurred, and the 
identification of each component or system that allegedly contributed 
to the incident or the death reported. We are adopting this proposal 
and adding a requirement to report the VIN of the vehicle, or the TIN 
of the tire, as applicable. The VIN is needed to allow us to fully 
identify the vehicle in question and compare it to relevant peers and 
to utilize other relevant information that may be available (e.g., FARS 
data). The TIN is needed to confirm related information about the tire 
in question.
    We are also limiting the number of components or systems that need 
to be identified to five. It is unlikely that any claim or notice would 
identify more than five components or systems as having contributed to 
an incident. If the incident involved fire or rollover, these events 
are included in the limitation of five.
    However, given the large and varying universe of motor vehicle 
equipment, manufacturers of original equipment and of replacement 
equipment other than tires and child restraint systems would describe 
the systems or components involved in their own words, based on the 
claim or notice. We proposed this approach to make reporting by these 
manufacturers simpler than it would otherwise be if they had to use 
designations with which

[[Page 45840]]

they are not familiar. We are adopting this approach.

F. Claims and Notices Involving Injuries

1. The Definition of ``Injury''
    The preamble of the NPRM identified an assortment of problems 
encountered by the agency in considering whether to define ``serious 
injury,'' and stated that in view of those problems, ``we are proposing 
to require certain categories of manufacturers to report each incident 
in which persons are injured in the United States that is identified in 
a claim or notice alleging or proving that the injury was caused by a 
defect in the manufacturer's product, if the claim or notice identifies 
the product with minimal specificity.'' 66 FR 66198. The NPRM noted 
that even though pertinent statutory provisions at 49 U.S.C. 
30166(m)(3)(A) and (C) make reference to ``serious injury,'' the agency 
is authorized under Section 30166(m)(3)(B) to require the reporting of 
claims and notices involving all injuries. The proposed rule would 
require manufacturers to submit ``[a] report on each incident involving 
one or more deaths or injuries occurring in the United States that is 
identified in claim(s) against the manufacturer or in notice(s) to the 
manufacturer alleging or proving that the death or injury was caused by 
a possible defect in the manufacturer's [product] * * *''
    The Alliance, AIAM, Nissan, Honda, MIC, Spartan, Utilimaster, JPMA, 
and CU provided comments.
    Notwithstanding NHTSA's explanation of its reasons for requiring 
reports of incidents involving all injuries as opposed to serious 
injuries, several manufacturers (Honda, Utilimaster, and Spartan) 
continued to argue that NHTSA should develop a clear, easy-to-apply 
definition to limit the reporting of serious injury claims. Honda 
contended that Congress recognized the potential pitfalls of mandating 
the collection of too much data by specifying the data to be collected 
in TREAD Act (Section 3(b)(m)(3)(a)(i)) as ``data on claims submitted 
to the manufacturer for serious injuries (including death) and 
aggregate statistical data on property damage from alleged defects in a 
motor vehicle or in motor vehicle equipment.'' As an alternative, Honda 
proposed to define serious injury as ``one that normally requires 
treatment by medical professionals,'' to reduce the analytical skill 
level necessary to categorize injuries.
    Several manufacturers (the Alliance, AIAM, Nissan and Honda) 
commented that NHTSA should exclude claims for non-physical injuries, 
such as emotional distress, loss of consortium, and long-term 
environmental exposure. They asserted that these claims do not add any 
value to spotting a defect trend.
    We do not agree with Honda's suggestion that serious injury be 
defined as ``one that normally requires treatment by medical 
professionals.'' This definition is vague. Honda's definition would 
require us to define what ``normally requires treatment by medical 
professionals,'' a daunting task for the vast array of potential 
injuries. Honda did not define ``normally requires,'' ``treatment,'' or 
``medical professionals.'' Honda's suggestion raises the concerns we 
addressed in the NPRM concerning an objective definition of ``serious 
injury'' in the context of the AIS system. NHTSA chose not to define 
``serious injury'' because of difficulties in objectively defining 
``serious injury,'' concern about manufacturers' delays in reporting 
the information as a result of the need to assess seriousness in the 
absence of necessary information, and the need for subjective 
determinations on the part of the manufacturers. We also wanted to ease 
manufacturers' fears that their decisions would be second-guessed and 
reduce the burden on them that continued monitoring to consider newly 
received information would require. In addition, Honda's suggestion 
would require manufacturers to hire expert staff to make assessments.
    The concern expressed most often by industry commenters in regard 
to reporting on claims and notices involving injuries is that the 
definition of injury should exclude non-physical injuries such as 
emotional distress and injuries related to environmental conditions. In 
our view, practical considerations dictate that distinguishing between 
physical and non-physical injuries is not appropriate in the context of 
early warning reporting. In many cases, claims for injury are not very 
specific as to the type of injury alleged. Most states have very 
liberal pleading requirements for stating a cause of action in a 
complaint initiating a lawsuit. Some merely require that the complaint 
allege a general cause of action and that as a result the plaintiff 
sustained injury. Some states, such as California, use generic pleading 
forms for certain types of causes of action, such as motor vehicle 
accidents, general negligence, and product liability. These pleading 
forms do not require that a claimant indicate the precise or detailed 
type of injury. Instead, the claimant merely checks a box that 
indicates whether he or she is claiming compensatory damages. In these 
instances, where there were general allegations, unless it performed 
continued monitoring of claims (which most manufacturers resisted on 
grounds of burden), a manufacturer would be unable to distinguish 
between a claim alleging a physical injury and a claim alleging a non-
physical injury.
    Furthermore, if we were to embark on an exclusion of ``non-physical 
injury claims,'' we would have to define the term. This is ill advised 
for the same reasons set forth above regarding the reasons why we chose 
not to define ``serious injury;'' e.g., reporting delays, subjective 
determinations of manufacturers, second-guessing manufacturer 
decisions, easing burdens, etc.
    We have considered the commenters' concern that reporting incidents 
involving non-physical injuries may indicate the existence of a defect 
trend when there is none. However, the comments have not demonstrated 
that non-physical injuries would necessarily not be indicative of a 
defect trend. At a minimum, we believe the reporting of some non-
physical injuries may be desirable under the early warning rule. 
Consider for example a situation where an inadvertent air bag 
deployment did not cause physical injury but there is an alleged 
emotional injury. The inadvertent air bag deployment would be of 
interest to NHTSA since it could lead to physical injuries in other 
incidents. In another instance, a tire tread might separate, causing 
the driver to lose control of the vehicle and go off the road. The only 
injury may be an alleged emotional injury that is brought to the 
attention of the tire manufacturer through a claim. If we followed the 
suggestion of some commenters, these matters could go unreported. 
However, these claims are important to NHTSA because they may be 
indicative of a vehicle or component problem.
    Several manufacturers raised concerns regarding claims related to 
environmental exposure to toxic substances, such as asbestos. We have 
addressed those concerns in our discussion of the definition of 
``claim.''
2. Reporting of Incidents in Which Persons Were Injured, Based on 
Claims and Notices
    We proposed to require manufacturers (other than those covered by 
proposed Section 579.28) to report each incident in which one or more 
persons are injured in the United States that is identified in a claim 
or notice, if the product was identified with minimal specificity and, 
as to notices, it was alleged or proved that the injury was

[[Page 45841]]

caused by a possible defect in the product. For these manufacturers, 
the report would be combined with the reporting of incidents involving 
fatalities and include the same types of information. This would limit 
the number of reports and avoid duplication that could be associated 
with separate reports of deaths and injuries stemming from the same 
incident. We are adopting this approach for the reasons discussed 
above.

G. Other Possible Conditions on Reporting of Deaths and Injuries

    In the NPRM, we recognized that some commenters to the ANPRM 
suggested that, to be covered under the reporting provisions, a claim 
or notice must also specifically allege that the fatality or injury was 
caused by a possible defect. The allegation of a defect is not 
statutorily required under Section 30166(m)(3)(A) or (B). Moreover, 
such a limitation would lead to under-reporting. In a lawsuit, which is 
one type of a claim, a defect need not be alleged if the pleading 
requirements of the relevant jurisdiction do not require such an 
averment. For example, in some states such as California, the claim/
pleading requirements for complaints do not require the plaintiff to 
allege the existence of a defect. Moreover, with respect to claims, the 
assertion of a defect is implicit, since ordinarily there would 
otherwise be no reason to make the claim. Therefore, we proposed that, 
for early warning reporting purposes, a claim need not specifically 
allege or describe a defect. It is enough if the claim contains 
information indicating that a death or injury has allegedly occurred, 
and it is alleged or proven that the manufacturer's product is 
responsible.
    Different considerations apply to those incidents of which the 
manufacturer receives notice that does not amount to a claim, since 
Section 30166(m)(3)(C) provides for reports of incidents of which the 
manufacturer receives notice which involve fatalities which are alleged 
or proven to be caused by a possible defect. Thus, for such notices, we 
proposed to require an allegation of a defect. Otherwise, the 
manufacturer would be required to report incidents as to which no one 
believes that the manufacturer's product contributed to the death or 
injury; e.g., a fatal crash due to high speed or drunk driving. 
However, an allegation of defect would not have to identify the 
specific component or system that allegedly led to the incident.
    In the NPRM, we addressed the suggestion by some manufacturers that 
the allegation that a vehicle component is involved should have to be 
confirmed before an incident would have to be reported. We rejected 
this suggestion, since the litigation process is lengthy, and it may be 
months or years before the involvement of a component is confirmed, if 
at all. The vast majority of cases settle without findings and of those 
that do not, many may not identify the defective component in jury 
resolutions. Also, the earlier that information arrives at the agency, 
the earlier we will be able to determine whether a formal investigation 
needs to be opened.
    We also addressed the suggestion by some manufacturers that the 
reportable incidents be limited to failures of or problems with certain 
vehicle systems. As discussed in the preamble to the NPRM and below, we 
believe that this approach is appropriate for certain types of 
information. However, while deaths and injuries are relatively rare, 
they are so significant that we want our information to be as complete 
as possible. Therefore, we proposed to require reporting of all deaths 
and injuries in the United States based on claims and notices, 
regardless of the implicated components.
    Section 30166(m)(3)(A) refers to claims ``derived from foreign and 
domestic sources.'' In the same vein, in addition to incidents in the 
United States, Section 30166(m)(3)(C) refers to the reporting of 
certain incidents of which the manufacturer receives actual notice that 
occur in a foreign country, when the vehicle or equipment is identical 
or substantially similar to products offered for sale in the United 
States. Thus, the TREAD Act reflects Congressional intent that 
manufacturers submit information involving foreign deaths. In an effort 
to minimize the burdens associated with gathering information about 
incidents in foreign countries simply involving notice, in this phase 
of rulemaking we proposed to require only reporting of such claims 
involving fatalities occurring in a foreign country. See, for example, 
proposed Section 579.21(b)(1). We did not propose to require reports 
about incidents in foreign countries that resulted in non-fatal 
injuries. In light of the anticipated robustness of the domestic data, 
we did not believe that our early warning capabilities would be 
adversely affected. We recognize that the final rule will require 
manufacturers including their subsidiaries and affiliates to review 
foreign information bases, but believe the seriousness of fatalities 
associated with potential defects warrants this requirement. No 
comments objected to the proposal to report on claims involving death 
outside the United States, and we are adopting the proposed provisions.

H. Identical or Substantially Similar Motor Vehicles or Equipment.

    Under Section 30166(m)(3)(C), manufacturers of vehicles or 
equipment must report:

    * * * incidents of which the manufacturer receives actual notice 
which involve fatalities or serious injuries which are alleged or 
proven to have been caused by a possible defect in such 
manufacturer's motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment * * * in a 
foreign country when the possible defect is in a motor vehicle or 
motor vehicle equipment that is identical or substantially similar 
to a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment offered for sale in 
the United States. (emphasis added)

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble to the NPRM, we conclude 
that ``identical'' vehicles and equipment are at least substantially 
similar, and therefore there is no need to define that term. There were 
no comments in response to this proposal, and we are adopting it here.
1. Substantially Similar Motor Vehicles
    We expect that there will be a limited number of reports involving 
substantially similar vehicles because the question only arises in the 
context of reporting claims for deaths occurring outside the United 
States. Our communications with manufacturers lead us to conclude that 
such claims are far fewer in foreign countries than in the United 
States. Thus, the burden associated with reporting such claims should 
not be large.
    In the Foreign Defect Reporting NPRM, we discussed at length the 
issue of ``substantially similar motor vehicles'' and proposed that 
motor vehicles would be substantially similar to each other if one or 
more of five criteria were met. See 66 FR 51907 at 911-913. We 
tentatively determined that four of these criteria would be appropriate 
for Early Warning Reporting as well, and incorporated our views on 
these criteria by reference in the NPRM. See 66 FR 66190 at 199-200. 
The fifth criterion, relating to safety recall campaigns was 
inappropriate for early warning purposes where no campaign had been 
conducted, and was not proposed. Instead, we developed a new criterion, 
that a vehicle uses the same vehicle platform as a vehicle sold in the 
United States. Thus, we proposed that motor vehicles would be 
substantially similar for early warning purposes, as follows:

    (1) A motor vehicle sold or in use outside the United States is 
identical or substantially

[[Page 45842]]

similar to a motor vehicle sold or offered for sale in the United 
States if--
    (i) Such a vehicle has been sold in Canada or has been certified 
as complying with the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards;
    (ii) Such a vehicle is listed in Appendix A to part 593 of this 
chapter or determined to be eligible for importation into the United 
States in any agency decision issued between amendments to Appendix 
A to part 593;
    (iii) Such a vehicle is manufactured in the United States for 
sale in a foreign country;
    (iv) Such a vehicle is a counterpart of a vehicle sold or 
offered for sale in the United States; or
    (v) Such a vehicle uses the same vehicle platform as a vehicle 
sold or offered for sale in the United States.

    As noted above, our approach addressed both identical and 
substantially similar motor vehicles of all types and sizes ranging 
from small motorcycles to heavy trucks and trailers. It included five 
alternate criteria. No one alone was sufficient. Some were more 
straightforward and required less factual information than others. Some 
would apply more broadly than others. At least one might not apply to 
certain types of vehicles. Collectively, they would cover the range of 
vehicles and extend coverage beyond identical vehicles to a range of 
substantially similar vehicles.
    The first three criteria are self-explanatory and are addressed in 
the Foreign Defect Reporting NPRM. With respect to the fourth 
criterion, the preamble of that NPRM did not directly explain what we 
meant by a ``counterpart'' vehicle. However, by example, a discussion 
appearing on page 51912 provided an explanation of what, in our view, 
would be counterpart vehicles: ``An example would be Ford Explorers 
assembled outside the United States, such as those assembled in 
Venezuela.'' We added that ``We would appreciate comments on whether 
this latter class of vehicles needs to be defined with greater 
specificity,'' warning that that ``in our view the term substantially 
similar sweeps with a broad brush and is not to be defeated by persons 
bent on finding or inventing distinctions to evade reporting.'' We 
proposed a definition of ``counterpart vehicle'' for early warning: ``a 
vehicle made in a foreign country that is equivalent to one made in the 
United States except that it may have a different name, labeling, 
driver side restraints, lighting or wheels/tires, or metric system 
measurements.'' See 66 FR 66200.
    As for the fifth criterion, we tentatively concluded that platform-
based reporting would be consistent with the breadth of early warning 
reporting, yet specific enough to provide adequate direction to 
manufacturers. An example would be the Cadillac Catera, which used the 
same vehicle platform as the Opel Omega, or the Jaguar S-Class, which 
shares a platform with the Lincoln LS. We specifically requested 
comment on our view that foreign and U.S. vehicles would be 
substantially similar for reporting under Section 30166(m) if they 
shared a platform. We did not propose a definition for ``platform.'' We 
invited commenters to suggest a definition if they believed that a 
definition of this term was necessary. No commenter suggested a 
definition.
    Nissan, AIAM, the Alliance, and GM provided their views on the 
issue of how to define ``substantially similar.'' The Alliance 
commented that ``substantially similar'' is relevant only for 
identifying vehicles for which fatalities must be tracked and reported 
on a world-wide basis, and concluded that the definition proposed is 
overly-inclusive of vehicles that have no nexus to the United States. 
In its view, only a single definition is needed, and the most 
appropriate definition is one based on vehicle platform, category (v). 
To that, it would add that the vehicle must also have the same body 
shell, except for the number of doors. Thus, the Alliance would define 
a substantially similar vehicle as one that ``uses the same platform 
and body shell (except for the number of doors) as a vehicle sold or 
offered for sale in the United States.'' Alliance members Nissan and GM 
agreed with the Alliance comment and supported a platform-based 
approach.
    The Alliance commented further that, if NHTSA adopted the 
Alliance's modified definition of category (v), categories (i) and 
(iii) would be redundant.
    NHTSA disagrees with the Alliance and supporting comments. In our 
view, such a definition would be under-inclusive. A platform-based 
definition alone falls short for several reasons. First, other criteria 
are more certain in their application (when applicable). They do not 
depend on the meaning of the word ``platform.'' While the term platform 
is commonly used for some types of light and medium-heavy vehicles, it 
does not have a universal accepted definition. The fact that the 
Alliance suggested a single platform-based criterion yet failed to 
respond to our request for a definition suggests that it recognizes the 
difficulty of prescribing a universal definition.
    In addition, the term platform does not apply to numerous types of 
vehicles. For example, because motorcycles are not built on what are 
commonly called platforms as the term is used with light and some 
medium-heavy vehicles, categories (i) and (iii) would not be redundant, 
contrary to the assertions of the Alliance. In any event, to the extent 
they are redundant, they would not add to the ``inclusiveness'' of the 
definition.
    Category (i) specifies that a vehicle sold or in use outside the 
United States will be deemed substantially similar to one sold in the 
United States if it has been sold in Canada or has been certified as 
complying with the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS). For 
example, a Ford Expedition certified as complying with the CMVSS and 
used in Saudi Arabia is substantially similar to a Ford Expedition sold 
in the United States, because of the near identicality of the CMVSS 
with the FMVSS. Category (iii) specifies that a vehicle sold or in use 
outside the United States will be deemed substantially similar to one 
sold in the United States if it is manufactured in the United States 
for sale in a foreign country. This is because (to the best of our 
knowledge, and the comments did not show otherwise) there are no makes 
and models of motor vehicles manufactured in the United States and sold 
outside the United States that are not also sold in the United States.
    As for category (ii) vehicles, the Alliance incorporated by 
reference its comments on ``substantially similar'' submitted in 
response to the Foreign Defect NPRM. In those comments, the Alliance 
stated that reliance on the list of ``gray market'' vehicles in 
Appendix A of Part 593 was not appropriate as an automatic definition 
of ``substantially similar'' because the sole purpose of the Appendix 
is to list the foreign vehicles that can be readily modified to comply 
with the FMVSS; ``Using this list to cover vehicles outside the U.S. 
that are not modified is not appropriate.'' On the contrary, we find it 
most appropriate. In order to be listed in the Appendix, NHTSA is 
required to have decided that a gray market vehicle is eligible for 
importation into the United States on one of two bases. The first 
basis, which covers all but a few vehicles on the list, is that the 
vehicle is ``substantially similar to a motor vehicle originally 
manufactured for import into and sale in the United States.'' See 49 
U.S.C. 30141(a)(1)(A)(i). These vehicles are listed in the VSA or VSP 
columns of Appendix A. If there is no substantially similar vehicle, 
NHTSA must decide that the safety features of the vehicle comply, or 
are capable of being modified to comply, with the FMVSS. These approved 
vehicles are listed in the VCP column of the Appendix. Because these 
vehicles are not

[[Page 45843]]

considered ``substantially similar'' within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 
30141(a)(1)(A)(i), we are modifying category (ii) to clarify that a 
substantially similar vehicle ``is listed in the VSP or VSA columns of 
Appendix A to part 593'' (note that each relevant vehicle decision 
notice under Part 593 amends Appendix A even though the revised 
Appendix is published only once a year). Reference to the Part 593 list 
should, in fact, make it easier for a manufacturer to determine if a 
vehicle that is the subject of a foreign death claim is substantially 
similar to one sold in the United States; if it is listed as a VSP or a 
VSA, the manufacturer will not have to consider whether the vehicle 
qualifies under another category.
    In sum, our intent in categories (i) through (iii) is to capture 
vehicles that are identical or substantially similar in significant 
respects of design and safety-related parts to vehicles that are sold 
in the United States.
    We next consider the qualifying phrase ``and body shell (except for 
the number of doors)'' in the Alliance's suggested platform-based 
definition of substantially similar vehicle. According to Automotive 
News, ``a platform is typically defined as the basic structure of a 
vehicle. Different vehicles built off the same platform commonly share 
several structural elements, such as the floorpan, door pillars, and 
subframes.'' A commonly-used platform in recent production has been the 
``C/K'' series upon which GM has built numerous models including the 
Cadillac Escalade, the Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, and Tahoe, and 
the GMC Sierra, Suburban, Yukon/Denali and Yukon XL vehicles (Source: 
2000 Market Data Book, Automotive News, May 2000, p. 20; no similar 
information provided in 2001 or 2002 editions of Market Data Book). The 
Silverado and Sierra vehicles are pickup trucks, with bodies intended 
primarily for carrying cargo. The other models are sport utility 
vehicles (SUVs) and have bodies intended primarily for carrying 
passengers. Thus, there is no common body shell though the platform is 
common. Historically, both pickup truck and SUV vehicles built on this 
GM platform have many common components such as brakes and airbags. 
Most recalls involving the pickups have also covered the SUVs. Yet, C/K 
SUV vehicles would not be substantially similar to the C/K pickup 
trucks under the Alliance's restrictive criterion because they do not 
have the same bodies. However, as noted in Automotive World (September 
1999), a platform includes the majority of the floor pan and engine 
compartment and is a unit that has no impact on the vehicle's outer 
skin. In view of the above we are adopting, as a criterion, category 
(v) as proposed. For clarity, we are adopting the following definition 
of ``platform,'' as

    the basic structure of a vehicle including, but not limited to, 
the majority of the floorpan or undercarriage, and elements of the 
engine compartment. The term includes a structure that a 
manufacturer designates as a platform. A group of vehicles sharing a 
common structure or chassis shall be considered to have a common 
platform regardless of whether such vehicles are of the same type, 
are of the same make, or are sold by the same manufacturer.

    Examples of vehicles sharing a common platform are the Chrysler 
Group's Plymouth, Dodge, and Chrysler minivans, the Volkswagen Golf and 
Beetle and Audi A3 and TT passenger cars, and Toyota Camry vehicles 
(including Toyota Camry and Avalon passenger cars, Toyota Sienna 
minivans, Toyota Highlander SUVs, Lexus ES 300 passenger cars, and 
Lexus RX 300 SUVs).
    TMA pointed out that manufacturers of medium-heavy vehicles, buses, 
and trailers generally do not use the term ``platform'' to describe 
their products. Nor do manufacturers of motorcycles. The terminology 
used by manufacturers is not determinative in this context. In addition 
to reporting on the basis of a structure that a manufacturer designates 
as a platform, we expect these manufacturers to report foreign deaths 
involving vehicles built with a structure similar to those used in the 
United States. To guard against possible underreporting of such 
incidents, we are including the word ``chassis'' in the definition of 
``platform'' in this rule.
    We note that category (v) will have an extraterritorial 
application. For example, we understand that Volkswagen uses a common 
platform for some of its range of Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Skoda 
passenger cars. Although the latter two marques are not certified for 
sale in the United States, some models may be ``substantially similar'' 
to Volkswagen and Audi models built on a common platform and sold in 
the United States.
    As for category (iv), the Alliance stated that it did not know what 
it means for a vehicle to be ``equivalent'' to one manufactured for 
sale in the United States; two vehicles could be dissimilar in the 
structural and performance attributes that should matter for reporting 
requirements. AIAM had a similar criticism of category (iv), and urged 
NHTSA to adopt a ``simple, objective definition.'' We have reviewed 
these comments, and believe that any vehicle that might qualify for 
this category would also qualify under at least one of the other four 
categories that we are adopting. The final rule, then, omits proposed 
category (iv) (proposed category (v) becomes (iv) under the final 
rule).
    If a manufacturer has ceased to export any certified vehicles to 
the United States (such as Alfa Romeo), its early warning reporting 
obligations will also cease after ten years (i.e., assuming that Alfa 
Romeo exported no certified vehicles to the United States after the 
1995 model year, its early warning reporting obligation would terminate 
in 2005).
2. Substantially Similar Motor Vehicle Equipment Other Than Tires
    We also proposed that:

    An item of motor vehicle equipment sold or in use outside the 
United States is identical or substantially similar to equipment 
sold or offered for sale in the United States if such equipment and 
the equipment sold or offered for sale in the United States have one 
or more components or systems that are the same, regardless of 
whether the part numbers are identical.

    We commented in the preamble to the NPRM that the breadth provided 
by this definition seemed necessary given the nature of claims, which 
often do not identify particular problematic components. Thus, we would 
regard foreign child restraint systems as substantially similar (if not 
identical) to U.S. child restraint systems if they incorporate one or 
more parts that are used in models of child restraints offered for sale 
in the U.S., regardless of whether the restraints are designed for 
children of different sizes than those sold in the U.S. and regardless 
of whether they share the same model number or name. For example, if 
buckles, tether hooks, anchorages, or straps are common throughout a 
manufacturer's range of models, the child restraints would be 
substantially similar even though the buckles, hooks, anchorages, or 
straps might be used on a variety of add-on, backless, belt 
positioning, rear-facing or booster seats produced by the manufacturer.
    In light of the foregoing, we requested comments on the appropriate 
formulation of test(s) for determining whether foreign motor vehicle 
equipment is substantially similar to U.S. equipment.
    JPMA generally supported the proposed definition but asked that the 
preamble and the final rule make clear that ``the reporting requirement 
applies only when the same component or system that gave rise or 
contributed to the fatality is used in foreign and U.S. models 
manufactured by that

[[Page 45844]]

manufacturer.'' Otherwise, the definition would give rise to two 
problems. We shall discuss each asserted problem separately.
    The first problem as JMPA sees it is that ``absent clarification, 
the reporting obligation could be construed to apply to foreign child 
restraints incorporating common components with U.S. child restraints 
manufactured by another, unrelated manufacturer with whom the foreign 
manufacturer shares a supplier.'' JPMA observes that ``Since the 
manufacturer of the foreign child restraint may not even know that the 
model shares components with U.S. models manufactured by unrelated 
companies, it cannot be NHTSA's intention to hold manufacturers 
responsible for information they do not possess.'' That is correct.
    The second problem, according to JPMA, is that

without clarification that a report is required only when a fatality 
is associated with the same component as one used on a model sold by 
that manufacturer in the U.S., the reporting requirement could 
result in fatality reports that have no reasonable chance of 
predicting possible defect trends in the U.S. because they involve 
components that are not common to U.S. models.

    JPMA thus raises the possibility that a manufacturer will report a 
fatality attributable to a component other than one that makes two 
child restraint systems ``identical or substantially similar.''
    In this situation, we would read the word ``equipment'' both as the 
completed item of motor vehicle equipment and as each individual 
component that comprises the item. The statute provides for a report 
``when the possible defect is in * * * motor vehicle equipment that is 
identical or substantially similar * * *'' The child restraint systems 
are identical or substantially similar equipment because they share a 
common component. We will not relieve the manufacturer of reporting 
because the claim may not identify the problematic component; the 
identification of the component will result in delay and may be 
disputed. We have decided, however, that a claim would not have to be 
reported if it specifically identifies a non-common component as the 
defect. Although this issue was raised by an equipment manufacturer, it 
applies equally to vehicles. Thus, new Section 579.28(g) applies to all 
manufacturers.
    MIC commented that, ``as proposed, equipment that has one or more 
components or systems that are the same regardless of whether the part 
numbers are identical is considered substantially similar.'' It asked 
``if the only commonality is a single type of fastener that neither 
failed nor contributed to the incident, are the components or equipment 
substantially similar? It would be our view that they are not.'' For 
the reasons expressed in the paragraph above, the equipment 
incorporating the fasteners would be substantially similar for early 
warning reporting unless the claim specifically identified a non-common 
component as the source of the failure.
    MEMA stated that the definition should not only be component or 
system specific, but application specific as well. It cited a remark in 
the Foreign Defect NPRM preamble to the effect that a bolt with a given 
part number may perform in substantially different ways depending on 
how and where it is used, as well as citing a comment by Breed to the 
ANPRM that a component may be used in a variety of applications but 
fail in only one. MEMA recommended adopting application language to the 
definition:

    An item of motor vehicle equipment sold or in use outside the 
United States is identical or substantially similar to equipment 
sold or offered for sale in the United States if such equipment and 
the equipment sold or offered for sale in the United States have one 
or more components or systems that are the same, and the component 
or system has the same application requirements in vehicles sold or 
offered for sale in the United States, regardless of whether the 
part numbers are identical.

    AIAM recommended as a definition ``equipment that is identical, 
except for labeling, markings, or such features as displayed metric vs. 
U.S. units of measure, and performs the same function in the respective 
vehicles.''
    The issue raised by MEMA and AIAM is analogous to that raised by 
JPMA, but instead of a defect occurring in a non-common component, it 
posits a defect occurring in a common component not used in a common 
manner. As such, it does not address the issue raised by JPMA. Further, 
it appears to restrict the definition to on-vehicle original and 
replacement equipment, and not to include equipment that is not part of 
a motor vehicle such as child restraints.
    If two items of equipment utilize the same component but that 
component is not used to perform the same function, the failure of the 
component in one context might have no bearing on the likelihood of its 
failure in the other context. However, it might not be clear at the 
time the claim is filed whether the component is performing the same 
function or not. Therefore, we are reluctant to add this exemption. We 
emphasize, however, that we expect to receive very few reports of 
claims from equipment manufacturers involving foreign deaths.
    We are therefore adopting as new Section 579.4(d)(2):

    An item of motor vehicle equipment sold or in use outside the 
United States is identical or substantially similar to equipment 
sold or offered for sale in the United States if such equipment and 
the equipment sold or offered for sale in the United States have one 
or more components or systems that are the same, and the component 
or system performs the same function in vehicles or equipment sold 
or offered for sale in the United States, regardless of whether the 
part numbers are identical.
3. Substantially Similar Tires
    We proposed that:

    A tire sold or in use outside the United States is substantially 
similar to a tire sold or offered for sale in the United States if 
it has the same model and size designation, or if it is identical in 
design except for the model name.

    RMA was the sole commenter on the proposed definition. In its 
opinion, NHTSA's definition would include tires that are, in fact, 
substantially different. It noted that two tires of the same tire line 
and with the same size designation could include tires constructed of 
different materials. One tire could have a casing made of steel carcass 
plies, while another's might be of fabric carcass plies. RMA argued 
that comparisons between these tires, for early warning reporting, 
would be meaningless, and stated that ``construction'' is the factor 
that would best aid in early warning. ``Construction'' to RMA means 
``the same number of plies and belts, ply and belt construction and 
materials, placement of components, and component materials.'' RMA 
proposed the following definition:

    A tire sold or in use outside the United States is substantially 
similar to a tire sold or offered for sale in the United States if 
it has the same size, speed rating, load index, load range (for 
light truck tires) and construction irrespective of plant of 
manufacture or tire line name.

    NHTSA has decided to follow RMA's recommendation in part. We are 
integrating the definition of ``construction'' into the text, so that 
the regulation (Section 579.4(d)) reads as follows:

    (3) A tire sold or in use outside the United States is 
substantially similar to a tire sold or offered for sale in the 
United States if it has the same size, speed rating, load index, 
load range, number of plies and belts, and similar ply and belt 
construction and materials, placement of components, and component

[[Page 45845]]

materials, irrespective of plant of manufacture or tire line name.

    We have added the word ``similar'' before ``ply and belt 
construction and materials'' to assure that minor differences in 
dimensions, construction, or materials would not allow tire 
manufacturers to avoid reporting of foreign claims involving deaths.

I. Claims Involving Property Damage

    Section 30166(m)(3)(A)(i) provides for reporting of ``aggregate 
statistical data on property damage'' from alleged defects in the 
manufacturer's products.
1. Definition of ``property damage''
    In the preamble to the NPRM, we discussed the proposed definitions 
of property damage recommended by commenters on the ANPRM. On the basis 
of our own review and these comments, we proposed to require only 
reporting of claims information and not reporting of incidents 
involving only property damage of which a manufacturer receives notice. 
See 66 FR 66200.
    For purposes of this rule, we proposed that property damage means 
``physical injury to tangible property.'' Our proposed definition of 
``property damage claim'' would include damage to the vehicle or other 
tangible property, but exclude equipment failure and matters solely 
involving warranty repairs. For example, if the brakes failed and there 
were no physical consequences other than the need to repair the brake 
system, there would be no property damage. If there was a brake failure 
and the vehicle hit an object, there could be property damage to the 
vehicle or object or both. Accordingly, ``property damage claim'' would 
mean:

    A claim for property damage, excluding that part of a claim, if 
any, pertaining solely to damage to a component or system of a 
vehicle or an item of equipment itself based on the alleged failure 
or malfunction of the component, system, or item, and further 
excluding matters addressed under warranty.

    Comments were submitted by the Alliance, Nissan, VW, AIAM, the 
JPMA, RMA, TMA, Spartan, Utilimaster, and CU.
    Nissan stated that the proposed definition of property damage claim 
was overly inclusive and potentially difficult to understand. The 
comment argued that the proposed definition did not exclude claims 
pertaining solely to damage to a component or system of a vehicle based 
on the alleged failure. Similarly, Spartan recommended that the 
category be redefined to exclude allegations of simple failure or 
breakage of a component (such as mechanical breakdown typically covered 
by a manufacturer's warranty), since such incidents would likely be 
picked up under other categories. Nissan's comment also noted that the 
proposed definition does not address damage to one system caused by 
another system under normal use, and whether or not the damage occurred 
within the warranty period. The company recommended that the proposed 
definition of ``property damage claim'' be modified to read: ``a claim 
that a part, component or system failure led to crash damage or body 
damage to a vehicle or damage to the property of a third party.''
    We do not understand Nissan's assertion that the proposed 
definition does not exclude claims pertaining solely to damage to a 
component or system of a vehicle based on its alleged failure or 
Spartan's suggestion that such matters be excluded, because we believe 
that they are excluded. Nissan also commented that the proposed 
definition does not address damage to one system caused by another 
system under normal use, but it does. Damage is excluded from property 
damage claims if the damaged component, system, or equipment item has 
damaged itself, but not beyond that.
    CU expressed concern that a loophole in the reporting requirement 
will be created if the definition of property damage does not include 
damage to the vehicle component itself. For example, if the brakes 
failed after the vehicle warranty had expired and there is no physical 
damage to the vehicle other than the need to repair the brakes, NHTSA 
would have no way of knowing about this incident. With regard to CU's 
comment, the agency notes that the NPRM stated its intention to include 
in the definition of property damage ``damage to the vehicle or other 
tangible property, but exclude equipment failure and matters solely 
involving warranty repairs.'' See p. 66201. The preamble elaborated on 
this by stating: ``For example, if the brakes failed and there were no 
physical consequences other than the need to repair the brake system, 
there would be no property damage.'' Id. The ``loophole'' identified by 
CU was therefore an intentional part of the proposed rule, which 
assures that property damage claims are not diluted by matters 
involving worn out parts without other consequences. Of course, these 
matters would normally be reported to us as complaints, and sometimes 
as warranty claims.
    Spartan recommended that the category be limited to incidents 
involving a collision, tire failure, or fire occurring in the United 
States in which a defect is alleged in one of the critical safety 
systems (brakes, steering, occupant restraint, fuel) and that the 
reporting requirement should apply only to claims submitted to the 
manufacturer in writing. Spartan provided no rationale for its 
recommendation that the category should be limited to the number of 
such incidents involving a limited number of safety-related systems. 
For each of the covered vehicle classes, the NPRM listed separate 
systems and components the alleged failure of which would trigger the 
reporting requirements. As the agency explained, in selecting these 
systems and components, it ``attempted to identify, for each category 
of vehicle, for child restraint systems, and for tires, those systems 
and components whose failures are most likely to lead to safety 
recalls.'' See preamble at p. 66207. Spartan has not explained why this 
approach should be abandoned in favor of one that would require, for 
all vehicle classes, reports on only brake, steering, occupant 
restraint, and fuel system failures. Finally, because the term 
``claim'' would be defined in the proposed rule as ``a written request 
or demand for relief,'' Spartan's recommendation that the reporting 
requirement should apply only to property damage claims submitted to 
the manufacturer in writing has already been addressed in the proposal.
    The Alliance recommended that the proposed definition of ``property 
damage'' be modified to read: ``(1) physical damage, including damage 
by fire, to tangible property of a third party caused by a collision or 
an alleged failure or malfunction of a component, system or item, or 
(2) body or fire damage to a vehicle caused by an alleged failure or 
malfunction of a component, system or item.''
    The Alliance's recommended changes would introduce elements of 
causation into determinations whether to report. This information might 
not be presented in a claim and, thus, the Alliance's formulation could 
result in under-reporting. See 66 FR 66195, 66199. Moreover, in the 
NPRM, the reporting requirement was based on the term ``property damage 
claim,'' which is defined separately from and incorporated the 
definition of ``property damage.'' Because the proposed definition of 
``property damage claim'' contains language linking the reportable 
claims to those alleging malfunctions of components or systems, or to 
specific events, it would be redundant if this qualification were also 
to be included in the definition of ``property damage,'' as the 
Alliance has proposed. Finally, if the Alliance's recommended changes 
were adopted, physical damage to the

[[Page 45846]]

property of a third party caused by means other than a collision or an 
alleged failure or malfunction of a component or system or to specific 
events, and physical damage to a vehicle, other than body or fire 
damage, would not be reportable. The Alliance provided no justification 
for the changes it recommended in the proposed definition or reasons 
why those limiting changes should be adopted. Moreover, it did not show 
how the changes would help effectuate the purposes of the early warning 
reporting rules.
    RMA stated that it did not object to the definition if it can be 
interpreted to mean ``* * * a claim for monetary compensation in excess 
of the value of the tire.'' Nevertheless, it urged NHTSA to adopt a 
separate definition for clarity, to read as follows:

    A claim for property damage for motor vehicle equipment means a 
claim for property damage, excluding that part of a claim, if any, 
pertaining solely to damage to the item of motor vehicle equipment 
itself, based on the alleged failure or malfunction of the item of 
motor vehicle equipment, and further excluding matters under 
warranty.

    RMA did not explain why a separate definition was needed. We note 
once more that the definition proposed in the NPRM would exclude claims 
pertaining solely to damage to an equipment item based on the alleged 
failure or malfunction of that item. Creating a separate definition for 
equipment items may increase the burden for manufacturers by requiring 
analysis of individual claims to ascertain whether they alleged the 
failure or malfunction of an equipment item itself, as opposed to the 
failure or malfunction of a ``component, system, or item.'' We further 
note that eliminating the reference to vehicle components and systems 
could increase the reporting burden on manufacturers by narrowing the 
scope of claims excluded by definition. In light of these 
circumstances, we do not believe that there is a need to separately 
define ``property damage claim'' for motor vehicle equipment items, and 
will retain the reference to vehicle components and systems within the 
definition we are adopting.
    The property damage information that we will require manufacturers 
to submit is limited to the number of claims involving a limited number 
of systems or components, fire, and rollover (to be discussed later). 
Thus, the information to be submitted will be ``aggregate statistical 
data.'' Therefore, we do not see a need for a separate regulatory 
definition of this term.
    Finally, as noted above, the proposed definition expressly excludes 
``matters addressed under warranty.'' Nissan faults the agency for 
failing to address whether or not the damage occurred within the 
warranty period. The reason for this exclusion was simple; it was to 
eliminate a burden that would amount to double counting. So long as the 
matter is covered by warranty (including an extended warranty or good 
will program conducted by the manufacturer, as addressed below), it 
will be subject to being reported to the agency as a warranty claim. If 
the incident leading to a claim occurs beyond the warranty period 
(including the terms of any applicable extended warranty or good will 
program), and thus is not covered by warranty, it must be reported as a 
property damage claim if the elements for such reporting are met.
    For the reasons discussed above, we are adopting the definition of 
``property damage claim'' that we proposed.
2. Reporting of Property Damage Claims; Whether To Establish Dollar-
Value Thresholds
    Unlike reporting of claims and notices of incidents involving 
deaths and injuries, which are required even in the absence of 
information identifying underlying systems or components, we will 
require reporting of property damage claims only when one or more 
specified vehicle components or systems has been identified as giving 
rise to the incident or damage, or there was a fire (originating in or 
from a vehicle or a substance that leaked from a vehicle) or rollover. 
We concluded that adding a category such as ``other'' would not provide 
us with usable information. These components and systems were selected 
based upon their connection to safety recalls in the past, as described 
in Section IV.N below. They vary depending on the type of vehicle or 
equipment that is the subject of the report.
    If the incident that allegedly led to the property damage also 
resulted in a death or injury, the manufacturer need only report the 
incident as one involving a death or injury, and it will not be 
required to report the incident under the property damage requirement. 
However, if several separate property damage claims are filed arising 
out of the same incident (e.g., because a vehicle damaged property 
owned by several individuals), each claim must be included in the 
report.
    Reports of property damage claims will be submitted in the same 
manner as the number of consumer complaints, warranty claims, and field 
reports, discussed later. The information will be reported separately 
for each make, model, and model year and would be submitted in 
electronic form, as discussed in Section VI below. Manufacturers are 
not required to submit documents reflecting the extent of the property 
damage or the details of the incident that allegedly led to the damage. 
(As discussed below, we can require the submission of such documents or 
information in a separate request if we decide that further detail is 
needed.)
    With respect to manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment, we 
proposed to require only manufacturers of tires to report property 
damage information, noting that it is extremely unlikely that a child 
restraint system would contribute to significant property damage.
    The preamble to the NPRM stated that the agency was proposing 
``that a vehicle manufacturer need not include in its report property 
damage claims that are for $1,000 or less, on the ground that this 
would exclude minor matters and reduce reporting burdens.'' See 
preamble at 66201. However, the proposed regulatory text in the NPRM 
did not include a dollar-value threshold for reporting. The NPRM 
requested comments on whether it is appropriate to establish such an 
exclusion, and if so, what the level should be. Id.
    The Alliance stated that there should be a threshold to filter 
claims. The comment stated that the threshold should be $2,500 to 
filter out the minor fender bender type accidents, and that NHTSA 
should periodically raise the threshold to consistently filter minor 
claims. AIAM also recommended a $2,500 threshold to exclude minor 
claims, and stated that NHTSA should consider periodic review of the 
threshold to account for inflation and other relevant changed 
circumstances. Volkswagen also supported a $2,500 threshold to exclude 
de minimis claims. Nissan stated that the threshold amount should be 
higher than $1,000.
    TMA stated that the threshold for reporting property damage claims 
needs to be related to the purchase price of the vehicle rather than a 
fixed price for all vehicles. The comment observed that a $1,000 
threshold would not be appropriate for medium and heavy-duty trucks, 
which often cost in excess of $100,000. The comment recommended a 
$5,000 threshold for these vehicles. The comment also recommended that 
the reporting threshold not be relegated to the preamble of the final 
rule, but instead be incorporated into the regulatory text.
    Utilimaster also stated that the proposed $1,000 threshold for the 
submission of property damage claims

[[Page 45847]]

``is too low to avoid sweeping in minor matters NHTSA seeks to avoid.'' 
The comment stated that the threshold should be raised to $5,000 to 
provide the agency with meaningful data on significant incidents. 
Spartan also recommended that a dollar threshold be set (at perhaps 
$2,500) to limit the reporting of minor claims.
    With respect to claims involving tires, the NPRM noted that 
``[t]ire manufacturers have historically kept records of all property 
damage claims, without regard for the amount of the claim, and that 
this information has proven to be very valuable in identifying 
potential tire defects.'' See preamble at p. 66201. As a consequence, 
the agency stated that it was ``proposing to require tire manufacturers 
to report all property damage claims, regardless of the amount of the 
claim.'' Id. As noted above, the RMA stated that it would not object to 
the proposed definition if it were interpreted to mean a claim for 
monetary compensation in excess of the value of the tire.
    AIAM commented that according to insurance industry data, 
approximately half of all physical loss payments by insurers are for 
$1,000 or less. After accounting for the common $500 deductible, the 
actual median damage loss is $1,500. Accordingly, AIAM recommended that 
NHTSA select a higher threshold, specifically $2,500, and that that 
threshold be stated in the definition of ``property damage claim.''
    After thoroughly considering the comments, we have concluded that 
we should not adopt any dollar-value threshold for the reporting of the 
number of property damage claims, and note that no such criterion is 
imposed by the TREAD Act. Although the final rule will result in a 
higher number of property damage claims being reported to the agency 
than there would have been under the proposed threshold of $1,000, 
manufacturers will be relieved of the burden to evaluate property 
damage claims to determine whether the dollar-value threshold had been 
met. This could entail a considerably greater commitment of resources 
than if the manufacturer were simply required to report the raw number 
of property damage claims it received. Many claims do not include a 
dollar value, so if a dollar-value threshold were established, the 
follow-up on and reporting of such claims or those that referred to 
damage in other than dollar terms would have to be addressed. This also 
resolves the knotty issues of whether we should establish different 
dollar-value thresholds for different types of vehicles such as 
motorcycles and heavy trucks, and how we should do so. However, we may 
revisit the issue in a future rulemaking.
    With regard to property damage claims involving tires, the RMA 
stated that it would not object to the proposed definition if it were 
interpreted to mean a claim for monetary compensation in excess of the 
value of the tire. The agency notes that under the proposed definition, 
a tire manufacturer would not be required to report a property damage 
claim relating solely to damage to a tire that is based on the alleged 
failure or malfunction of the tire. Moreover, any claim for damage to 
the tire itself is likely to be handled within the manufacturer's 
adjustment program, and as such, would not be separately reportable to 
the agency as a property damage claim.
    Tire manufacturers have historically kept records of all property 
damage claims, without regard for the amount of the claim, and this 
information has proven to be very valuable in identifying potential 
tire defects. For these reasons, we proposed, and will require, that 
tire manufacturers report all property damage claims, regardless of the 
amount of the claim.

J. Consumer Complaints

    We proposed to require submission of information about certain 
``consumer complaints'' as ``other data'' under Section 30166(m)(3)(B).
1. Definition of ``consumer complaint''
    In the NPRM we proposed a definition of ``consumer complaint'' that 
included relevant matters and did not overlap with our proposed 
definition of ``claim.'' We proposed to define ``consumer complaint'' 
as follows:

a communication of any kind made by a consumer (or other person) to 
a manufacturer expressing dissatisfaction with a product, or 
relating the unsatisfactory performance of a product, or any actual 
or potential defect in a product, or any event that allegedly was 
caused by any actual or potential defect in a product, but not 
including a claim of any kind or a notice involving a fatality or 
injury.

    We explained that the term ``a communication of any kind'' would 
primarily include communications that are written but it would also 
include oral complaints, such as made through a telephone call, that a 
manufacturer memorializes in a document, including an electronic 
information system. Our proposed definition would also include 
communications in which the owner of a vehicle or item of equipment 
that is subject to a defect or noncompliance recall asserted that the 
remedy failed to correct the defect or noncompliance.
    Our approach was to set forth a multifaceted definition of consumer 
complaint and then to limit reporting to safety-related aspects of 
vehicles, tires, and child restraint systems. The facets of the 
definition included expressions of dissatisfaction with a product or 
its performance, and an assertion of a defect or that an event was 
caused by a defect. Based on our past experience during defect 
investigations, we did not believe that it would be appropriate to 
simply require reporting of ``safety-related'' problems, since 
manufacturers often have a narrower view of what constitutes a safety-
related problem than we do. As we explained, we would reduce the 
likelihood of reporting consumer complaints about non-safety matters by 
listing the specific safety-related components and systems with respect 
to which complaints must be reported. Finally, the primary distinction 
between a ``consumer complaint'' and a ``claim'' is that the former 
would not seek monetary or other relief.
    Ten comments were submitted on the proposed definition of 
``consumer complaint.'' These were from AIAM, the Alliance, GM, CU, 
Volkswagen, Nissan, NADA, JPMA, Spartan, and Utilimaster. CU favored 
the proposed requirement for the collection of consumer complaint 
information. The remaining comments were either opposed to the 
collection of this category of information in its entirety, or opposed 
the collection of certain types of information within the proposed 
definition.
2. The Rationale for Requiring Reports of Consumer Complaints
    As we have explained, over the years, NHTSA's Office of Defects 
Investigation (ODI) has made productive use of consumer complaints to 
manufacturers in its investigations of alleged defects. The problem 
experience of owners or operators in the real-world use of their 
vehicles and equipment, as reflected in their communications to 
manufacturers, has indicated failures of components and systems that 
can have an impact on safety. While a given level of complaints 
regarding some components or systems may not indicate the existence of 
a defect, a higher level might. (This level would vary, depending on 
the component or system involved.) Because we have no way to measure 
directly, or to count, all failures in the field, the frequency of 
consumer complaints (which complement warranty claims and field 
reports) can provide valuable indications of possible safety problems 
warranting further investigation. Consumer complaints were discussed in 
the Congressional hearings that led to the TREAD Act. See,

[[Page 45848]]

e.g., Firestone Tire Recall: Hearing before the Subcommittee on 
Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Subcommittee 
on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Commerce, (H. 
Rpt.106-165; September 6, 2000) (Statement of Dr. Sue Bailey, 
Administrator, NHTSA).
    After reviewing the comments received on the ANPRM and assessing 
the value of consumer complaints to an early warning system, we 
proposed requiring manufacturers of 500 or more vehicles as well as all 
child restraint system manufacturers to provide aggregated consumer 
complaint information to us on a periodic basis, but not to require 
copies of such complaints. NHTSA relies heavily on consumer complaint 
information in initiating and conducting defect investigations. More 
than 75 percent of the investigations conducted by ODI are opened on 
the basis of complaints that we receive from individual consumers, or 
that are furnished to us by interested third parties, such as consumer 
groups, police departments, State vehicle inspectors, and school bus 
and other fleets.
    After it opens investigations, ODI routinely asks manufacturers to 
provide information and copies of consumer complaints on the ``subject 
defect;'' also, ODI often asks manufacturers to update complaint 
information during the course of the investigation. This sort of 
information is very valuable in evaluating whether a defect related to 
motor vehicle safety exists in a given vehicle or equipment item. Since 
our first litigated defects enforcement case, United States v. General 
Motors Corp., 518 F.2d 420, 438 (D.C. Cir. 1975), which held that a 
prima facie case of defect can be made by showing a significant, ``non 
de minimis number'' of failures of a critical part that is expected to 
last for the life of the vehicle, the federal courts have recognized 
that consumer complaints can be a valuable source of evidence of the 
existence of a safety-related defect in motor vehicles.
    ODI's experience has shown that consumers are more likely to report 
a problem to the manufacturer than to NHTSA. Historically, the number 
of consumer complaints to the manufacturer (either directly or through 
dealers) that NHTSA obtains after opening a defect investigation 
usually exceeds by a substantial amount the number of complaints that 
NHTSA had received directly from consumers prior to opening the 
investigation. Also, many consumers do not complain to NHTSA until 
after they have complained (unsuccessfully) to the manufacturer. 
Although there is no single threshold of consumer complaints about a 
particular component or system that will automatically trigger a defect 
investigation, it is likely that if it were aware of a relatively large 
number of consumer complaints to a manufacturer, ODI might well open 
investigations earlier. To the extent that such an investigation led to 
a recall, opening it earlier would likely have led to corrective action 
at an earlier date and the avoidance of some additional incidents.
    Consumer complaints to child restraint system manufacturers have 
also consistently far outnumbered those to NHTSA about particular 
problems. For example, in November 1996, ODI opened an investigation 
into the breakage of harness release buttons in certain infant car 
seats. ODI had received four consumer complaints when it opened the 
investigation. After writing to the manufacturer and requesting 
complaint information, ODI learned that the company had received 328 
complaints about the harness release button in those seats. Similarly, 
in May 1998, ODI opened an investigation of harness buckle failure in 
infant car seats on the basis of two consumer complaints. After writing 
to the manufacturer, ODI learned in July 1998, only two months later, 
that the company had received 92 complaints. Both of these 
investigations led to corrective action by the manufacturers.
    We believe that NHTSA's ability to identify potential defects in a 
timely manner, and to identify and understand emerging defect trends, 
would be greatly strengthened if the agency were to receive information 
about consumer complaints relatively shortly after the manufacturer 
does. At present, ODI's decisions as to which products should be 
investigated are often based on limited information from consumers.
    We did not propose to require tire manufacturers to report the 
number of consumer complaints. We had concluded, from our experience 
with conducting tire investigations, that consumer complaints to tire 
manufacturers generally do not contain useful information for analysis 
of the alleged problem. For example, tire complaints do not 
consistently have full information describing the tire model, size, and 
date of manufacture. Without this identification, an analysis of 
failure rates and trends is not possible. Far more useful for analysis 
of potential defect trends is the tire manufacturer's adjustment 
(warranty) and claims data. The adjustment and claims data contain 
complete identification of the tire make, line, plant, and date of 
production. We have received such data in response to information 
requests issued during our defect investigations and find that these 
data are far superior than that contained in complaints.
    We therefore proposed to require larger motor vehicle 
manufacturers, and all child restraint system manufacturers, to report 
the number of consumer complaints that the manufacturers have received 
about designated components and systems of their vehicles or equipment 
during each reporting period. Vehicle manufacturers would also report 
complaints about fire. The designated components and systems would be 
the same as those on which property damage claims are reported.
    We did not propose to require reporting of consumer complaints from 
outside the United States at this time. We observed that there are a 
number of issues related to foreign complaints, such as manufacturer 
review of potentially large numbers of complaints in foreign languages 
and NHTSA follow-up use, which dictate against requiring reporting, at 
least for the present.
    In commenting on the NPRM, a number of commenters repeated their 
comments on the ANPRM, which we had previously rejected. AIAM expressed 
the opinion that consumer complaints are not valuable; i.e., that they 
should be excluded from the reporting rule on the basis that they do 
not provide objective information regarding vehicle safety performance 
and that they would be expected to provide little, if any, useful 
information for an early warning reporting system. The organization 
contended that the overwhelming majority of the complaints received by 
its members do not relate to safety information, and that the need to 
filter this material to provide the agency with safety-related 
information would place an unreasonable burden on manufacturers. The 
Alliance also questioned the value of consumer complaints in 
identifying a defect trend. It contended that consumer complaints are 
not technically reliable because they are based on the subjective 
observation of a problem by a consumer, and are collected by personnel 
who lack sufficient technical training or knowledge to translate the 
information provided by consumers into meaningful or accurate component 
or system codes.
    Several manufacturers offered similar comments. Volkswagen 
questioned the reliability of consumer complaints to establish the 
existence of a defect trend. The comment urged the agency to exercise 
caution in drawing any conclusions from the raw, unfiltered consumer 
complaint numbers that

[[Page 45849]]

manufacturers would be required to provide under the proposed rule, 
especially since manufacturers would not be given the opportunity to 
rebut those numbers. Nissan expressed the opinion that consumer 
complaints are often subjective, not technically precise, and difficult 
to code for the purpose of providing the agency with meaningful early 
warning information because they are generally not linked to 
identifiable components or systems, and are not received by technical 
personnel. Spartan observed that consumer complaints could cover a 
large volume of material that does not affect safety, and are often of 
questionable validity, requiring extensive screening to identify useful 
information at a considerable expense to the manufacturers. The comment 
contended that what useful information there is in this category is 
likely to overlap one of the other reporting categories.
    The comments that questioned the value of consumer complaints in 
identifying potential defect trends did not address the justifications 
set forth in the NPRM that we have summarized above. Significantly, 
none of the comments on the NPRM refuted the rationale in the NPRM. As 
far as the agency is concerned, the utility of consumer complaints for 
early warning purposes is not diminished by the fact that they are 
based on the observations of vehicle users as opposed to persons with 
technical training or experience. Such observations are often what 
first alerts the agency to the possible existence of a safety-related 
defect, especially when warranty coverage is not or no longer 
available. As such, consumer complaints about safety-related systems 
and components constitute an essential part of the proposed early 
warning reporting system. If the agency were to overlook consumer 
complaints in anticipation of receiving a more technically developed 
analysis of a potential safety problem from a manufacturer, an entire 
mechanism for early warning would be eliminated.
    NADA asserted that NHTSA has no need to obtain consumer complaint 
information from manufacturers as it has direct access to this kind of 
information from complaints made to the agency's Website and to the 
Auto Safety Hotline. AIAM also noted that NHTSA already receives 
consumer complaint information as militating against the need for 
manufacturers to submit this information to the agency. AIAM contended 
that the agency's database is a better source of early warning 
information than the manufacturer's database because consumers are less 
likely to complain to NHTSA about non-safety-related problems. GM 
commented that if NHTSA were to eliminate the need for manufacturers to 
report on consumer complaints, it could still obtain this information 
from vehicle owner's questionnaires (VOQs) that are submitted to the 
agency.
    As stated in the NPRM, ODI's experience has shown that consumers 
are more likely to report a problem to the manufacturer than to NHTSA, 
and that many consumers do not complain to NHTSA until after they have 
complained unsuccessfully to the manufacturer. See NPRM at p. 66203. 
The NPRM further noted that we have observed that the number of 
consumer complaints to the manufacturer usually exceeds by a 
substantial margin the number of complaints made directly to the agency 
before the investigation is opened. Id. The agency observed in the NPRM 
that its ``ability to identify potential defects in a timely manner, 
and to identify and understand emerging defect trends, would be greatly 
strengthened if the agency were to receive information about consumer 
complaints relatively shortly after the manufacturer does.'' Id. For 
these reasons, although the agency will continue to receive complaints 
through the agency's website and the Auto Safety Hotline, manufacturer 
complaint data will provide a valuable additional tool for assessing 
whether a potential safety-related defect exists.
    Other comments questioned the need for consumer complaints to be 
separately reported to the agency, on the basis that the information in 
this category would duplicate that in other categories manufacturers 
would be obligated to report. GM contended that because the proposed 
rules define the term ``claim'' so broadly, requiring the separate 
reporting of consumer complaints is unnecessary, and increases the 
chances of duplicate reporting. GM observed that a single incident 
could involve a consumer complaint, a warranty claim, and a lawsuit, 
all of which would be required to be reported under the proposed rule. 
The Alliance also observed that the consumer complaint database is 
likely to have redundancies with other information in other databases. 
As a consequence, the comment suggested the agency could establish the 
early warning rule without requiring the reporting of consumer 
complaint information, and adopt this requirement at a later date if 
still had a need for the information.
    GM's contention about the overlapping breadth of the definition of 
``claim'' is erroneous. In both the NPRM and the final rule a ``claim'' 
is limited to a written communication seeking some form of relief from 
the manufacturer. Thus, a ``claim'' is considerably narrower than the 
proposed definition of ``consumer complaint,'' which would encompass 
``a communication of any kind * * * expressing dissatisfaction with a 
product, or relating the unsatisfactory performance of a product, or 
any actual or potential defect in a product, or any event that 
allegedly was caused by any actual or potential defect in a product.'' 
Moreover, the proposed definition explicitly excluded claims, to avoid 
double counting.
    The agency is unwilling to adopt the recommendation that the 
complaint must allege a safety-related defect, as this would unduly 
limit the reporting of consumer complaint information that NHTSA is 
seeking to collect through the early warning reporting rule. As stated 
in the NPRM, based on its past experience with defect investigations, 
the agency does not ``believe that would be appropriate to simply 
require reporting of `safety-related' problems, since manufacturers 
often have a much more narrow view of what constitutes a safety-related 
problem that we do.'' See preamble at 66202. If the term ``consumer 
complaint'' were limited to complaints specifically alleging a safety-
related defect, communications expressing dissatisfaction with a 
product or relating that the product did not perform in a satisfactory 
manner would not necessarily be reported to the agency. Such 
communications may be equally indicative of a potential safety-related 
defect as ones specifically alleging the existence of such a defect.
    If we were to adopt such a restrictive definition for the term 
``consumer complaint,'' we would deprive ourselves of information that 
could be of considerable value in identifying a defect trend. Moreover, 
by adopting such a definition, the process of reviewing consumer 
complaint information to respond to the reporting requirement would be 
transformed for manufacturers into little more than a search for 
specific phrases such as ``safety-related defect'' in the 
communications they receive, and equip them with the means to 
potentially evade the reporting of legitimate complaints. However, we 
note that reporting would only be required if the communication 
expressing dissatisfaction related to unsatisfactory performance, 
related to any actual or potential defect, or any event that allegedly 
was caused by any actual or potential defect in a product. Also, it

[[Page 45850]]

must relate to one of the reporting areas (e.g., service brakes). Thus, 
contrary to the suggestions of a commenter, consumer complaints on 
stain resistance alone are not to be reported.
    The Alliance and JPMA recommended that the proposed definition of 
``consumer complaint'' be changed to eliminate any reference to those 
expressing ``general dissatisfaction'' with a product. JPMA contended 
that including complaints such as these would distort the data because 
they would have to include everything from complaints about the shell 
or pad color, the comfort of the handle, stain resistance of the 
fabric, or other general consumer complaints that involve one of the 
reportable categories, but can have no possible bearing on a possible 
defect trend. The Alliance recommended that if the consumer complaint 
reporting requirement is retained, it should be limited to complaints 
addressing a problem with a motor vehicle. Similarly, Utilimaster asked 
the agency to clarify, either in the preamble of the final rule or in 
its regulatory text, that mere suggestions for product improvements, 
without reference to a current product deficiency, will not be 
considered reportable consumer complaints. The company noted that many 
of the consumer complaints that it reviews do not relate to safety 
issues or concerns, and that the submission of this type of information 
would ``clutter the agency's data bank with irrelevant material.''
    The thrust of these comments is unclear, as they appear to address, 
at least in substantial part, matters on which reporting would not have 
been required under the NPRM. As the agency noted in the NPRM, the fact 
that manufacturers would only need to report consumer complaints 
relating to specific safety-related components, systems or events 
(e.g., fire) will assure that only potential safety-related problems 
are included in numerical reports to the agency. See preamble at 66202. 
This does not include shell or pad color or similar matters. With 
regard to Utilimaster's comment, we note that the proposed definition 
of consumer complaint would not encompass communications suggesting a 
product improvement that do not refer to a product deficiency. For 
example, a communication that a third seat in a minivan should fold 
down as opposed to being capable of being removed would not have to be 
reported. Accordingly, there is no need to modify the proposed 
definition in response to that comment.
    GM and Nissan commented that if NHTSA were to require the 
submission of consumer complaint information, it should limit the 
reporting requirement to complaints that are made to the manufacturer's 
office designated to handle consumer complaints. Nissan observed that 
this would assure that manufacturers do not have to poll every employee 
on a quarterly basis who might have heard from a friend, neighbor or 
stranger about some dissatisfaction with a product that might fall 
within the proposed definition. GM contended that the proposed 
reporting requirement would be unworkable if it required a manufacturer 
to memorialize every consumer contact with any of its employees.
    The agency is accepting the recommendation by GM and Nissan that it 
limit the areas in which a manufacturer must search in ascertaining the 
number of complaints it has received. In our view, this includes 
communications addressed to the office designated in an owner's manual, 
written communications to the corporation that in the ordinary course 
are routed to the office that ordinarily processes complaints, oral 
communications to offices, such as consumer relations telephone lines, 
that ordinarily receive complaints, and electronic communications to 
the corporation's web site or to its general e-mail address/account 
that ordinarily receives complaints, and, of course, all complaints 
actually received by the office that handles such complaints. We have, 
accordingly, modified the proposed definition of ``consumer complaint'' 
to specify that the reportable communications are those made ``to or 
with a manufacturer addressed to the company, an officer thereof or an 
entity thereof that handles consumer matters, a manufacturer website 
that receives consumer complaints, a manufacturer electronic mail 
system that receives such information at the corporate level, or that 
are otherwise received by a unit of the manufacturer that receives 
consumer inquiries or complaints, including telephonic complaints * * 
*.'' The agency wishes to emphasize that this definition encompasses 
written complaints addressed to the manufacturer generally or to an 
officer of the company (e.g., to ``XYZ Company'' or to ``President'' or 
to the president by name) and telephonic complaints that, in the normal 
course of business, are directed or routed to the office that receives 
consumer inquiries or complaints. If we find that this modification 
leads to abuses by manufacturers, we will take appropriate action in 
the future.
    NTEA, representing final stage manufacturers, in its comment to the 
ANPRM said that manufacturers should be required to report only about 
components for which they are responsible, rather than about all 
components in a vehicle about which they may have received complaints. 
Since the final rule only requires reporting from manufacturers of 500 
or more vehicles per year (other than incidents involving fatalities), 
it is likely that few NTEA members will have to submit consumer 
complaint information. However, for these that are covered, we note 
that the issue of which manufacturer's product is ``responsible'' often 
is disputed and is not determinative for early warning purposes. 
Moreover, the final stage manufacturer is often the only entity with 
which an owner deals. For example, a consumer who experiences a fuel 
leak in a vehicle is more likely to complain to the manufacturer of the 
completed vehicle than to the manufacturer of the chassis. To assure 
that important information is submitted, we are adopting our proposal 
to require that each vehicle manufacturer covered by the regulation 
report on all consumer complaints (and other specified information) 
that it receives.
    Separate questions arise with respect to child restraint systems. 
We proposed ``to require * * * all child restraint system 
manufacturers, to report the number of consumer complaints that the 
manufacturers have received about designated components and systems of 
their * * * equipment during each reporting period.'' See NPRM at p. 
66203. We also stated that we were proposing to require ``all child 
seat * * * manufacturers to report aggregated warranty claims data from 
the U.S. on certain specified components and systems.'' See p. 66205. 
The implication of these statements was that child restraint system 
manufacturers, like other manufacturers subject to the proposed 
reporting requirements, would separately report consumer complaint and 
warranty claims data. Despite the preamble statements, text that would 
require the submission of consumer complaint and warranty claims data 
was inadvertently omitted from the proposed regulatory text of Section 
579.26, specifying the reporting requirements for manufacturers of 
child restraint systems.
    After JPMA brought this discrepancy to our attention, we orally 
confirmed that the preamble statements proposing to require child 
restraint system manufacturers to submit both consumer complaint and 
warranty claims data reflected the agency's intent, and that the agency 
contemplated that this

[[Page 45851]]

information would be separately reported. Thereafter, in its comments, 
JPMA recommended that child restraint manufacturers be allowed to 
combine the reporting of consumer complaints and warranty claims 
because most of these manufacturers routinely treat both categories of 
information the same, and therefore capture it in a single database 
that cannot reasonably be segregated. To avoid the need to impose an 
additional sorting burden on child restraint system manufacturers, we 
are requiring reporting on the combined number of consumer complaints 
and warranty claims that they receive. Accordingly, for manufacturers 
of child restraint systems, we are modifying the text of proposed 
Section 579.26 (Section 579.25 in the final rule) by designating 
proposed paragraph (c) as paragraph (d), and adding a new paragraph (c) 
covering the submission of the combined number of consumer complaints 
and warranty claims.

K. Warranty Claims Information

    We proposed to require submission of information about certain 
``warranty claims'' as ``other data'' under Section 30166(m)(3)(B).
1. Definitions of ``warranty,'' ``warranty claim,'' and ``warranty 
adjustment''
    We proposed definitions of warranty and warranty claim. After 
reviewing various definitions of ``warranty,'' and comments on the 
issue, we proposed a definition of warranty based on the definition of 
written warranty in the Moss-Magnuson Act, 15 U.S.C. 2301(6), to which 
manufacturers are subject. Under that Act, a ``written warranty'' 
means:

    (A) any written affirmation of fact or written promise made in 
connection with the sale of a consumer product by a supplier to a 
buyer which relates to the nature of the material or workmanship and 
affirms or promises that such material or workmanship is defect free 
or will meet a specified level of performance over a specified 
period of time, or
    (B) any undertaking in writing in connection with the sale by a 
supplier of a consumer product to refund, repair, replace, or take 
other remedial action with respect to such product in the event that 
such product fails to meet the specifications set forth in the 
undertaking, which written affirmation, promise, or undertaking 
becomes part of the basis of the bargain between a supplier and a 
buyer for purposes other than resale of such product.

    We tailored that definition to the subject matter at issue and 
proposed to define ``warranty'' as:

    Any written affirmation of fact or written promise made in 
connection with the sale or lease of a motor vehicle or motor 
vehicle equipment by a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer to a 
buyer or lessee that relates to the nature of the material or 
workmanship and affirms or promises that such material or 
workmanship is defect free or will meet a specified level of 
performance over a specified period of time (including any 
extensions of such specified period of time), or any undertaking in 
writing in connection with the sale or lease by a manufacturer, 
distributor, or dealer of a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle 
equipment to refund, repair, replace, or take other remedial action 
with respect to such product in the event that such product fails to 
meet the specifications set forth in the undertaking.

    The normal practice is for dealers to perform the repair or to 
provide the replacement and then to submit a claim for reimbursement to 
the manufacturer. Accordingly, we proposed that ``warranty claim'' 
means ``any claim presented to a manufacturer for payment pursuant to a 
warranty program, extended warranty program, or good will.''
    The Alliance, NADA, Honda, RMA, MIC, Nissan, RVIA, Harley-Davidson, 
and Spartan provided comments on this issue.
    The Alliance commented that the term ``warranty'' is a term of art 
that has significance for other statutes and regulations, so that it is 
important not to include in the definition factors that are not part of 
a manufacturer's existing warranty system, and it recommended three 
changes to NHTSA's proposed definition.
    First, it asserted that the definition needs to specify that a 
warranty is provided by a manufacturer ``without separate 
consideration'' in order to capture what is considered to be a 
``warranty'' in the ordinary course of business, and to exclude certain 
``insurance-type'' products that can be purchased separately by an 
owner. This could reduce the number of warranty claims manufacturers 
must report, as it would appear to limit warranty reporting to the 
basic warranty offered with the vehicle, rather than include the 
optional warranties offered on motor vehicles and motor vehicle 
equipment. The Alliance was concerned with ``insurance type'' products 
that can be sold separately.
    Second, the Alliance contended that the portion of NHTSA's proposed 
definition referring to ``repair, refund, or replace'' should be 
deleted because it is unclear and appears to include remedial activity, 
which the Alliance asserted is not part of the warranty process. It 
asserted that including reports on safety or emissions recall activity 
would contaminate the system and devalue its ability to predict 
possible defect trends.
    Finally, the Alliance argued that the reference to ``dealers and 
distributors'' should be deleted because they do not have the authority 
to alter the terms of a manufacturer's warranty. This would clarify 
that repairs under independently provided service contracts are not 
reportable. Similar comments were made by NADA, Nissan, Harley-Davidson 
and MIC. Nissan added that reporting activities under a warranty 
offered by someone other than a ``manufacturer'' would not be 
appropriate and would create confusion and unnecessary complications. 
Harley-Davidson stated that a warranty claim based upon a warranty 
representation or extended service plan offered by a person other than 
entities over which the manufacturer has control should be excluded. In 
sum, the manufacturers argued that only those warranties authorized and 
offered by a manufacturer should be reported.
    Thus, the Alliance suggested an alternate definition for 
``warranty:''

    Any written affirmation of fact or written promise provided 
without separate consideration in connection with the sale or lease 
of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment by a manufacturer to a 
buyer or lessee that relates to the nature of the material or 
workmanship and affirms or promises that such material or 
workmanship is defect free or will meet a specified level of 
performance over a specified period of time (including any 
extensions of such specified period of time), but does not include 
any written materials related to a notification and remedy campaign 
conducted in accordance with Parts 573 and 579.5 of this Chapter.

    As for the Alliance's first point, in our view, NHTSA's proposed 
definition already excludes third-party ``insurance type'' products. 
The definition states that the warranty has to be made ``by the 
manufacturer.'' Unless a manufacturer (including one of its 
subsidiaries or affiliates) has provided such products, it will not 
have to report on them. Furthermore, we see no difference between a 
warranty that is offered without separate consideration and one that 
does. We realize that there are warranties offered by the manufacturer 
for an additional price that offer more coverage than a basic warranty. 
Information on claims under such supplemental warranties would be 
valuable to NHTSA in spotting a potential defect.
    The Alliance's second point concerns the latter part of our 
proposed definition of ``warranty'' which would include:

    Any undertaking in writing in connection with the sale or lease 
by a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer of a motor vehicle or item 
of motor vehicle equipment to refund,

[[Page 45852]]

repair, replace, or take other remedial action with respect to such 
product in the event that such product fails to meet the 
specifications set forth in the undertaking.

This language, with only minor alterations to tailor it to the Vehicle 
Safety Act, was taken from the language of the Moss-Magnuson Act's 
definition of ``warranty.'' As stated in the preamble to the NPRM, we 
believe that most manufacturers should be familiar with this definition 
because of the Moss-Magnuson Act's applicability to their warranties. 
As a result, we disagree with the Alliance's assertion that this is 
unclear. The Alliance offers no basis for disputing the clarity of the 
second half of the definition of ``warranty'' that we proposed.
    We agree with the Alliance that it would not be appropriate to 
report recall work that is accounted for under a manufacturer's 
warranty system. Manufacturers should remove those claims that relate 
only to work performed under a recall campaign that has been reported 
to NHTSA under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 49 CFR Part 573 (or performed 
pursuant to emissions-related recalls under the Clean Air Act).
    As for the Alliance's third point, we agree that manufacturer-
provided warranties are distinguishable from other service-oriented 
products offered by dealers. A manufacturer is the person responsible 
for its warranty on its products. Reimbursement under a service 
contract offered by a dealer or a distributor not backed up by a 
manufacturer need not be reported to NHTSA. Accordingly, the final 
definition of ``warranty'' contains no reference to distributors or 
dealers.
    RMA suggested that tire manufacturers should be required to report 
``warranty adjustments,'' rather than warranty claims, to more 
accurately reflect the tire industry's practices and terminology. 
``Warranty adjustments'' would be defined to mean ``payment or other 
restitution made by a tire manufacturer to a consumer, or to a dealer 
in reimbursement for payment or other restitution made to a consumer, 
pursuant to a warranty program, extended warranty program, or good 
will. In RMA's view, ``When NHTSA seeks warranty information from tire 
manufacturers, the data it seeks and reviews is ``warranty adjustment'' 
data in our terminology, not `warranty claim' data as defined in the 
NPRM.'' We believe that RMA's comment is valid, and we are defining 
``warranty adjustment'' as follows:

    Any payment or other restitution, such as, but not limited to, 
replacement, repair, credit, or cash refund, made by a tire 
manufacturer to a consumer, or to a dealer in reimbursement for 
payment or other restitution to a consumer, pursuant to a warranty 
program offered by the manufacturer.

2. Reports Involving Warranty Claims
    In the ANPRM, we indicated that we believed that information about 
warranty claims can often provide relevant information that indicates 
the possible existence of a safety defect. Manufacturers commented on 
this. After reviewing these comments and assessing the value of 
warranty claims data to the early identification of possible safety 
defects, we discussed in some detail in the preamble to the NPRM how, 
in the past, warranty information has helped us to detect defects. We 
have often found warranty claims to be more valuable than customer 
complaints because the customer has identified a problem, a repair 
facility (often a manufacturer-franchised dealer) has performed a 
repair, and the manufacturer has paid for some of or all the repair. 
This information is valuable to NHTSA as an early warning tool in 
assessing whether a defect potentially exists. The principal limit on 
the value is that after the expiration of the warranty (often three 
years or 36,000 miles), this information is no longer generated. 
However, at times these programs are extended when there are problems 
with the product and at times manufacturers also pay for repairs under 
``good will'' programs. We have found that ``good will'' actions 
provide valuable information in that manufacturers may choose to 
address a perceived problem by extending or liberalizing the terms of a 
warranty rather than by conducting a full recall, or by formally 
extending the warranty period. In order to aid in the early discovery 
of potential defects, the agency believes that the number of good will 
claims should be reported along with more ``traditional'' warranty 
claims.
    The NPRM would have required manufacturers of 500 or more vehicles 
annually and all child restraint system and tire manufacturers to 
report aggregated warranty claims data from the United States on 
certain specified components or systems and fire (as described below). 
We proposed defining ``warranty claim'' as ``any claim presented to a 
manufacturer for payment pursuant to a warranty program, an extended 
warranty program, or good will.'' Thus, warranty claim reporting would 
comprise the number of repairs and/or replacements performed free of 
charge under warranties, as well as those under formal or informal 
extended warranties and good will. We proposed to define ``good will'' 
as ``the repair or replacement of a motor vehicle or item of motor 
vehicle equipment, including labor, paid for by the manufacturer, at 
least in part, when the repair or replacement is not covered under 
warranty.'' This can occur because the terms of the warranty have 
expired, or the issue is outside the terms of the warranty, for 
example, when the manufacturer pays or participates in voluntary buy-
backs and Lemon Law buy-backs of vehicles or motor vehicle equipment.
    One suggestion made in the comments was that manufacturers should 
only report on warranty claims that were paid by the manufacturer. We 
agree with this suggestion. Manufacturers receive some incomplete 
warranty claims and do not pay them. They generally do not retain 
information on warranty claims that are presented to them and not paid. 
Thus, unpaid warranty claims would not be within a manufacturer's 
database and a manufacturer cannot report information that it does not 
have. Furthermore, the TREAD Act precludes NHTSA from requiring 
manufacturers to maintain or submit records respecting information not 
in their possession. See 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(4)(B). Since some 
manufacturers do not keep records on unpaid warranty claims, NHTSA is 
constrained from requiring them to do so. To address this issue, the 
final rule defines ``warranty claim'' as ``any claim paid by a 
manufacturer, including provision of a credit, pursuant to a warranty 
program, an extended warranty program, or good will.''
    The Alliance, Nissan, and Spartan commented on the inclusion of 
good will in warranty claims. The Alliance noted that NHTSA would 
receive a substantial number of good will claims in warranty claims 
reports because many Alliance members use their warranty systems to 
process them and had no objection to reporting good will claims that 
are processed along with warranty claims through the warranty system. 
Spartan generally opposed reporting certain good will claims because, 
in its view, good will claims are not good indicators of a problem with 
a motor vehicle; it contended that claims processed for good will or 
``customer satisfaction'' would not provide NHTSA with an accurate 
indication of the condition that necessitated the repair. It observed 
that a high percentage of claims it received for these purposes are 
based on factors involving subjectivity or customer perception, and 
when investigated, often result in no problem being found.

[[Page 45853]]

The Alliance did not support reporting good will claims processed 
outside the normal warranty system, such as by direct check 
reimbursement, because the burden to manually account for and report 
these claims would outweigh the value of this data. The Alliance would 
exclude vehicle buy-backs under state lemon laws from good will claims. 
Spartan raised burden issues as well.
    The Alliance also suggested a definition for good will, which was 
``the repair or replacement of a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle 
equipment, including labor, any part of which is paid for by the 
manufacturer through its warranty administration system, when the 
repair or replacement is not covered under warranty.''
    The Alliance's and Nissan's recommendation of limiting good will 
claims to those processed through a manufacturer's warranty 
administration system would exclude good will claims based on direct 
check reimbursement from a manufacturer to an owner not tracked within 
a manufacturer's warranty administration system and good will claims 
paid by manufacturers that provide payments and credits to dealers and 
others but do not record good will claims in their warranty systems. 
Good will claims not administered through a company's warranty system 
provide information as valuable as good will claims that are 
administered through that process. We desire to capture as many good 
will claims as possible to ensure we have a complete database from 
which to identify potential defects.
    ODI's experience indicates that most manufacturers capture good 
will claims within their warranty systems. It appears to us, therefore, 
that the burden of capturing outside good will claims will be limited. 
Furthermore, all companies must have some means to track their good 
will claims for financial tracking purposes. Consequently, even if the 
good will claims are not in a warranty administration system, 
ordinarily they would be in another computerized system that could be 
accessed and reviewed without significant difficulty. If they were not 
entered and maintained in a manner that would provide minimal 
specificity, they would not be reported. We cannot estimate the burden 
of such review, since the Alliance did not provide any information 
about which companies possess good will payments outside their regular 
warranty system or the number or percentage of such ``outside'' claims.
    Therefore, based upon the foregoing we believe that the definition 
of ``good will'' should include all good will claims regardless where 
they are processed within the company. We are adopting our proposed 
definition of ``good will,'' adding the further clarification that the 
repair or replacement is one that is not covered by a safety recall. 
Thus, ``good will'' means:

the repair or replacement of a motor vehicle or item of motor 
vehicle equipment, including labor, paid for by the manufacturer, at 
least in part, when the repair or replacement is not covered under 
warranty, or under a safety recall reported to NHTSA under part 573 
of this chapter.

    Several manufacturers suggested that NHTSA should clarify that it 
does not expect manufacturers to report lawsuits or claims for breach 
of warranty. We agree that the rule should be clarified to exclude 
lawsuits or claims for breach of warranty. As noted above, we are 
defining ``warranty claim'' as ``any claim paid by a manufacturer * * 
*.'' Thus, the definition does not include unpaid claims such as 
lawsuits or claims for breach of warranty. However, if a lawsuit or 
claim for breach of warranty is resolved with a monetary payment, it 
would become a ``warranty claim'' under our definition, and would have 
to be reported.
    RVIA suggested that we establish a threshold number or percentage 
of claims relating to a particular critical system on a given model 
before any reporting is required. We discussed this concept in the 
ANPRM, but rejected it because we believe we may lose early information 
in the early warning stages and do not have the capability to set such 
thresholds.
    RMA stated that not all good will claims will be captured in the 
categories that tire manufacturers must report on. Therefore, in order 
to capture all good will claims, RMA proposed the term ``customer 
satisfaction condition'' to capture those good will claims that do not 
fit within the categories prescribed by NHTSA. RMA suggested that:

    Tire conditions reported in the category ``customer satisfaction 
condition'' would include any tire not meeting customer expectations 
due to adverse operating conditions, cosmetic conditions, ride 
conditions, wear conditions, customer abuse, conditions not directly 
related to the tire (e.g. valve lead, bent rim), and the like.

    RMA asserted that this category would cover all warranted and non-
warranted (good will) adjustment conditions not included in the four 
component categories: tread, sidewall, bead, and other. Thus, RMA 
requested NHTSA to add this category to tire manufacturers' reporting 
obligation for warranty adjustment data. The RMA comments did not 
provide a clear basis for suggesting this additional reporting 
requirement, but it subsequently explained that this category would be 
used in instances where no specific tire failure was involved, such as 
for the three non-failed tires on a vehicle where the customer insisted 
on replacing all four tires when only one had failed.
    We do not believe that data concerning tires with no failure 
condition or with cosmetic, ride, or wear concerns will be useful to 
the early detection of safety-related tire defects. Therefore, the 
``customer satisfaction condition'' will not be adopted in the final 
rule. However, we emphasize that tire failure conditions attributed to 
``adverse operating conditions'' or ``customer abuse'' should be 
counted in the appropriate category set forth in the rule. For example, 
to the extent that tire tread failures are attributed to road hazards 
or under-inflation in a manufacturer's warranty adjustment system, the 
incidents should still be counted under the tire ``tread'' component 
code.

L. Field Reports

    As part of its defect investigations, ODI regularly requires 
manufacturers to provide ``field reports'' about alleged defects. These 
include communications received by a manufacturer from the 
manufacturer's staff, a dealer, an authorized service center, or 
others, regarding an alleged problem in or dissatisfaction with a 
product in use. They are usually prepared by someone with technical 
expertise. There are far fewer field reports than consumer complaints, 
although practices resulting in the generation of field reports vary 
widely among manufacturers. Field reports are not specifically 
mentioned in the TREAD Act, but were addressed in the ANPRM. In the 
NPRM, we proposed to require submission of the number of field reports, 
and the submission of certain categories of such reports, as ``other 
data'' under Section 30166(m)(3)(B).
1. Definition of ``field report''
    The ANPRM asked for comments on an appropriate definition of 
``field report.'' Two broad themes cut across industry responses. 
First, respondents stressed the importance of clearly and precisely 
defining the term ``field report.'' The Alliance requested that the 
term be defined as technical reports by technical staff involving one 
or more incidents in the field involving a covered vehicle system on a 
vehicle that had been sold. According to other respondents, the term 
has numerous meanings within the medium and heavy-duty truck industry 
as well as

[[Page 45854]]

among equipment manufacturers and is not well defined across the tire 
industry. We were told that the trailer industry, for example, does not 
use the term ``field reports.''
    The second broad theme in the comments by manufacturers was a 
recommendation to limit the number and types of field reports to be 
reported to us. The Alliance would limit it to certain technical 
reports about an incident (or several similar incidents) that are 
prepared by technical representatives. The Alliance would exclude 
unverified reports regarding customer complaints that are passed 
through to the manufacturer without any technical analysis. Commenters 
in the tire industry and the heavy trucking industry indicated that 
many of the communications they refer to as field reports deal with 
sales, marketing and customer satisfaction programs, which they would 
exclude. We agreed with this.
    In the NPRM, we concluded that the Alliance's suggested restriction 
of the definition to ``technical reports'' that are prepared by 
``technical'' employees was not feasible. It would require a definition 
of ``technical'' and ``technical report'' and difficult, if not 
impossible, assessments of whether the author was a technical employee 
and whether the content amounted to a technical report, which could 
result in delays, under-reporting, and unnecessary burdens.
    There was considerable discussion about whether we should require 
the reporting of field reports prepared by a dealer's technicians. The 
Alliance recommended including both types of reports in an early 
warning system. Some manufacturers, however, felt that reporting of 
dealer reports should not be required. We believe that it is important 
for us to receive information about such dealer reports received by 
manufacturers regarding potential defects because they are a valuable 
source of relevant information. Indeed, they are one of the primary 
bases upon which manufacturers become aware of potential defects in 
their products. We therefore proposed to require reporting of the 
cumulative number of field reports prepared both by manufacturers' 
employees or representatives and by dealers, including their employees, 
involving specified systems and components.
    We also proposed to include in our definition of ``field report'' 
any document received by a manufacturer that was prepared by a person 
owning or representing one or more fleets of vehicles. For these 
purposes, a fleet would be defined as more than ten vehicles of the 
same model and model year. Such reports often contain data on multiple 
incidents involving vehicles used by delivery companies (e.g., FedEx, 
UPS), rental companies, trucking companies, police departments, and 
school districts. Fleet vehicles generally accumulate greater miles 
over a given period of time than non-commercial vehicles and therefore 
can serve as a valuable source of predictive information for early 
warning purposes. Most commenters did not dispute this. The few that 
did (Nissan and TMA) likened fleet reports to customer complaints. They 
did not demonstrate that fleet vehicles are not subject to extensive 
use. Therefore we are adopting it as proposed.
    Other definitional issues raised by commenters were whether field 
reports should be limited to written communication and to ``non-
privileged'' documents. Under the NPRM, reporting would be required 
with regard to documented communications (e.g., those in writing, 
entered electronically, or otherwise converted into a document in the 
broadest sense of the word). With respect to the issue of privilege, we 
recognized that a field report truly prepared in anticipation of 
litigation could be considered as work product, and thus ordinarily be 
exempt from production in litigation. We believed that the existence of 
any such reports should be indicated to us, even though privileged and 
work product documents would not have to be submitted.
    We agreed that reports relating to sales, marketing, and dealer-
manufacturer relations were not within the definition of field report.
    Finally, in addition to proposing that manufacturers report the 
number of field reports, we proposed that manufacturers would have to 
submit copies of field reports prepared by their employees and 
representatives and by fleets. However, manufacturers would not have to 
submit copies of field reports prepared by dealers or dealer employees.
    On the basis of these considerations, we proposed the following 
definition for ``field report:''

    A communication in writing, including communications in 
electronic form, from an employee or representative of a 
manufacturer of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, a dealer 
or authorized service facility of such manufacturer, or by an entity 
that owns or operates a fleet, to a manufacturer, regarding the 
failure, malfunction, lack of durability, or other performance 
problem of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, or any part 
thereof, produced by that manufacturer, regardless of whether the 
problem is verified or assessed to be lacking in merit.

    The Alliance, NADA, RMA, MIC, Ford, GM, Harley-Davidson, and 
Utilimaster provided comments on these issues.
    The Alliance argued that the definition should be limited to 
reports about incidents that occur ``in the field,'' which, in its 
view, is generally understood ``to mean incidents involving vehicles in 
use by consumers and the public.'' Absent this clarification, the 
proposed definition could be viewed as requiring reporting of incidents 
involving pre-production prototypes, or results of pre-production 
consumer evaluation clinics. Harley-Davidson had a similar comment.
    The Alliance also commented that the definition should state that 
subsequent internal correspondence about the field incident is not 
reportable as another ``field report.'' NHTSA should also state, 
according to the Alliance, that ``field report'' does not include a 
contact from a dealer seeking technical assistance from the 
manufacturer in conducting a repair. For these reasons, the Alliance 
suggested that ``field report'' be defined as:

    (a) A non-privileged technical report prepared by a 
manufacturer's technical staff involving (b) a single incident in 
the field or several similar incidents in the field, (c) a covered 
vehicle system, and (d) a vehicle (or vehicles) that has been sold 
to a purchaser for purposes other than resale.

    We agree with the comment by the Alliance and Harley-Davidson that 
it is not our intent to include reports involving prototype vehicles 
and equipment within the ambit of field reports, and are adding the 
phrase ``produced for sale,'' which we find clearer than ``in the 
field.'' As for the Alliance's other recommendations, while ``internal 
correspondence'' might not fit within the definition of ``field 
report,'' there can be, and often will be, multiple field reports about 
a particular incident. The information contained in such subsequent 
reports can be very valuable in ascertaining whether a possible defect 
exists. As for contact from a dealer seeking technical assistance in a 
repair, reports on diagnostics would be included within the definition, 
but a document reflecting the manufacturer's assistance after the 
diagnosis when the dealer's question is how to perform a repair would 
not.
    MIC suggested that NHTSA define ``field reports'' ``to include 
communications received by a manufacturer from the manufacturer's 
technical staff, a dealer, and authorized service center, or others, 
regarding an alleged problem in or dissatisfaction with a product in 
use.'' This is not as clear or as comprehensive as the NPRM

[[Page 45855]]

proposed definition, which covered the failure, malfunction, lack of 
durability, or other performance problem of a motor vehicle or motor 
vehicle equipment, or any part thereof, produced by that manufacturer. 
Also, the MIC formulation does not include the phrase ``regardless of 
whether verified or assessed to be lacking in merit.'' It is important 
that the scope of the definition be set forth inclusively and that a 
manufacturer not be allowed to avoid reporting by denying an underlying 
assertion. In the NPRM, we noted that we were reluctant to limit the 
definition to include only ``technical'' or ``technical reports'' 
because it would require us to define those terms and require an 
assessment whether the author was a technical employee and whether the 
content was a technical report, which could result in delays, under-
reporting, and unnecessary burdens. See 66 FR 66205. With regard to the 
MIC comment, the term ``technical staff'' would be equally problematic, 
as it is not defined. In any case, there is no need to include the 
term, since the MIC comment would include reports from ``others.''
    Other industry commenters asserted generally that the proposed 
definition of ``field report'' was overbroad and would include 
irrelevant and highly sensitive information of no value to early 
warning. The commenters expressed concern over the scope of information 
that would be considered a ``field report'' under the proposed 
definition. The comments suggested a belief that field reports would 
include dealer issues, personnel information, commercially sensitive 
information, proprietary information, privileged and non-privileged 
litigation materials and work product. For instance, NADA emphasized 
that the definition should not be construed to cover such dealer-to-
manufacturer communications such as technician assistance, electronic 
vehicle reprogramming, service or parts sales/marketing, customer 
satisfaction reports, etc. RMA added that the field reports received by 
the tire industry are more like consumer complaints and contended that 
the agency has already recognized that consumer complaints are 
unreliable in judging or predicting tire performance; the comment 
asserted that the reporting of field reports would be overly burdensome 
to members of the tire industry, and of little or no benefit to the 
agency.
    The definition of field report that we proposed was intended to 
capture the basic concept of field reports utilized by ODI for many 
years. In the course of defects investigations, ODI has obtained 
information on field reports from manufacturers on a routine and 
standard basis, pursuant to numerous information requests. These 
industry comments misconstrue what was covered by the proposal. For 
example, ``field report'' was not intended to (and, in our view, did 
not) cover every dealer-to-manufacturer communication. ``Field report'' 
did not cover routine parts requisitions, marketing, dealer operation 
and relationship issues, company personnel matters or consumer 
complaints (which are addressed elsewhere in the rule), and would not 
include requests for previously-distributed technical support 
documents, such as instructions on installations of specified parts. 
``Field report'' also would not include requests for guidance on how to 
efficiently perform routine maintenance on difficult-to-access 
components, or simple requests for towing (without more). As provided 
by the proposed rule, we would require reporting on the numbers of 
field reports involving failure, malfunction, lack of durability, or 
other performance problems for the categories set forth. The comments 
have not demonstrated that this is inappropriate. With regard to the 
comment reflecting the belief that field reports would include dealer 
and personnel issues, we note that dealer-manufacturer issues that do 
not involve defined problems with vehicles are outside the definition 
of field report. We have included reports prepared by manufacturers' 
representatives because manufacturers' representatives in the field 
often are not employees of the manufacturers in a strict legal sense.
    The Alliance argued that reports generated by employees and 
representatives of a manufacturer that have performed product 
evaluations or operated ``company-owned''' vehicles for personal use 
should not be considered as field reports. However, such reports often 
describe a problem or malfunction and can provide valuable information 
regarding possible defects. In fact, many manufacturers use them for 
that very purpose. Therefore, we have decided that if such reports 
relate to vehicles that were produced for sale, they are encompassed 
within the definition of field report.
    Some manufacturers expressed concern that the production of field 
reports would require a costly and burdensome review of litigation 
files and compromise the work product exclusion. Ford and GM asserted 
that under the proposed definition of field reports, they would be 
required to produce hard copies of draft and final documents in their 
litigation files, which would intrude upon the work product exclusion. 
Furthermore, Ford argued that even if it were only required to report 
numbers, rather than produce hard copies of field reports in its 
litigation files, the reporting of these numbers would hamper the 
ability of car manufacturers to evaluate product liability cases and 
prepare for trial, since it would reveal case strategy and trial 
preparation information that would not be disclosed in the litigation 
itself. We disagree with Ford's assertion. Ford's assertion overstates 
the NPRM's coverage of litigation documents. Documents created for 
litigation, such as expert reports, are often not created by a 
manufacturer's employee or representative. Nevertheless, although we do 
not believe that the proposed definition would cause the range of 
problems asserted by Ford and GM, we are concerned about inhibiting the 
manufacturers' ability to consult with outside counsel. Therefore, we 
are specifying in the final rule that a field report ``does not include 
a document contained in a litigation file that was created after the 
date of the filing of a civil complaint and relates to the vehicle, 
component, or system at issue in the litigation.''
    Accordingly, the final rule defines ``field report'' as

    A communication in writing, including communications in 
electronic form, from an employee or representative of a 
manufacturer of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, a dealer 
or authorized service facility of such manufacturer, or by an entity 
that owns or operates a fleet, to a manufacturer, regarding the 
failure, malfunction, lack of durability, or other performance 
problem of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, or any part 
thereof, produced for sale by that manufacturer, regardless of 
whether verified or assessed to be lacking in merit, but does not 
include a document contained in a litigation file that was created 
after the date of the filing of a civil complaint that relates to 
the vehicle, component or system at issue in the litigation.

2. Reporting and Submission of Field Reports
    We proposed that the number of field reports involving specified 
components and systems from all sources be reported to us, and that 
NHTSA be provided with copies of all field reports from sources other 
than dealers.
    With respect to numbers, we proposed that manufacturers of 500 or 
more motor vehicles and all manufacturers of child restraint systems 
and tires report the number of field reports originating in the United 
States regarding the same components and systems as they would be 
required to report for property damage claims,

[[Page 45856]]

consumer complaints, and warranty claims, as specified in the 
regulation. As with these categories of information, reporting would be 
done separately for each model and model year, for the ten previous 
model years. Consumer complaints that were merely forwarded to the 
manufacturer by the dealer without any comment or assessment would not 
have to be reported as field reports, but they would have to be 
reported as consumer complaints.
    The proposal to submit copies of some field reports occasioned 
several comments. Under the NPRM, we proposed to require manufacturers 
to provide the number of field reports covering only certain vehicle 
systems or components, and fire. On the other hand, manufacturers would 
have to provide copies of all field reports that are generated by 
employees or representatives of the manufacturer or by representatives 
of fleets of the manufacturers' vehicles (but not from their dealers).
    The Alliance objected to the breadth of the proposed document 
submittal, asserting that this would result in over 45,000 field 
reports provided to NHTSA from its members alone. The Alliance asked 
that any requirement that field reports be submitted be restricted to 
those covering the components and systems for which numbers reporting 
will be required. We are accepting this suggestion, and are adding 
language to paragraph (d) of Sections 579.21-579.25 to address this 
point.
    The NPRM proposed to require manufacturers to submit copies of 
field reports that are generated by employees or representatives of the 
manufacturer or by representatives of fleets of the manufacturer's 
vehicles. The NPRM would not require copies of reports that are 
prepared by dealers or their employees. This reflects an effort to 
focus on what are now, in general, the more technically rich documents 
(i.e., the manufacturer--as opposed to dealer--generated documents) and 
to reduce burdens. Documents in which a manufacturer's representative 
or employee raises or analyzes a potential problem have often been 
valuable to ODI in identifying a defect. To clarify matters, the final 
rule adds language to paragraph (d) of Sections 579.21-579.25 to 
clarify that manufacturers are required to submit documents assessing 
possible problems and are not required to submit documents regarding 
non-safety related issues such as marketing, personnel information, 
dealer information, and issues such as dealer technician and roadside 
assistance calls. Thus, the only field reports that are to be submitted 
are those that contain ``an assessment of an alleged failure, 
malfunction, lack of durability, or other performance problem of a 
motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that is originated by 
an employee or representative of the manufacturer * * *.''
    The Alliance also objected to our proposal to require redaction of 
field reports. We proposed to require manufacturers to provide two 
copies of each field report covered by the submission requirements: one 
complete copy and one from which all personal information about 
individuals has been redacted. After reviewing the comments, we have 
decided not to adopt such a requirement. To the extent that redaction 
is needed, it will be performed by the agency.
    Comments raised concerns about commercially sensitive and 
proprietary information. Utilimaster complained that competitors might 
use the information submitted to NHTSA against one another to gain a 
competitive edge. However, manufacturers can request confidentiality 
for information submitted to NHTSA pursuant to our regulation entitled 
Confidential Business Information, 49 CFR Part 512. Competitive harm is 
a basis for granting a request for confidentiality.
    RMA argued that the field reports received by the tire industry are 
more like consumer complaints and contended that the agency has already 
recognized that consumer complaints are unreliable in judging or 
predicting tire performance. Its comment also asserted that the 
reporting of field reports would be overly burdensome to members of the 
tire industry, claiming that ``there is no system available to ``search 
out'' such a wide variety of documents, let alone place them in 
appropriate categories (tread, bead, sidewall, other),'' and concluding 
that ``assuming that a practical and reliable system could be designed, 
it would be very expensive to implement.'' RMA asked that tire 
manufacturers be excluded from the requirement to report numbers of 
field reports.
    We disagree with RMA's comment that the agency has deemed consumer 
complaints unreliable, and that field reports would be of little or no 
benefit to the agency, as we discussed earlier in this document. 
However, we have reconsidered our tentative conclusion, as expressed in 
the NPRM, that tire manufacturers should be required to report numbers 
of field reports to NHTSA (the NPRM had already proposed to exclude 
tire manufacturers from providing copies of field reports). On the 
basis that tire industry field reports are more like consumer 
complaints, it would appear that the information that might be gained 
from such reports would be of limited value in detecting safety 
problems in tires. If a safety problem is developing in a line of 
tires, we believe that the problem is more likely to be detected 
through an increase in warranty adjustments than through field reports, 
which are better suited to detecting emerging problems in motor 
vehicles. Accordingly, the final rule does not require tire 
manufacturers to submit either numbers or copies of field reports.
    In sum, we are convinced of the utility of field reports as 
indicators of potential safety defects, and that the definition, as 
modified and clarified, is properly scoped. Therefore, we are revising 
proposed paragraph (d) in each of Sections 579.21 and 579.22 to read as 
follows:

* * * a copy of each field report (other than a dealer report) 
involving one or more of the systems or components identified in 
paragraph (b)(2) of this section, or fire, or rollover, containing 
an assessment of an alleged failure, malfunction, lack of durability 
or other performance problem of a motor vehicle or item of motor 
vehicle equipment (including any part thereof) that is originated by 
an employee or representative of the manufacturer and that the 
manufacturer received during a reporting period. These documents 
shall be submitted alphabetically by make, within each make 
alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by 
model year.

    These sections relate to field reports for passenger cars and 
medium-heavy vehicles including buses. Paragraph (d) of Sections 579.23 
and 579.24 relating to field reports for motorcycles and trailers reads 
identically except that rollovers are not included. Paragraph (d) of 
Section 579.25 relating to field reports for child restraint systems 
reads identically except that neither fires nor rollover are included.

M. Customer Satisfaction Campaigns, Consumer Advisories, Recalls, or 
Other Activities Involving the Repair or Replacement of Motor Vehicles 
or Motor Vehicle Equipment

    This aspect of the early warning proposed rule related to 
documentation that all manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor 
vehicle equipment would have to submit under proposed Section 579.5(b).
    This requirement is based upon Section 30166(m)(3)(A)(ii), which 
provides for submission of information (derived from foreign and 
domestic sources) that concerns ``customer satisfaction campaigns, 
consumer advisories, recalls, or other activity involving the repair or 
replacement of

[[Page 45857]]

motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment'' (we will use the 
term ``campaign'' at times hereafter collectively to refer to all such 
actions by the manufacturer). As we stated in the ANPRM, this new 
section is broader than 49 CFR 573.8 (2001)(which implements Section 
30166(f)), which requires a manufacturer to provide copies of 
communications to more than one manufacturer, distributor, dealer, 
lessor, lessee, or purchaser regarding ``any defect'' including ``any 
failure or malfunction beyond normal deterioration in use, or any flaw 
or unintended deviation from design specifications, whether or not such 
defect is safety related.''
    In the NPRM, we proposed to define the phrase ``customer 
satisfaction campaign, consumer advisory, recall, or other activity 
involving the repair or replacement of motor vehicles or motor vehicle 
equipment,'' to mean:

    Any communication by a manufacturer to, or made available to, 
more than one dealer, distributor, lessor, lessee, other 
manufacturer, or owner, whether in writing or by electronic means, 
relating to (1) repair, replacement, or modification of a vehicle, 
component of a vehicle or item of equipment, or a component thereof 
(2) the manner in which a vehicle or equipment is to be maintained 
or operated, or (3) advice or direction to a dealer or distributor 
to cease the delivery or sale of specified models of vehicles or 
equipment.

    We included communications related to operation and maintenance 
because they may relate to a potential defect. For example, a warning 
sent to owners not to turn on the wipers when the windshield has snow 
on it may indicate a wiper defect.
    The proposed definition would not include routine marketing 
documents or documents relating to surveys of owner satisfaction. It 
would include all notifications, product improvement or technical 
service bulletins, advisories, and other communications regarding the 
subject matter that are issued to, or made available to, more than one 
vehicle or equipment dealer, distributor, lessor, lessee, other 
manufacturer or owner involving any systems or components in the 
vehicle or equipment, not merely the specified components for which 
reports must be submitted regarding property damage claims, consumer 
complaints, warranty claims, or field reports. This would include any 
category of information relating to the replacement or repair of a 
vehicle or vehicle component, or the way a vehicle or vehicle equipment 
item is to be maintained or operated, whether or not there has been any 
determination by the manufacturer that these actions pertain to or are 
being undertaken because of a defect or a safety-related concern.
    In our view, this requirement is similar to although somewhat 
broader than the notices, bulletins, and other communications that for 
years have been required to be submitted by 49 CFR 573.8 (2001). Under 
Section 573.8, a manufacturer might argue that a condition that was the 
subject of a communication to dealers or others did not rise to the 
level of a ``defect'' or ``malfunction,'' and that it therefore did not 
have to provide copies of such a communication to NHTSA. Under early 
warning reporting, it would have to provide these related notices 
regardless of whether a ``defect'' potentially was indicated.
    Nevertheless, because of these similarities, we proposed to 
implement this aspect of early warning reporting by including it in the 
same section as current Section 573.8, which is being moved to a new 
Section 579.5. This new Section 579.5 would also apply to all 
manufacturers of vehicles and equipment, which are currently required 
to submit copies of similar communications to NHTSA on a monthly basis. 
We anticipate that there will be relatively few documents covered by 
this proposal that would not have been covered under Section 573.8. We 
also proposed to require a cover letter for each monthly submission of 
documents required to be submitted under proposed Section 579.5 that 
identifies each communication in the submission by name or subject 
matter and date.
    If a communication falls within the category described in both 
Section 579.5(a) and Section 579.5(b), it will only have to be 
submitted once.
    MEMA, SEMA, the Alliance, AIAM, NADA, and Utilimaster commented on 
the proposed definition. All asserted that the definition is too broad.
    The Alliance stated that the information that NHTSA obtains under 
the existing Sections 573.5(c)(9) and 573.8 should be sufficient and 
would be `` * * * virtually all of the information proposed to be 
required by the proposed Part 579.5.'' NADA is also concerned that the 
definition is overly broad, noting that ``the purpose of Section 
30166(m)(3)(A)(ii) of the TREAD Act was to require manufacturers to 
report on service or repair `campaign' activities beyond those falling 
within Section 30166(f), not to require every day-to-day manufacturer-
dealer service/repair/ and parts communication.'' NADA suggested that 
the definition be restricted to ``campaigns'' and that ``non-`Campaign' 
communications involving business information (sales promotions, 
financials, etc.), normal service and repair information, tools and 
equipment information, etc. should not be covered.'' NADA would also 
limit the information to ``safety-related issues,'' commenting that 
``Clearly, `campaign' communications involving radio tuning features or 
leather seating color fade should not have to be reported.''
    We acknowledged the breadth of the definition in both the ANPRM and 
NPRM (see p. 66206), saying that `` * * * this new section is broader 
than 49 CFR 573.8 (2001) (which implements Section 30166(f) * * * .'' 
However, we also stated that ``the proposed definition would not 
include routine marketing documents or documents relating to surveys of 
owner satisfaction.'' See p. 66207.
    The first part of the definition, covering repair or replacement of 
a vehicle or equipment was derived from 49 U.S.C. 30166(m)(3)(A)(ii).
    The second part of the definition, ``the manner in which a vehicle 
or equipment is to be maintained or operated,'' could, as acknowledged 
in the preamble, cover a number of issues that are not necessarily 
safety-related. The Alliance, AIAM, Utilimaster, SEMA, and MEMA 
commented that this might require manufacturers to submit 
communications on a wide variety of topics that have no safety-related 
relationship. Utilimaster asserted that instructions to the owners 
either at delivery of the vehicle such as in an owner's manual or in a 
follow-up communication, should be omitted. It believes that the agency 
would become ``* * * an instructional manual repository requiring 
storage facilities of heroic proportions * * *.'' We agree with a 
concern expressed in the comment. We do not view the routine provision 
of instructional documents with new products as a ``communication'' of 
the kind that would assist in the identification of defects relating to 
motor vehicle safety. Ordinarily, manufacturers do not knowingly 
produce defective products and instruct owners in how to avoid 
triggering the defect. What may be important to safety under the rule 
are post-sale advisories sent to owners that may run counter to the 
instructions initially given, such as a change in recommended tire 
pressures, or a shortened maintenance schedule. MEMA recommended that 
``the manner in which a vehicle or equipment is to be maintained and 
operated'' be revised to address only post-sale conditions and have the 
following inserted: ``(excluding materials such as promotional 
information, operating instructions, or

[[Page 45858]]

owner's manuals which accompany the vehicle or equipment at the time of 
first sale).'' We agree with the thrust of this recommendation.
    SEMA and MEMA are concerned that equipment manufacturers would have 
to report many communications that would be of virtually no value. To 
address this, we are modifying the second part of the definition to 
apply to only those equipment manufacturers who produce child restraint 
systems. Instead of the phrase ``the manner in which a vehicle or 
equipment is to be operated,'' that we proposed, we are adopting the 
phrase ``the manner in which a vehicle or child restraint is to be 
operated.''
    No one commented specifically about the third part of the 
definition, the phrase ``advice or direction to a dealer or distributor 
to cease the delivery or sale of specified models of vehicles or 
equipment,'' and we are retaining it in the final definition.
    For the reasons stated above, the final rule contains the following 
definition of ``customer satisfaction campaign, consumer advisory, 
recall, or other activity involving the repair or replacement of motor 
vehicles or motor vehicle equipment:''

any communication by a manufacturer to, or made available to, more 
than one dealer, distributor, lessor, lessee, other manufacturer, or 
owner, whether in writing or by electronic means, relating to 
repair, replacement, or modification of a vehicle, component of a 
vehicle, item of equipment, or a component thereof, the manner in 
which a vehicle or child restraint system is to be maintained or 
operated (excluding promotional and marketing materials, customer 
satisfaction surveys, and operating instructions or owner's manuals 
that accompany the vehicle or child restraint system at the time of 
first sale), or advice or direction to a dealer or distributor to 
cease the delivery or sale of specified models of vehicles or 
equipment.

N. Components and Systems Covered by Reports.

    As discussed in Section III.B above, we proposed five discrete 
vehicle categories, and are adopting four of them in the final rule, 
having consolidated buses with medium-heavy vehicles. We attempted to 
identify, for each category of vehicle, for child restraint systems, 
and for tires, those systems and components whose failures are most 
likely to lead to safety recalls. These are the systems and components 
on which it is most important that we obtain timely information 
regarding failures, as compared to failures that are not related to 
safety or those that rarely, if ever, lead to safety recalls.
    In identifying these vehicle systems and components, we requested 
the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe) to conduct an 
analysis of past defect recalls. For each category of vehicle, Volpe 
looked at, among others, the total number of defect recalls associated 
with various vehicle-specific systems and components, the number of 
vehicles covered by those recalls, the number of recalls influenced by 
ODI investigations, and the number of recalled vehicles influenced by 
ODI investigations.
    The study provided information on different components and systems 
implicated in recalls for light vehicles, medium-heavy vehicles, buses, 
motorcycles, and trailers. A copy of the study, which includes a 
description of the methodology, is in the docket. The underlying data 
are in NHTSA's DIMS II database, the relevant portions of which can be 
searched by the public through the NHTSA website. The components and 
systems are identified below as part of the discussion on reporting 
requirements.
    For light vehicles, we proposed to require manufacturers to 
separately report the number of problems/incidents related to steering, 
suspension, service brakes, parking brakes, engine and engine cooling 
system, fuel system, power train, electrical system, lighting, visual 
systems, climate control system including defroster, airbags (including 
but not limited to frontal, side, head protection, and curtains that 
deploy in a crash), seat belts (including anchorages and other related 
components), structure (other than latches), seats, engine speed 
control including throttle and cruise control, integrated child 
restraint systems, latches (door, hood, hatch), tires, wheels, trailer 
hitches and related attachments, and the number of incidents in which 
there was a fire. For incidents of death and injury only, if another 
system or component is allegedly involved or if the system or component 
is not specified in the claim or notice, the incident would be 
included, and ``other'' would be specified.
    For medium-heavy vehicles and for buses/school buses, we proposed 
to require manufacturers to separately report the number of problems/
incidents relating to steering, suspension, service brakes, parking 
brake, engine and engine cooling system, fuel system, power train, 
electrical system, lighting, visual systems, climate control system 
including defroster, airbags (including but not limited to frontal, 
side, head protection, and curtains that deploy in a crash), seat belts 
including anchorages and other related components, structure (other 
than latches), seats, engine speed control including cruise control, 
latches (door, hood, hatch), tires, wheels, trailer hitches and related 
attachments, engine exhaust system, the number of incidents in which 
there was a fire, and, for incidents of death only, if another system 
or component is allegedly involved or if the system or component is not 
specified in the claim or notice. Because manufacturers of medium-heavy 
vehicles and buses would be required to report problems with the same 
identified components, we have decided to consolidate them into a 
single category.
    In the final rule, we have decided to reduce the burden upon light 
vehicle manufacturers by not requiring separate reports involving 
integrated child seat systems (which are now included in the definition 
of seats), or by requiring reporting on trailer hitches and climate 
control systems. We are also not requiring medium-heavy vehicle and bus 
manufacturers to report on climate control systems. As discussed below, 
however, both types of manufacturers will have to separately report 
incidents, etc., involving rollover.
    For trailers, we proposed to require manufacturers to separately 
report the number of problems/incidents relating to suspension, service 
brakes, parking brakes, electrical system, lighting/horns/alarms, 
climate control systems (including fuel systems in camping/travel 
trailers), structure (other than latches), latches, tires, wheels, 
trailer hitches and related attachments, the number of incidents in 
which there was a fire, and, for incidents of death only, if another 
system or component is allegedly involved or if the system or component 
is not specified in the claim or notice. In the final rule, we are 
retaining all these proposed systems and components except for climate 
control systems.
    Finally, for motorcycles, we proposed to require manufacturers to 
separately report the number of problems/incidents relating to 
steering, suspension, service brakes, engine and engine cooling system, 
fuel system, power train, electrical system, lighting, structure, 
engine speed control (including throttle and cruise control), wheels, 
tires, the number of incidents in which there was a fire, and, for 
incidents of death only, if another system or component is allegedly 
involved or if the system or component is not specified in the claim or 
notice. In the final rule, we are retaining all

[[Page 45859]]

these proposed systems and components.
    With respect to reporting of incidents involving deaths and 
injuries, if the component or system identified in the claim or notice 
is other than a component or system for which reporting is specified, 
the manufacturer will enter the code ``98.'' If the component or system 
is not specified in the claim or notice (i.e., is unknown to the 
manufacturer), the manufacturer shall use the code ``99.'' (Other code 
numbers are discussed later.)
    For incidents involving deaths and/or injuries, we have added a 
column with the heading of ``ID.'' Manufacturers must identify each 
separate incident with a unique, consecutive number. This will allow 
both ODI and the manufacturer to readily identify and refer to a 
specific incident. This will be particularly useful in those rare cases 
in which a manufacturer needs to update the incident report (as 
discussed below).
    We proposed definitions for many of the systems and components for 
which reporting would be required. While we believed that these 
definitions were straight forward and self-explanatory, we requested 
comments on their accuracy and completeness. In some instances, we did 
not propose definitions because the need for a definition had not been 
clear, based on the ANPRM. However, in light of the comments on the 
NPRM requesting greater specificity, we are setting forth definitions 
for each category for which reporting will be required. In some cases, 
these are based on definitions recommended by the Alliance in its 
comments.
    01. We did not propose a definition for ``Steering System'' in the 
NPRM. For the final rule, we have defined ``Steering System'' to mean

    all steering control system components, including the steering 
system mechanism and its associated hardware, the steering wheel, 
steering column, steering shaft, linkages, joints (including tie-rod 
ends), steering dampeners, and power steering assist systems. This 
term includes a steering control system as defined by FMVSS No. 203 
and any subsystem or component of a steering control system, 
including those components defined in FMVSS No. 204. This term also 
includes all associated switches, control units, connective elements 
(such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting 
elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    This definition generally follows the language suggested by the 
Alliance. It should be noted that the Alliance recommended joining 
steering, suspension, and wheels together in a single category, 
believing that the systems overlap. While we recognize that the three 
areas are related, we believe they are more properly subdivided into 
discrete categories that can be analyzed separately. Otherwise, unusual 
problems in one area might be masked by normal problem experience in 
the other areas.
    02. ``Suspension System'' means

    all components and hardware associated with a vehicle suspension 
system, including the associated control arms, steering knuckles, 
spindles, joints, bushings, ball joints, springs, shock absorbers, 
stabilizer (anti sway) bars, and bearings that are designed to 
minimize the impact on the vehicle chassis of shocks from road 
surface irregularities that may be transmitted through the wheels, 
and to provide stability when the vehicle is being operated through 
a range of speed, load, and dynamic conditions. The term also 
includes all electronic control systems and mechanisms for active 
suspension control, as well as all associated components such as 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring 
harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.) and mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    This is essentially the definition that we proposed. Our definition 
as adopted incorporates the Alliance recommendation, except that, as 
noted above, we have divided steering, suspension, and wheels into 
three separate categories. We have also expanded this definition 
slightly to include electronic control systems and mechanisms for 
active suspension control, as well as all associated components such as 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, 
hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as brackets, 
fasteners, etc.).
    03, 04. We did not propose a definition of ``Service Brake System'' 
in the NPRM. After reviewing the Alliance's suggested definition, we 
have decided that this term will mean

    all components of the service braking system of a motor vehicle 
intended for the transfer of braking application force from the 
operator to the wheels of a vehicle, including the foundation 
braking system, such as the brake pedal, master cylinder, fluid 
lines and hoses, braking assist components, brake calipers, wheel 
cylinders, brake discs, brake drums, brake pads, brake shoes, and 
other related equipment installed in a motor vehicle in order to 
comply with FMVSS Nos. 105, 121, 122, or 135. This term also 
includes systems and devices for automatic control of the brake 
system such as antilock braking, traction control, stability 
control, and enhanced braking. The term includes all associated 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring 
harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    This definition is similar to that suggested by the Alliance, 
except that the parking brake has been placed in a separate category.
    As discussed above, manufacturers of medium-heavy vehicles, buses, 
and trailers must subdivide their reports on service brake system 
issues into ``hydraulic'' and ``air'' brake systems. Code 03 should be 
used to refer to hydraulic service brakes on these vehicles and all 
service brake reports on light vehicles and motorcycles. Code 04 should 
be used to refer to air service brake systems on medium-heavy vehicles, 
buses, and trailers utilizing air service brakes or air-over-hydraulic 
brake systems. If a medium-heavy vehicle, bus, or trailer has a type of 
service brake system not readily categorized as an ``air'' or 
``hydraulic'' brake system (e.g., electric brakes), the manufacturer 
should indicate hydraulic service brakes on its report (Code 03).
    05. We are adopting the definition we proposed for ``Parking 
Brake,'' with certain revisions recommended by the Alliance. ``Parking 
Brake'' means

    a mechanism installed in a motor vehicle which is designed to 
prevent the movement of a stationary motor vehicle, including all 
associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as 
wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such 
as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    This term does not include automatic transmission interlock 
components or pawls. Those components are part of the power train, 
which is addressed separately. Contrary to the Alliance's suggestion, 
we believe that the function and performance of the parking brake is 
sufficiently distinct to warrant separate reporting, even though 
certain elements of the service brake system may be shared by the 
parking brake. Where there is doubt, the manufacturer should attribute 
the incident to the vehicle's service brake system.
    06. We did not propose a definition for ``Engine and Engine 
Cooling.'' The Alliance contended that the category is unneeded because 
incidents that would be reported under it would be reported under other 
categories. The Alliance asserted, however, that if this were to be 
maintained as a separate category, the definition needs to clarify 
where the fuel system ends and the engine begins. To do so, we are 
defining ``Engine and Engine Cooling'' to mean

the component (e.g., motor) providing motive power to a vehicle, and 
include the exhaust system (including the exhaust emission system), 
the engine control unit, engine lubrication system, and the 
underhood cooling system for that engine. This term also includes 
all associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as 
wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such 
as brackets, fasteners, etc.).


[[Page 45860]]


    07, 08, 09. We did not propose a definition for ``Fuel System'' in 
the NPRM. However, we have developed a definition based on the 
Alliance's recommendation. ``Fuel System'' means

all components used to receive and store fuel, and to transfer fuel 
between the vehicle's fuel storage, engine, or fuel emission 
systems. This term includes, but is not limited to, the fuel tank 
and filler cap, neck, and pipe, along with associated piping, hoses, 
and clamps, the fuel pump, fuel lines, connectors from the fuel tank 
to the engine, the fuel injection/carburetion system (including the 
fuel injector rails and injectors), and the fuel vapor recovery 
system(s), canister(s), and vent lines. The term also includes all 
associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as 
wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such 
as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    For medium-heavy vehicles and buses, manufacturers must report 
separately for vehicles powered by gasoline (07), diesel (08), and 
other (09) types of fuel. For light vehicles and motorcycles, all fuel 
system reports shall be coded as 07.

    10. We are defining ``Power Train'' to mean

the components or systems of a motor vehicle which transfer motive 
power from the engine to the wheels, including the transmission 
(manual and automatic), gear selection devices and associated 
linkages, clutch, constant velocity joints, transfer case, 
driveline, differential(s), and all driven axle assemblies. The term 
also includes all associated switches, control units, connective 
elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and 
mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    This was essentially the definition we proposed. The Alliance 
agreed with it, but suggested adding the clarifying exclusion that it 
``does not include any component of the suspension or steering 
system.'' We believe that this is unnecessary, as neither the 
suspension nor the steering system ``transfer motive power from the 
engine to the wheels.'' For consistency with other definitions, as 
discussed above, we are adding a reference to ``all associated 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, 
hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as brackets, 
fasteners, etc.).''
    11. We did not propose a definition of ``Electrical System.'' We 
are adopting the definition suggested by the Alliance, except that we 
are adding a specific reference to the ignition system, and, for 
consistency, a reference to ``all associated switches, control units, 
connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), 
and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).'' Therefore, 
``Electrical System'' means

any electrical or electronic component of a motor vehicle that is 
not included in one of the other enumerated reporting categories, 
and specifically includes the battery, battery cables, alternator, 
fuses, and main body wiring harnesses of the motor vehicle and the 
ignition system, including the ignition switch and starter motor. 
The term also includes all associated switches, control units, 
connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), 
and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    12. We did not propose a definition of ``Exterior Lighting'' in the 
NPRM. For clarity, we are defining ``Exterior Lighting'' to mean

all the exterior lamps (including any interior-mounted center 
highmounted stop lamp if mounted in the interior of a vehicle), 
lenses, reflective systems, and associated components of a motor 
vehicle, including all associated switches, control units, 
connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, piping, etc.), and 
mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    The Alliance recommended not including a category regarding 
lighting as a separate component/system and was concerned about how, if 
included, ``lighting'' would be distinguished from ``Electrical 
System.'' This definition addresses the questions posed by the 
Alliance. Compare with Item 11 above.
    13. We proposed a definition of ``Visual Systems'' which we are 
calling ``Visibility'' in the final rule. Visibility means

the systems and components of a motor vehicle through which a driver 
views the surroundings of the vehicle including windshield, side 
windows, back window, and rear view mirrors, and systems and 
components used to wash and wipe windshields and back windows. This 
term includes those vehicular systems and components that can affect 
the ability of the driver to clearly see the roadway and surrounding 
area, such as the systems and components identified in FMVSS No. 
103, 104, and 111. This term also includes the defogger/defroster 
system, the heater core, blower fan, windshield wiper systems, 
mirrors, windows and glazing material, heads-up display (HUD) 
systems, and exterior view-based television systems, but does not 
include exterior lighting systems which are defined under 
``Lighting.'' The term also includes all associated switches, 
control units, connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, 
piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, 
etc.).

    The Alliance suggested that it was not necessary to establish this 
as a separate code. However, the components and systems covered under 
this definition, encompassing wipers, washers, and defrosters as well 
as the windows, have often been the subject of defect investigations 
and recalls, and problems in this area should be reported.
    14. We did not propose a definition for ``Air Bags,'' but have 
provided one here for clarity. The definition incorporates the 
definition suggested by the Alliance, but is somewhat broader. We did 
not intend to limit the specific definition to relate only to ``Air 
Bags,'' but also to address all automatic safety restraint systems. 
Therefore, for purposes of this rule, ``Air Bags'' means

an air bag or other automatic occupant restraint device (other than 
a ``seat belt'' as defined in this subpart) installed in a motor 
vehicle that restrains an occupant in the event of a vehicle crash 
without requiring any action on the part of the occupant to obtain 
the benefit of the restraint. This term includes inflatable 
restraints (front and side air bags), knee bolsters, and any other 
automatic restraining device that may be developed that does not 
include a restraining belt or harness. This term also includes all 
air bag-related components, such as the inflator assembly, air bag 
module, control module, crash sensors, and all hardware and software 
associated with the air bag. This term includes all associated 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring 
harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    15. We did not propose a definition for ``Seat Belts,'' but one is 
now provided for clarity. We have incorporated the definition suggested 
by the Alliance. ``Seat Belts'' means

any belt system, other than an air bag, that may or may not require 
the occupant to latch, fasten, or secure the components of the seat 
belt/webbing based restraint system to ready its use for protection 
of the occupant in the event of a vehicle crash. This term includes 
the webbing, buckle, anchorage, retractor, belt pretensioner 
devices, load limiters, and all components, hardware and software 
associated with a non-automatic seat belt system addressed by FMVSS 
Nos. 209 or 210. This term also includes integrated child restraint 
systems in vehicles, and includes any device (and all components of 
that device) installed in a motor vehicle in accordance with FMVSS 
No. 213, which is designed for use as a safety restraint device for 
a child too small to use a vehicle's seat belts. This term includes 
all vehicle components installed in accordance with FMVSS No. 225. 
This term also includes all associated switches, control units, 
connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), 
and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    16. We are adopting a definition of ``Structure,'' as

    any part of a motor vehicle that serves to maintain the shape 
and size of the vehicle, including the frame, the floorpan, the 
body, bumpers, doors, tailgate, hatchback, trunk lid, hood, and 
roof. The term also includes all associated mounting elements (such 
as brackets, fasteners, etc.)


[[Page 45861]]


    The Alliance did not believe a separate category for ``structure'' 
was necessary. However, we believe that it is important to obtain 
information about problems with a vehicle's structure, since many other 
systems and components attach to the structure.
    17. We are adopting a definition of ``Latch'' to mean

    a latching, locking, or linking system of a motor vehicle and 
all its components fitted to a vehicle's exterior doors, rear hatch, 
liftgate, tailgate, trunk, or hood. This term includes, but is not 
limited to, devices for the remote operation of a latching device 
such as remote release cables (and associated components), electric 
release devices, or wireless control release devices, and includes 
all components covered in FMVSS No. 206. This term also includes all 
associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as 
wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such 
as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    As a modification of the definition we proposed, we have added 
``locking'' and ``linking'' to ``latching,'' since latching systems, as 
a general rule, include linking and locking components. As modified, 
this definition incorporates the recommendations made by the Alliance.
    18. We are adopting the definition we proposed for ``Vehicle Speed 
Control,'' which means

    the systems and components of a motor vehicle that control 
vehicle speed, either by command of the operator or by automatic 
control, including, but not limited to, the accelerator pedal, 
linkages, cables, springs, speed control devices (such as cruise 
control) and speed limiting devices. This term includes, but is not 
limited to, the items addressed by FMVSS No. 124, and includes all 
associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as 
wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such 
as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    19. We did not propose a definition of tire, but are adopting one 
in the final rule. ``Tire'' means

    an item of motor vehicle equipment intended to interface between 
the road and a motor vehicle. The term includes all the tires of the 
vehicle, including the spare tire. This term also includes tire 
valves, tubes, and tire pressure monitoring and regulating systems, 
as well as all associated switches, control units, connective 
elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and 
mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    20. We did not propose a definition of ``Wheel'' in the NPRM. For 
clarity, we are defining the term ``Wheel'' to mean

    the assembly or component of a motor vehicle to which a tire is 
mounted. The term includes any item of motor vehicle equipment used 
to attach the wheel to the vehicle, including inner cap nuts and the 
wheel studs, bolts, and nuts.

    The Alliance recommended incorporating the ``Wheel'' component with 
``Steering'' and ``Suspension,'' but, as discussed above, we believe 
that it is more appropriate to separate these categories.
    21. We did not propose a definition of ``Trailer Hitch.'' By 
``Trailer Hitch'' we mean

    all coupling systems, devices, and components thereof, designed 
to join or connect any two motor vehicles. This system also includes 
any associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as 
wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such 
as brackets, fasteners, etc.).

    We are requiring reports on trailer hitches only for medium-heavy 
vehicles/buses and trailers, even though some light vehicles contain 
such hitches. Manufacturers of light vehicles and motorcycles are not 
required to report on trailer hitches because most of the hitches for 
these vehicles are installed by dealers or installed by the owner as an 
aftermarket add-on. As such, they are equipment items. No commenter 
addressed this component.
    22. We did not propose to define ``Seats.'' By ``Seats,'' we mean

    all components of a motor vehicle that are subject to FMVSS Nos. 
202, 207, and S9 of 209, including all electrical and electronic 
components within the seat that are related to seat positioning, 
heating, and cooling. This term also includes all associated 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring 
harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).

This definition is based on the definition provided by the Alliance.
    23. The Alliance did not agree with our proposed definition of 
``fire,'' and suggested that ``fire'' be defined as ``a rapid, 
persistent chemical change that releases heat and light and is 
accompanied by flame, especially the exothermic oxidation of a 
combustible substance.'' We had proposed that ``fire'' be defined as 
``combustion of any material in a vehicle as evidenced by, but not 
limited to, flame, smoke, sparks, or smoldering.'' The Alliance 
commented that ``sparks'' are the normal byproduct of any rotating 
electrical component and which occur in normal vehicle operation, such 
as the working of a starter motor. Moreover, the definition would 
include complaints of ``smoke,'' and ``smoldering,'' which the Alliance 
does not believe need to be tracked for early warning purposes. We are 
retaining these words. Smoke commonly results from burning. We construe 
``smoldering'' as burning with little smoke and no flames. We construe 
``sparks'' as incandescent particles thrown off from a burning 
substance. See The American Heritage Dictionary. Each of these 
conditions is indicative of a fire or a potential fire. The type of 
sparking for which the Alliance provided examples generally occurs as a 
part of normal vehicle operation and is generally not visible to the 
driver or passengers. We deem it highly unlikely that this type of 
spark will be reported to the manufacturer. Therefore, in the final 
rule, we are defining fire much as we proposed it, except that we are 
adding ``or burning'' after ``combustion.'' ``Fire'' means ``combustion 
or burning of any material in a vehicle as evidence by, but not limited 
to, flame, smoke, sparks, or smoldering.''
    24. We have decided to add an additional reporting category, 
``rollover.'' The failure of various components can lead to a rollover, 
so none of the other specified systems and components is likely to 
capture all claims, notices, complaints, etc. about rollover. 
(Moreover, some claims of rollover assert that the overall design of 
the vehicle in question is defective, without referring to any 
particular system or component.) Also, it is noteworthy that one major 
impetus for the early warning provisions in the TREAD Act was the lack 
of information available to NHTSA about incidents, including fatal 
crashes, involving rollover after a tire tread separation. To avoid 
corrupting the data, we are limiting this category to single-vehicle 
crashes. Moreover, it will apply only to light vehicle and medium-heavy 
vehicles including buses.
    Although NHTSA has not previously defined ``rollover,'' FMVSS No. 
301, Fuel System Integrity, includes a static rollover test (S6.4) in 
which a vehicle is rotated on its longitudinal axis to successive 
increments of 90 degrees. This forms the basis for our defining 
``rollover'' for this rule as ``a single-vehicle crash in which a 
vehicle rotates on its longitudinal axis to at least 90 degrees, 
regardless of whether it comes to rest on its wheels.'' This will 
encompass situations in which a vehicle rolls over on its side as well 
as those in which it rolls over on its roof.
    With regard to child restraint systems, ODI conducted a review to 
identify the components whose failures have led to most of the recalls. 
Based on this review, which has been placed in the docket, we proposed 
to require manufacturers to separately report the number of problems/
incidents relating to the buckle and restraint harness, handle, seat 
shell, and base. We proposed definitions for these components, except 
for the handle.

[[Page 45862]]

    JPMA commented that the term ``pads'' (restraint pads) and 
``padding'' were used in two of our proposed definitions, and asked 
that these terms be stricken since these components are rarely 
associated with a safety risk and are often the subject of complaints 
unrelated to safety. We agree with JPMA, and the final definitions do 
not include these terms. Our own review of the term ``shield'' shows 
that it appears in the definitions of both ``buckle and restraint 
harness'' and ``seat shell.'' As only one is necessary, we are 
including ``shield'' in the definition of ``buckle and restraint 
harness'' and specifically excluding it from ``seat shell.''
    With respect to tires, we proposed to follow the suggestions of RMA 
in its comments, and by and large the final rule does so. Fatality and 
injury reporting will include the information required of manufacturers 
of other products, and will also include the damage claimed, the 
vehicle manufacturer, the vehicle make, model and model year, the tire 
size, the tire line, and the TIN.
    We specifically requested RMA to provide its comments on 
appropriate definitions of the terms ``bead,'' ``common green,'' ``tire 
line,'' ``sidewall,'' ``SKU,'' and ``serial code'', and it did so. We 
have adopted those suggestions.
    ``Bead'' is defined as

all the materials in a tire below the sidewalls in the rim contact 
area, including bead rubber components, the bead bundle and rubber 
coating if present, the body ply and its turn-up including the 
rubber coating, rubber, fabric, or metallic bead reinforcing 
materials, and the inner-liner rubber under the bead area.

    The proposed definition of ``common green'' has been modified to 
read as follows:

    Tires that are produced to the same internal specifications but 
that have, or may have, different external characteristics and may 
be sold under different tire line names.

    ``Tire line'' is defined as ``the entire name used by a tire 
manufacturer to designate a tire product, including all prefixes and 
suffixes as they appear on the sidewall of the tire.''
    The term ``sidewall'' includes ``The sidewall rubber components, 
the body ply and its coating rubber under the side areas, and the 
inner-liner rubber under the body ply in the side area.''
    ``SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)'' is defined as ``the alpha-numeric or 
numeric designation assigned by a manufacturer to a tire product.''
    We also asked for a definition of ``serial code,'' a term RMA used 
on its draft warranty and property damage claim reporting forms. Upon 
further consideration, and in order to use a term familiar to both 
NHTSA and the industry, RMA will use the term ``tire type code'' on 
these forms. This corresponds to the third grouping of identification 
requirements as specified in 49 CFR 574.5(c), and, therefore, no 
further identification is needed in this rule.
    Finally, we are adopting RMA's recommended definition for ``tread'' 
or ``crown.'' That term means:

    All materials in the tread area of the tire, including the 
rubber that makes up the tread, the subbase rubber, when present, 
between the tread base and the top of the belts, the belt material, 
either steel and/or fabric, and the rubber coating of the same, 
including any rubber inserts, the body ply and its coating rubber 
under the tread area of the tire; and the inner-liner rubber under 
the tread.

    For property damage claims and warranty adjustments, we proposed to 
require tire manufacturers to separately report the number of problems/
incidents relating to tread, sidewall, and bead. For incidents 
involving death, if another component is allegedly involved, or if the 
component is not specified in the claim, the incident will still have 
to be reported.
    RMA proposed a format for submitting data concerning total tire 
production, warranty production, number of property damage claims and 
number of adjustments. This sample format is shown on the document 
filed in the docket, NHTSA 2001-8677-102, Attachment B-2. NHTSA accepts 
this suggestion from RMA for submitting production, property damage 
claims, and warranty adjustment data. However, we do not want tire 
manufacturers to submit adjustment rate and property damage rate data 
as shown on the RMA sample format. Therefore, the template that will be 
adopted for tire manufacturers to submit data will be congruent with 
the RMA suggestion, but will not include rate data.
    RMA also suggested that we require tire manufacturers to provide a 
list of ``common green'' tires. This is needed so that we are aware of 
various tire lines, including house brands, that are of identical 
construction, so we can get a fuller picture as to the failure 
experiences of relevant tires. We have therefore added a new Section 
579.26(d) to require submission of such a list with each quarterly 
report.
    Consistent with the approach taken in connection with the Uniform 
Tire Quality Grading Standards (UTQGS), 49 CFR 575.104, we did not 
propose to require reporting of warranty adjustments, property damage 
claims, and field reports with respect to tires for which total annual 
production of the same design and size is 15,000 or less. RMA did not 
comment on this. After further consideration, we have decided that 
simply establishing a 15,0900 tire threshold would raise too many 
difficult issues that would require additional interpretation. We will 
accomplish the same objective, however, by simply referencing the 
``Application'' provisions of the UTQGS, 49 CFR 575.104(c)(1), which 
contain an exception for, among other things, ``limited production 
tires'' as defined in Section 575.104(c)(2).
    RMA also commented that the early warning proposed rule would cover 
tires for all motor vehicles, but that ``the obligation to submit early 
warning information for non-passenger and light truck tires presents a 
host of issues not addressed in the NPRM, requiring further information 
from the industry.'' In separate comments submitted to the docket 
(Comment NHTSA 01-8677-101), RMA addressed an early warning reporting 
system for these tires, ``which suggests that, at the very least, the 
implementation of the early warning reporting requirements for these 
tires be delayed for at least one year.'' As an example, RMA referred 
to ``medium radial truck tires,'' and commented that this category 
comprises new and retreaded tires (which may have a different 
manufacturer from the tire casing). Warranty periods for these tires 
vary according to contract terms, and the tires are professionally 
serviced. RMA would exclude these tires from all reporting except for 
incidents of death.
    We concur with RMA's view that this segment of the tire industry 
requires further study, which may warrant regulation for early warning 
purposes in a manner that differs from that accorded tires for other 
motor vehicles. Accordingly, we are adopting the RMA recommendation to 
only require full reporting under Section 579.26(a) and (c) for 
passenger car tires, light truck tires, and motorcycle tires. However, 
reports about incidents involving deaths must be submitted for all 
tires.

O. Updating of Information

    Several commenters addressed the issue of whether NHTSA will 
require updating of reports of incidents involving death or injury if 
there are changed circumstances or if the manufacturer was not aware of 
certain relevant information at the time the report was initially 
submitted to us. We are adopting Section 579.28(f) to address this 
issue. We recognize the burden associated with tracking the progress of 
claims and litigation to identify a broad range of newly

[[Page 45863]]

discovered information. However, some information that may not be known 
to the manufacturer at the time of the initial report is so vital that 
we need to receive it if it subsequently becomes available. If a 
manufacturer indicates in its initial report that no system or 
component has been identified in a claim or notice and later becomes 
aware that a specified system or component allegedly contributed to the 
incident, the manufacturer must submit a supplemental report regarding 
that incident in the report covering the reporting period in which the 
information was obtained.
    In addition, if a vehicle manufacturer is not aware of the VIN, or 
a tire manufacturer is not aware of the TIN, at the time the incident 
is originally reported to us, the manufacturer must submit a 
supplemental report regarding that incident in the report covering the 
reporting period in which the VIN or TIN is identified. No other 
updating will be required. For example, if a manufacturer has reported 
an incident to us involving an injury and the injured person later 
dies, we will not require a supplemental report. This last scenario was 
specifically identified by several commenters as possibly creating a 
significant burden.

P. One-Time Reporting of Historical Information

    In the NPRM, we expressed concern that, as early warning reporting 
begins, receipt by NHTSA of information from the first several 
reporting periods would not provide sufficient information to allow us 
to identify safety defect trends unless we could compare it to similar 
information about earlier periods. To maximize the usefulness of the 
data from the onset of reporting, we want to ``seed'' our data base 
with historical data rather than merely letting it accumulate from the 
time of the initial report. Therefore, we proposed that, no later than 
the date that a manufacturer must submit its first reports under the 
final rule, which we expected to be April 30, 2003, each manufacturer 
would also submit, on a one-time basis, corresponding reports 
reflecting the same information required by paragraphs (a) and (c) in 
each of proposed Sections 579.21 through 579.27, providing information 
on production and on the numbers of property damage claims, consumer 
complaints, warranty claims, and field reports, as applicable, that it 
received in each calendar quarter from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 
2002, for each model and model year vehicle manufactured in model years 
1994 through 2003, and for child restraint systems and tire 
manufactured on or after January 1, 1998. Each report would identify 
the alleged system or component related to the claim, incident, etc., 
as would the reports for the current reporting period.
    We requested comment on whether the time frame for the proposal is 
appropriate, and whether we should exclude historical data for deaths 
and injuries. Many commenters objected to this proposal on the grounds 
that it would be excessively burdensome. A discussion of these comments 
and our estimate of the burdens of several alternative approaches is 
contained in the Final Regulatory Evaluation (FRE) for this rulemaking, 
which has been placed in the docket. We note, however, that some 
manufacturers erroneously believed that we had proposed to require 
submission of copies of the older field reports. We had not done so.
    RMA objected to the proposal that tire manufacturers provide data, 
on a quarterly basis, for a period commencing January 1, 1998. It 
suggested yearly production information beginning with that date, and 
commented that ``for property damage claims and warranty adjustments, 
an accumulation of all claims and adjustments received in years 2000 
through 2002 should be reported for each tire line and size for each 
year of production.'' In our view, yearly data are not sufficient, 
since the purpose of obtaining this historical data is to allow us to 
make comparisons with currently quarterly information submitted in the 
first several years of this program. And simply dividing the yearly 
totals by four is not adequate, since there are often seasonal 
differences, particularly for tires.
    We have thoroughly considered the comments on this issue and, in 
order to minimize the burden upon manufacturers, have decided to 
significantly reduce the amount of historical information to be 
submitted under this provision. We will not require the submission of 
the numbers of historical consumer complaints (which the commenters 
deemed most burdensome) or property damage claims. In addition, in 
response to requests from several commenters, we have delayed the date 
for submission of this information so that it is due one month after 
the initial quarterly report (i.e., on September 30, 2003).
    The final rule requires that a manufacturer shall file 12 separate 
reports, providing information on the number of warranty claims or 
adjustments, and the number of field reports that it received in each 
of the 12 calendar quarters from April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2003, for 
vehicles manufactured in model years 1994 through 2003 (including any 
vehicles designated as 2004 models), for child restraint systems 
manufactured on or after April 1, 1998, and for tires manufactured on 
or after April 1, 1998. The manufacturers generally did not object to 
providing warranty data, and we believe that field reports will provide 
the richest data. We emphasize again that copies of these older field 
reports need not be submitted.

V. When Information Must Be Reported

    Section 30166(m)(3)(A) and (B) state that the information covered 
by those paragraphs shall be reported ``periodically or upon request'' 
by NHTSA. Section 30166(m)(3)(C) states that the information covered by 
that paragraph shall be reported ``in such manner as [NHTSA] 
establishes by regulation.'' The ANPRM and NPRM discussed several 
possibilities.

A. Periodically

    The statute authorizes us to require periodic reporting of 
information related to the early warning of defects. In the ANPRM, we 
discussed the options of reporting on bases of ``information-as-
received,'' monthly, and quarterly, depending upon the gravity of the 
information involved (e.g., we suggested the possibility that 
information about deaths allegedly caused by safety defects might 
justify a more frequent period of reporting than other types of 
information). Commenters generally objected to reporting information 
``as received.'' There was no objection to reporting on a quarterly 
basis, the same as is required for defect campaign reporting under 49 
CFR 573.6.
    In the NPRM, we tentatively concluded that, with respect to 
statistical reports, an ``as received'' or even monthly basis would 
impose too great a burden and would be unlikely to provide significant 
timeliness benefits. A quarterly reporting period appeared to be more 
appropriate. We noted that the burden upon manufacturers would be 
lessened if a common reporting date were adopted for the submission of 
all statistical early warning information that we will require 
``periodically.'' However, the NPRM requested comments on whether we 
should require reporting six times per year.
    In the NPRM, we proposed that virtually all the early warning 
information, including copies of required field reports, be submitted 
to us not later than the 30th day of the calendar month following the 
end of the reporting period. We believed that 30 days would be 
sufficient to compile this

[[Page 45864]]

information, but we requested comments on whether a shorter or longer 
period would be appropriate. We also proposed that all communications 
that would be required by Section 579.5 (those presently required by 49 
CFR 573.8 and those that would be covered by the early warning rule, 
i.e., communications relating to a customer satisfaction campaign, 
consumer advisory, recall, or other safety activity involving the 
repair or replacement of motor vehicles or equipment) be submitted to 
us monthly, within 5 working days of the end of the month, as is 
currently required for submissions under Section 573.8.
    Several commenters asked for more time before the reporting 
requirements would take effect. For example, the Alliance suggested 
that the first reporting quarter should be one year after the final 
rule (including any possible modifications adopted pursuant to 
petitions for reconsideration) is issued.
    RMA commented that tire manufacturers ought to be permitted to 
report within 60 days after the last day of the quarterly reporting 
period rather than 30 days. RMA noted that production may come from 
numerous plant locations, property damage claims from specific files 
which may not be in one location, and warranty adjustments from totally 
different files. The manufacturer must then compile the data and load 
it into a program or programs that will compare the information and 
match the data to the appropriate tire line and size. According to RMA, 
``this process will take many weeks.'' To require submission of data 
within 30 days ``will represent an unreasonable burden on the tire 
industry.'' RMA stated that in the third quarter of calendar year 2001, 
its tire manufacturer members ``collectively received almost 450,000 
warranty adjustments and property damage claims, representing over 
100,000 different stock keeping units (SKUs).'' Some other commenters 
asked for 45 days to submit the reports, while others believed that 30 
days was sufficient (particularly if they did not have to submit 
historical data on the same date).
    After reviewing these comments, we have decided to adopt the 
quarterly reporting that we proposed.
    While we believe that most manufacturers will be able to have 
systems in place to accumulate and store the information required to be 
submitted under this rule within six months, in order to accommodate 
those manufacturers that may be less prepared, we have decided to defer 
the first reporting period to the second quarter of 2003.
    We also believe that it is reasonable to require reports to be 
submitted not later than 30 days after the end of each calendar 
quarter. After all, the entire point of these rules is to obtain early 
warning information, and we want to minimize any unnecessary delays in 
our review of this information. However, so that both manufacturers and 
NHTSA may become accustomed to the collation, transmission, and storage 
of data, the first three reports (i.e., those for the final three 
calendar quarters of 2003) will be due two months after the end of the 
reporting period. Thus, the reports for the quarters that end June 30, 
September 30, and December 31, 2003, will be due, respectively, not 
later than August 31 and December 1, 2003 (November 30, 2003, being a 
Sunday), and February 29, 2004. Thereafter, reports will be due within 
30 days of the end of the reporting period; the report for the first 
quarter of 2004 that ends on March 31 will be due not later than April 
30, 2004. Copies of other documents that must be transmitted to NHTSA 
(relating to customer satisfaction campaigns, etc., as described in 
Section 579.5(b)), will be due within 5 working days after the end of 
each month beginning with April 2003.

B. Upon NHTSA's Request

    The TREAD Act also requires all manufacturers to provide 
information within the scope of the early warning provision when we 
request it. Such a requirement complements our pre-TREAD authority to 
request safety-related information as part of our investigations. Under 
this new authority, the information need only relate to preliminary 
investigative activities and need only be of such a nature that it may 
assist us in the identification of safety-related defects. Thus, we 
plan to request additional information from manufacturers if the 
information in the periodic reports suggests that there may be a 
possible problem. These inquiries would not be formal investigations, 
such as Preliminary Evaluations and Engineering Analyses now conducted 
by ODI.

C. One-Time Historical Report

    We had proposed in the NPRM that this historical data would be due 
on the date that the first quarterly report was due, which we 
tentatively assumed would be April 30, 2003. However, to reduce the 
burden on manufacturers, we have decided to establish the due date for 
that submission as three months after the end of the first quarter 
covered by the rule, which will be September 30, 2003. This will allow 
manufacturers to spread their workload and to devote their full 
attention to preparing their reports for the first regular reporting 
period, which will be August 31, 2003.

VI. The Manner and Form in Which Information Will Be Reported

    Section 30166(m)(4)(A)(iii) requires us to specify ``the manner and 
form of reporting [early warning] information including in electronic 
form.''
    In the ANPRM, we discussed the possibility of using spreadsheets in 
a specified format with separate reports of the numbers of various 
categories of information (e.g., claims/notices of deaths and injuries, 
consumer complaints, warranty claims, field reports) along with other 
information (such as production volumes) by make, model, model year, 
and by component (we would specify which components). We would then be 
able to utilize a computer to identify aggregate numbers, rates (using 
production data), or unusual trends in each of these categories. This 
would obviate the need for manufacturers to provide us with their 
warranty or claims codes or to make significant revisions to their 
current coding procedures.
    RMA suggested that we simply state that information shall be 
formatted by a manufacturer in a format approved by NHTSA. However, 
RMA's suggestion might result in requests by a large number of 
manufacturers for approval of their own specific formats, taxing 
NHTSA's resources that will be devoted to the early warning program and 
to the development of ODI's new data management system.
    NHTSA is adopting two alternative methods for manufacturers to 
submit their periodic reports, using specified templates that are 
consistent with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. These templates will be 
available on the NHTSA website, www.nhtsa.dot.gov. The most efficient 
method, and the one we prefer that manufacturers use, is over the 
Internet directly to ODI's secure data repository. NHTSA will establish 
a link on its web site to a data repository suitable for containing 
these data. After obtaining a secure password from the agency, 
manufacturers would be able to use that link to ``push'' their report 
to the NHTSA repository. Upon receipt of the data, an acknowledgement 
will be returned to the submitter, noting the date and time of the 
submission. To protect unauthorized submissions and to protect the 
data, the repository will utilize a highly secure server. Manufacturers 
will be required to obtain

[[Page 45865]]

an identification number and a password by submitting a written request 
to ODI.
    Alternatively, for data files smaller than the size limit of the 
DOT Internet e-mail server, currently five megabytes, manufacturers may 
submit their data as an attachment to an e-mail message, sent to 
odi.ewr@nhtsa.dot.gov. The e-mail system will provide a return receipt. 
There is, however, a risk that this method will not result in the data 
actually arriving at the appropriate office in NHTSA, since e-mail 
servers may be unreliable in handling large attachments, both within 
DOT and within the manufacturers' own systems. The preferred method, 
based on security considerations, ease of use, and reliability, is the 
web site link described above.
    Any electronic image provided by a manufacturer must have no less 
than 200 and no more than 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution.
    In the NPRM, we had proposed to allow submission of information on 
CD/ROMs. However, we have been advised that the radiation used on mail 
to the DOT Headquarters building to protect against anthrax 
contamination can destroy information on CD/ROMs. Therefore, we cannot 
allow this method to be used.
    For small manufacturers, which only need to submit minimal amounts 
of data, we are establishing an interactive form reachable through a 
link on our web site that may be filled out by manual data entry by the 
submitter. This method will require completing a form for each 
incident, with fields for each of the required data elements. A 
manufacturer ID and a secure password will be needed for these reports 
as well, to prevent the data from being corrupted.
    Paper documents, computer printouts, or similar non-electronic 
submissions of this data will not be acceptable.
    With respect to copies of communications submitted under Section 
579.5 and copies of field reports submitted under paragraph (d) of 
various sections, we prefer receiving the documents in electronic form 
using any state-of-the-art, commercially available, non-proprietary 
graphic compression protocol, through the Internet link to the ODI data 
repository or via e-mail. However, to accommodate small businesses, we 
will also accept paper copies of those documents mailed in the same 
manner as is currently used under current Section 573.8.
    Manufacturers will have to provide ODI with the name and contact 
information (phone number, address, e-mail address, etc.) of two 
information technology (IT) point-of-contact persons (a primary contact 
and a back-up contact), who will be responsible for resolving issues 
with data submissions as they come up from time to time.
    The Alliance and RMA requested the opportunity to discuss details 
related to the submission of the early warning data, the reporting 
format, the means for submitting data, and other technical details to 
ensure smooth implementation of the reporting process. NHTSA supports 
this approach. NHTSA staff and its contractor's staff met with Alliance 
representatives on April 9, 2002, and with RMA representatives on May 
17, 2002, to discuss IT issues associated with early warning reporting. 
Also, after receiving an invitation from Ford for NHTSA to visit its 
facility, representatives of NHTSA and its contractor traveled to 
Dearborn to discuss Ford's existing data retrieval and analysis system 
for early detection of potential safety defects.
    After the final rule is published but before the first reporting 
period, NHTSA will conduct a public meeting at the DOT headquarters in 
Washington to discuss data transmission methods and protocols. 
Interested persons, particularly the manufacturers' IT staff members, 
will be invited to discuss technical issues in an open forum to resolve 
any issues related to the submission of data. We also plan to conduct 
several trial runs with the cooperation of various manufacturers to 
assure that the process will run smoothly.

VII. How NHTSA Plans To Handle and Utilize Early Warning Information

A. Review and Use of Information

    Section 30166(m)(4)(A)(i) and (ii) require that our early warning 
rule specify how the information reported to us will be used. Those 
paragraphs provide:

    (A) [NHTSA's] specifications. In requiring the reporting of any 
information requested by [NHTSA] under this subsection, [NHTSA] 
shall specify in the final rule * * *
    (i) how [early warning] information will be reviewed and 
utilized to assist in the identification of defects related to motor 
vehicle safety; [and]
    (ii) the systems and processes [that NHTSA] will employ or 
establish to review and utilize such information.

    We will comply with the statutory provision by explaining in this 
document, as we did in the NPRM, that we intend to consider pre-
investigation information received under Section 30166(m) in the same 
manner as we currently treat other information that is now available to 
us about possible safety defects, such as consumer complaints to NHTSA 
and documents received from manufacturers under current 49 CFR 573.8. 
That is to say, we will review the available data and information to 
determine whether potentially problematic trends are developing in the 
vehicles, equipment items, components, and systems for which 
information has been provided. As noted earlier, if we identify matters 
that might possibly suggest the existence of a safety defect, we plan 
to seek additional clarifying information from the manufacturer in 
question, and from other sources, to help us to decide whether to open 
a formal defect investigation. In the NPRM, we commented that if we 
decided to change this approach, we would discuss any such changes in 
the final rule.
    Referring to a report of the Inspector General of the Department of 
Transportation (Review of the Office of Defects Investigation, NHTSA, 
Report No. MH-2002-071, Jan. 3, 2002), RMA suggested that if NHTSA 
intends to establish procedures for determining whether to open a 
formal investigation or pursue other enforcement action based on its 
review of early warning reporting data, the agency should conduct a 
separate notice and comment rulemaking. We note that NHTSA already has 
a regulation covering its defect investigations (49 CFR Part 554, 
Standards Enforcement and Defects Investigation) and does not foresee 
any change in its investigatory procedures that would require an 
amendment.
    We are developing an enhanced data warehouse and data processing 
system called ARTEMIS--Advanced Retrieval (Tire, Equipment, Motor 
vehicles) Information System. ARTEMIS will provide for centralized 
storage of information, include a document management system, use data 
analysis tools, and facilitate the provision of appropriate information 
to the public. We expect to have a fully functional system by the fall 
of 2002, although modifications will likely be made throughout the 
remainder of 2002 in preparation for the receipt of early warning 
information beginning in 2003.
    Once the data are received, NHTSA will review the information for a 
given quarter to insure compliance with the requirements. In addition, 
as the data become available, historical trends will be evaluated and 
tracked. The tracking of the various submissions will be, in part, 
through statistical control mechanisms. The data provided by the 
manufacturers will be compared with other information available to 
NHTSA, including its existing databases. As necessary, supplemental 
information

[[Page 45866]]

will be requested from a manufacturer to expand on the routine early 
warning submissions.\6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ This notice does not establish rules governing disclosure or 
confidentiality of information submitted pursuant to the early 
warning rule. The agency has published proposed amendments to 49 CFR 
Part 512, Confidential Business Information (67 FR 21198, April 30, 
2002) and, as appropriate, in the course of that rulemaking will 
consider issues related to confidentiality and disclosure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Information in the Possession of the Manufacturer

    Section 30166(m)(4)(B) provides as follows:

    (B) Information in possession of manufacturer. The [early 
warning] regulations may not require a manufacturer of a motor 
vehicle or motor vehicle equipment to maintain or submit records 
respecting information not in the possession of the manufacturer.

    The information that we are requiring manufacturers to submit to us 
is in their possession, or will be under the recordkeeping requirements 
that we are adopting. For example, if a manufacturer (as broadly 
defined in this rule) does not have ``possession'' of a complaint, it 
obviously cannot (and would not have to) report to us about such a 
document. However, we want to emphasize that we will not tolerate any 
attempts by manufacturers to utilize this provision to avoid reporting 
by improperly evading receipt of, or failing to obtain, maintain, and 
retain relevant records.
    Pursuant to 49 CFR Part 576, Record Retention, we have required 
manufacturers of motor vehicles to retain for a period of five years 
from the date of generation or acquisition ``complaints, reports, and 
other records concerning motor vehicle malfunctions that may be related 
to motor vehicle safety'' (49 CFR 576.1). These are described with 
great specificity in 49 CFR 576.6:

    Records to be maintained by manufacturers * * * include all 
documentary materials, films, tapes, and other information-storing 
media that contain information concerning malfunctions that may be 
related to motor vehicle safety. Such records include, but are not 
limited to, communications from vehicle users and memoranda of user 
complaints; reports and other documents, including material 
generated or communicated by computer, telefax or other electronic 
means, that are related to work performed under or claims made under 
warranties; service reports or similar documents, including 
electronic transmissions; from dealers or manufacturer's field 
personnel; and any lists, compilations, analyses, or discussions of 
such malfunctions contained in internal or external correspondence 
of the manufacturer, including communications transmitted 
electronically.

    Section 576.8 sets forth the meaning of ``malfunctions that may be 
related to motor vehicle safety,'' which include with respect to a 
motor vehicle:

    * * * any failure or malfunction beyond normal deterioration in 
use, or any failure of performance, or any flaw or unintended 
deviation from design specifications, that could in any reasonably 
foreseeable manner be a causative factor in, or aggravate, an 
accident or an injury to a person.

    Thus, manufacturers of motor vehicles, by virtue of complying with 
Part 576, already have in their possession the types of information 
that will have to be reported under this rule.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ As proposed in the NPRM, we are amending Part 576 to require 
similar retention of records by manufacturers of child restraint 
systems and tires. See discussion below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. The Requirements Are Not Unduly Burdensome

    Section 30166(m)(4)(D), Burdensome requirements, requires that the 
final rule:

    shall not impose requirements unduly burdensome to a 
manufacturer or a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, taking 
into account the manufacturer's cost of complying with such 
requirements and [NHTSA's] ability to use the information sought in 
a meaningful manner to assist in the identification of defects 
related to motor vehicle safety.

    The ANPRM gave manufacturers a general idea of the types of data 
and information that they may be required to submit under a final rule. 
This allowed them to make a tentative assessment of the burdens that an 
early warning reporting rule may entail. Some manufacturers and other 
commenters addressed these issues. The agency's Preliminary Regulatory 
Evaluation (PRE), which estimated costs to manufacturers and which was 
placed in the docket when the NPRM was published, took these comments 
into consideration. We anticipated that the additional detail in the 
NPRM and the PRE would allow manufacturers to make a more accurate 
assessment of potential compliance burdens and to identify them with 
specificity. The agency has tried to reduce the burden to the extent 
possible while still fulfilling the intent of the TREAD Act.
    There was no significant disagreement with the statement in the PRE 
that there is unlikely to be a significant burden associated with the 
actual reporting of information. Rather, the burden on each 
manufacturer will depend on the extent to which that manufacturer must 
revise and/or supplement its current information management and 
retention systems. Most major manufacturers already have a log or 
database of information about the categories for which early warning 
reporting would be required that is comprehensive and regularly 
updated. In this case, the burden associated with the rule would not be 
substantial. At most, such manufacturers would have to add several data 
elements and/or reorganize existing data elements such as the 
identification of components involved in claims, and add a process for 
dealing with foreign claims related to deaths.
    In the NPRM, we significantly reduced the burden on manufacturers 
of vehicles and equipment from the levels that could have been required 
under the TREAD Act. First, other than requiring reports about 
incidents involving deaths based on claims and notices, which do not 
need to be maintained in a complex computer system, and campaign 
documents, we did not propose to require small vehicle manufacturers, 
original equipment manufacturers, and replacement equipment 
manufacturers, (other than manufacturers of child restraint systems and 
tires) to submit periodic early warning reports. Second, we did not 
propose to require at this time any information about incidents that 
occur in foreign countries except for those based on claims involving 
deaths.
    We also considered requiring information for all systems and 
components of a vehicle, instead of those specified in Section IV.N 
above. We believed that the reduced number of components on which 
reporting is required would reduce reporting costs.
    The PRE estimated the number of claims, warranty claims, customer 
complaints, field reports, etc. for each of the following groups of 
manufacturers: light vehicles, medium and heavy trucks, buses, 
trailers, motorcycles, tires, and child restraint systems. It estimated 
the costs of setting up computer systems to handle the reporting 
requirements and the types of skills and labor hours needed to provide 
the proposed information. Similar estimates were made for each of the 
other groups of manufacturers. Cumulative costs for the other groups 
were significantly higher, since they included many more manufacturers, 
and many of those manufacturers are not as computerized today as the 
light vehicle manufacturers. Manufacturers contested most of our 
estimates.
    Based on comments filed in response to the NPRM and on supplemental 
comments filed by the Alliance on May 3, 2002, we revised our estimates 
of the burdens associated with this rulemaking. Revised estimates for 
the

[[Page 45867]]

costs associated with the NPRM were published in a notice published on 
June 25, 2002 pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act (67 FR 42843).
    NHTSA's Final Regulatory Evaluation (FRE) (June 2002), which is in 
the docket, discusses benefits and costs associated with the final 
rule. A benefit from NHTSA's receipt of the early warning information 
is that NHTSA investigations will be opened sooner. As a result, 
recalls will be initiated earlier, defective vehicles and equipment 
will be taken off the roads sooner, and fewer injuries and fatalities, 
and less property damage, will occur. We expect that the analysis of 
the information will result in increased numbers of investigations and 
recalls, both by the manufacturers voluntarily and by NHTSA. However, 
the agency cannot quantify the benefits in terms of reduced fatalities, 
injuries, or property damage. The agency estimates that total 
manufacturers' recall costs could be reduced by $9 million per year 
because they will identify defective parts earlier, correct the 
deficiencies in ongoing production and avoid recall costs in the 
future. This is based on initiation of an average recall (manufacturer 
voluntary recall and NHTSA-influenced) three months earlier for those 
recalled vehicles that are still in production when the recall occurs 
and for which some recalled vehicles are three or more years old, and 
assumes an average recall cost of $100 per vehicle.
    The FRE estimates the total first year costs (including computer 
startup costs, three years of limited historical data (i.e., warranty 
claims and field reports), and the four quarterly reports in the first 
year of submission) for the final rule will be about $70 million, and 
recurring annual costs will be about $1.72 million.
    In summary, there are safety benefits associated with this final 
rule; however, we were unable to quantify them. There are start-up 
costs in the first year of the final rule of $70 million that are 
offset somewhat by economic benefits to manufacturers of $9 million per 
year. However, in the second and subsequent years, we estimate that 
benefits to the manufacturers of $9 million per year will outweigh the 
annual on-going costs of $1.72 million per year.
    Apart from quantifiable costs, we emphasize that in this final rule 
we have significantly reduced many other burdens on manufacturers that 
had been proposed in the NPRM. Primary among these is the substantial 
reduction (over 50 percent) in the amount of historical reporting that 
will be required, since we will not require reporting of historical 
numbers of property damage claims and consumer complaints. In addition, 
we postponed the first reporting period for three months, extended the 
reporting dates for reports covering 2003, merged warranty and 
complaint reporting for child restraint system manufacturers at their 
request, expanded the exemption from most reporting for limited 
production tires by referring to the applicability section of the 
UTQGS, reduced the need to consult with outside legal counsel, withdrew 
the proposal to require manufacturers to redact personal identifiers 
from field reports, and provided for only limited updating of incident 
reports predicated on claims and notices involving deaths and injuries, 
rather than requiring repetitive checking to see if additional 
information becomes available. In addition, we significantly reduced 
the proposed record keeping requirements, primarily by retaining the 
existing five-year period rather than the ten years that we had 
proposed.

D. Periodic Review

    Under section 30166(m)(5), NHTSA must specify in the final rule 
``procedures for the periodic review and update of such rule.'' Once 
the final early warning rule is in effect, we anticipate that our 
experience will indicate areas where the regulation ought to be 
amended, to add or delete information required, and to modify our 
information-gathering procedures. We would then make internal 
adjustments where called for, or propose appropriate modifications to 
the final rule. This would be an on-going process of evaluation. We 
plan to commence the initial review of the rule within two years after 
the initial reports are received, that is to say, the summer of 2005. 
Subsequently, we plan to review our defect information-gathering 
procedures at least once every five years.
    Although this final rule was preceded by an ANPRM and NPRM, we have 
received little comment on the impacts the final rule will have on 
manufacturers who are considered to be ``small businesses'' by the 
Small Business Administration (SBA) (e.g., trailer manufacturers who 
employ no more than 500 persons, and all other vehicle manufacturers 
who employ no more than 1,000 persons). While we have attempted to 
reduce the reporting burden on manufacturers who produce a limited 
number of vehicles a year, choosing 500 vehicles as an appropriate 
threshold, SBA has commented that there are manufacturers who produce 
more than 500 vehicles a year but who nevertheless are ``small 
businesses'' as defined by the SBA. SBA provided partial information on 
the numbers of such businesses, but we are as yet unable to determine 
the total number of ``small businesses'' in this category. Accordingly, 
we intend to continue our review of the industry to determine the 
number of such manufacturers who may be ``small businesses'' but 
required by the final rule to report in full. By mid-2005, we will have 
completed this review and expect to have received sufficient reports 
from these ``small business'' manufacturers to evaluate their 
assistance in detecting potential defects in their motor vehicles. We 
expect that this evaluation, in turn, will allow us to determine 
whether the threshold of 500 vehicles a year is appropriate or whether 
it should be modified.

VIII. Extension of Recordkeeping Requirements To Include Manufacturers 
of Child Restraint Systems and Tires

    Our principal record keeping regulation is 49 CFR Part 576, Record 
Retention. The current regulation applies only to motor vehicle 
manufacturers and requires them to keep certain records for a period of 
five years.
    A colloquy on the floor of the House with respect to Section 
30166(m)(4)(B) addressed the need to preserve relevant records to 
assure that the goals of the TREAD Act are achieved:

    Mr. Markey: Concern has been expressed that this provision not 
become a loophole for unscrupulous manufacturers who might be 
willing to destroy a record in order to demonstrate that it is no 
longer in its possession. Would [Mr. Tauzin] agree that it is in 
[NHTSA's] discretion to require a manufacturer to maintain records 
that are in fact in the manufacturer's possession and that it would 
be a violation of such a requirement to destroy such a record?

    Mr. Tauzin: The gentleman is again correct.
    As we discussed in Section VII above, we proposed to amend Part 576 
to assure that documents covered by the early warning regulation are 
kept for an appropriate length of time after a manufacturer acquires or 
generates them.
    Part 576 currently applies only to vehicle manufacturers, while the 
TREAD Act covers manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment as well. We 
proposed to extend the applicability of Part 576 to those equipment 
manufacturers from whom we will require full reporting, i.e., 
manufacturers of child restraint systems and of tires. We asked for 
comments on whether record retention requirements should also be 
expanded to include

[[Page 45868]]

manufacturers of replacement equipment other than child restraint 
systems and tires and manufacturers of original equipment.
    Until the TREAD Act, the requirement that a remedy for safety 
defects and noncompliances be provided without charge did not apply if 
a vehicle or child restraint system was bought by the first purchaser 
more than eight calendar years, or a tire, including an original 
equipment tire, was bought by the first purchaser more than three 
calendar years, before the determination that a defect or noncompliance 
existed. (Section 30120(g)(1)). Section 4 of the TREAD Act amended 
Section 30120(g)(1) to extend the free remedy period to ten years for 
vehicles and most replacement equipment including child restraint 
systems, and to five years for tires.
    Currently, 49 CFR 576.5 requires manufacturers of motor vehicles to 
retain the records specified in 49 CFR 576.6 for a period of five years 
from the date they were acquired or generated by the manufacturer. The 
purpose of Part 576 is:

* * * to preserve records that are needed for the proper 
investigation, and adjudication or other disposition, of possible 
defects related to motor vehicle safety and instances of 
nonconformity to the motor vehicle safety standards and associated 
regulations (49 CFR 576.2).

    Towards this end, we tentatively concluded that records that may be 
pertinent to possible defects and noncompliances should be retained by 
a manufacturer of motor vehicles for the period during which the 
manufacturer is required to provide a remedy without charge. Thus, we 
proposed amending Section 576.5 to extend the record retention period 
from five years to ten years for the records specified in Section 
576.6. Given that manufacturers of child restraint systems and tires 
are also required by statute to remedy defects and noncompliances 
without charge, and that they are also covered by the TREAD Act's early 
warning reporting requirements, we tentatively decided that 
manufacturers of child restraint systems and tires should be required 
to retain records for ten and five years, respectively. Thus, our 
proposed Section 576.5(d), read as follows:

    (d) Each manufacturer of motor vehicles, child restraint 
systems, and tires shall retain each property damage claim, warranty 
claim, consumer complaint, and field report received from an 
authorized dealer of such manufacturer, for a period of five 
calendar years from the date the manufacturer acquires it, but need 
not retain it when the calendar year is or becomes ten years greater 
than the model year of any motor vehicle or child restraint system 
that is the subject of the document.

    Thirteen comments were submitted concerning the proposed changes in 
the record retention requirements. These were from Nissan, the 
Alliance, JPMA, RMA, Harley-Davidson, Bendix, Johnson, Ford, 
Utilimaster, AIAM, CU, MEMA, and GM. CU supported the proposal. Most of 
the remaining comments either questioned the reasonableness of the 
proposal or contended that various aspects of the proposal were 
inconsistent or confusing. In addition, some noted that the proposal 
did not specify a limit on the retention of records relating to 
incidents involving injury or death or limit the retention requirements 
to records located in the United States or pertaining to vehicles 
offered for sale in the United States.
    A number of comments (Alliance, Nissan, Ford, GM) questioned the 
need for the agency to extend the current five-year record retention 
requirement to ten years for most categories of information that would 
be covered by the early warning reporting rules. These comments 
generally asserted that there is no reasonable justification for 
changes to existing requirements for a document to be retained for five 
years from the date that it was created, and that those requirements 
provide the agency with enough information to fully investigate any 
potential safety defects. In its comment, GM contended that there is 
nothing in the TREAD Act that would require an extension of the record 
retention period. Ford stated that defect investigations are unlikely 
to resolve reports of incidents that happened more than five years ago. 
AIAM observed that it is difficult to imagine that six to ten-year old 
records will contain information on an alleged problem that is not 
already present in data available for the most recent five years.
    The agency has reevaluated the need for manufacturers to retain 
records that are more than five years old. We have concluded that our 
investigative needs, addressed to date by section 576.5 et seq., have 
been adequately met by the existing requirement for manufacturers to 
retain complaints, reports, and other records for five years concerning 
malfunctions that may be related to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, 
we have decided not to require that the records described in proposed 
Section 576.6 be retained for ten years. The agency is instead 
retaining the existing five-year retention period for those records.
    We are adopting and slightly revising the requirement set forth in 
proposed Section 576.5(c), and in the first portion of proposed Section 
576.5(d), relating to retention of the underlying records on which the 
information reported under the early warning rule is based. For smaller 
vehicle manufacturers and for manufacturers of equipment other than 
tires and child restraint systems, this would only apply to records 
related to these incidents that are referred to in claims and notices 
involving deaths. For other manufacturers, this would be the underlying 
records supporting the aggregate numbers of property damage claims, 
consumer complaints, warranty claims, and field reports that will be 
reported to NHTSA under paragraph (c) of Sections 579.21-579.26, as 
applicable. This will not add a significant burden, since most of these 
documents already were covered by existing Part 576. As discussed 
below, the retention period for these records will be five years from 
the date they are generated or acquired.
    Proposed Section 576.5(e) would have required motor vehicle, child 
restraint system, and tire manufacturers to retain, for a period of one 
year, field reports from one of their employees or representatives or 
from the owners or operators of ten or more vehicles of the same make, 
model, and model year that they have manufactured, and a copy of each 
document reported to NHTSA for a customer satisfaction campaign, 
consumer advisory, and recall (other than those submitted pursuant to 
49 CFR Parts 573 and 577). Because the covered manufacturers will be 
required to furnish all these documents to NHTSA, the agency has 
decided that there is no need for the manufacturers also to be required 
to retain copies of the documents within their own possession for one 
year. Therefore, we are not adopting the requirements proposed in 
Section 576.5(e). We are instead adopting language that expressly 
states that manufacturers are not required to retain copies of any 
document submitted to NHTSA under 49 CFR Parts 573 and 577 (which 
specify requirements for notifying the agency and owners of defects and 
noncompliances) and any document submitted under the early warning 
reporting requirements of Part 579. See Section 576.5(c).
    We note that some comments (Alliance, JPMA, Ford) contended that 
NHTSA had not estimated the costs associated with doubling the record 
retention period, and had not demonstrated that the benefits that the 
agency could derive from increasing the retention period would outweigh 
the burden that increase would impose on affected manufacturers. 
However, these

[[Page 45869]]

comments are mooted by the fact that we are not adopting our proposal.
    JPMA recommended that the agency adopt a five-year record retention 
requirement for child restraint system manufacturers, as opposed to the 
ten-year requirement proposed in the NPRM, on the basis that this 
duration is close to the recommended life of the product, and 
reasonably balances the costs of record retention with the goal of 
having a reasonable amount of information available to assist NHTSA in 
defect investigations. JPMA noted that record retention requirements 
would be imposed on child restraint system manufacturers for the first 
time. Thus, our final rule is in accord with the views of the 
representative of the child restraint system manufacturers.
    RMA recommended that the proposed regulations be modified to 
require tire manufacturers to retain information for a period no longer 
than the five-year period succeeding the date of manufacture of the 
product identified in a property damage claim, warranty adjustment, or 
fatality or injury claim or notice. The comment does not explain why 
the retention period should run from the production date of the tire, 
as opposed to the date on which the record was acquired, as it does for 
motor vehicle and child restraint system manufacturers. To maintain 
consistency with those requirements, the agency believes that the 
retention period for records pertaining to tires should run for a 
period of five years from the date on which the record was acquired, 
and not from the date on which the tire was manufactured.
    Our decision not to impose a ten-year record requirement also 
addresses a number of comments (Nissan, Alliance, AIAM, Harley-
Davidson) which contended that the proposed regulatory language for 
Section 576.5 is confusing. These comments observed that paragraph (a) 
of this section would impose a ten-year retention period for the 
category of records described in Section 576.6, and that this 
description is broad enough to encompass the property damage claims, 
warranty claims, consumer complaints, and field reports for which a 
five-year retention period was proposed in paragraph (d) of the 
section, and the field reports for which a one-year retention period 
would be prescribed in paragraph (e). As noted above, the agency is 
leaving the existing five-year retention requirement for these records 
in place. We are also adopting a five-year retention requirement for 
the records that underlie the information reported to us under the 
early warning reporting requirements (claims and notices involving 
death or injury, and, as applicable depending on the type of product 
manufactured, property damage claims, warranty claims, consumer 
complaints, and field reports). This should eliminate any confusion as 
to the length of time that any given record must be retained.
    Section 576.5(d), as proposed, would have created an exception from 
the five-year record retention requirement for property damage claims, 
warranty claims, consumer complaints and authorized dealers' field 
reports ``when the calendar year is or becomes ten years greater than 
the model year of any motor vehicle or child restraint system that is 
the subject of the document.'' Aside from RMA's comment, noted above, 
the only other comment that addressed this provision was from GM, which 
stated that it did not understand why the agency would want to create 
such an exception from current record retention requirements. NHTSA has 
reassessed the need for the proposed exception in light of this 
comment, and the absence of any other comment concerning it from 
manufacturers who would be subject to the proposed record retention 
requirements. The agency has accordingly not incorporated the exception 
into Section 576.5(d).
    Several comments were received regarding proposed Section 576.5(c), 
which stated: ``Each manufacturer of motor vehicles, original 
equipment, and replacement equipment shall retain each claim or notice 
related to an incident involving a death or injury.'' Most of these 
(Nissan, AIAM , Alliance, Bendix, Utilimaster, and Harley-Davidson) 
observed that the proposed language specifies no limit for the 
retention of claims and notices involving death or injury. The Alliance 
contended that such an indefinite retention period is inconsistent with 
OMB regulations requiring agencies to establish maximum retention 
periods.
    The agency recognizes that it inadvertently omitted a time period 
for retention of these documents. Accordingly, we will add language 
clarifying that the retention period for all records underlying the 
early warning submissions is five years from the date the record is 
generated or acquired. This will make the retention period for such 
claims and notices involving deaths or injuries consistent with that 
for all other categories of records covered by the retention 
requirements.
    MEMA agreed with the proposal not to extend most record retention 
requirements to original and replacement equipment manufacturers, 
except for manufacturers of tires and child restraint systems. The 
comment noted that a substantial number of vehicle parts and equipment 
manufacturers are small businesses, and that applying the record 
retention requirement to those manufacturers would add an unnecessary 
cost burden. Accordingly, MEMA supports extending these requirements 
only to those equipment manufacturers from whom the agency would 
require full reporting (i.e., tire and child restraint system 
manufacturers). It recommended that proposed Section 576.5(c) be 
amended to clarify that it would only apply to motor vehicle, tire, and 
child restraint system manufacturers. MEMA (and Johnson) noted that 
absent such an amendment, proposed Section 576.5(c) would be 
inconsistent with the proposed sections on ``Scope'' (576.1) and 
``Application'' (576.3) of Part 576.
    We acknowledge the inconsistency. However, we are addressing it by 
revising the language of Sections 576.1 and 576.3, rather than by 
allowing equipment manufacturers to destroy documents related to 
incidents involving claims for deaths attributed to their products. 
These documents could be very relevant to agency defect investigations. 
Moreover, the burden of retaining them is exceedingly slight; there are 
likely to be very few claims and notices received by these 
manufacturers. Thus, under new Section 576.5(b), the requirement to 
retain documents related to incidents involving deaths reported to us 
for five years applies to all vehicle and equipment manufacturers.
    The Alliance and Nissan observed that as proposed, the record 
retention requirements would not be limited to documents related to 
vehicles offered for sale in the United States. The comments asserted 
that there must be a nexus to the United States for the record 
retention requirements. Johnson submitted similar comments. We decline 
to expressly limit the retention requirements to records located within 
the United States. The agency notes in this regard that the early 
warning reporting rules will require reports of each incident involving 
one or more death(s) occurring in a foreign country that is identified 
in claim(s) against the manufacturer involving the manufacturer's 
product, if that product is identical or substantially similar to a 
product that the manufacturer has offered for sale in the United 
States.'' See, e.g., Section 579.21(b)(1). A manufacturer's ability to 
provide follow-up information if requested would be diminished if the 
agency were to expressly limit the record retention requirement to 
records located in the United States. Similarly, the purposes of

[[Page 45870]]

the rule and the agency's ability to conduct effective defect 
investigations would be undermined if we were to limit the record 
retention requirements to documents related to vehicles offered for 
sale in the United States.
    Finally, we have reviewed our regulation on tire record keeping, 49 
CFR Part 574. Section 574.6(d) and Section 574.10 require, 
respectively, tire manufacturers and motor vehicle manufacturers to 
maintain records of new tires they produce, and tires on new vehicles 
and the names and addresses of the first purchaser of the vehicles for 
not less than three years after the date of purchase. In light of the 
statutory amendment increasing the period from three to five years for 
free remedy of tires, and our conforming change to Part 576, we 
proposed adopting conforming amendments to Sections 574.6(d) and 574.10 
under which these records will also be held for five years. There were 
no comments on the proposal, and Sections 574.6(d) and 574.10 are being 
adopted as proposed.

IX. Administrative Amendments to 49 CFR Part 573 To Accommodate Final 
Rules Implementing 49 U.S.C. Sections 30166(l) and (m)

    For many years, we have required manufacturers to furnish us with a 
copy of all notices, bulletins, other communications including warranty 
and policy extension communiques and product improvement bulletins 
regarding defects, whether or not safety related (49 CFR 573.8). 
Currently, this requirement is located in our regulation on defect and 
noncompliance reporting, 49 CFR Part 573. Given our adoption of a new 
regulation, Part 579 Reporting of Information and Communications About 
Potential Defects, it seems appropriate to transfer the subject matter 
of Section 573.8 to Part 579. We proposed a Section 579.5(a) which is 
identical to Section 573.8. There were no comments on that proposal. 
The final rule achieves the transfer with the removal of Section 573.8 
and the adoption of Section 579.5(a).
    There currently exists a regulation at 49 CFR Part 579, Defect and 
Noncompliance Responsibility (2001). This regulation sets forth the 
responsibilities of various types of manufacturers for safety-related 
defects and noncompliances. As such, we feel that it would be 
appropriate for its specifications to be moved to Part 573. 
Accordingly, we are also amending Part 573 to incorporate these 
specifications as part of this rulemaking document. These are reflected 
in amendments to the scope, purpose, and definitions of Part 573, and 
the addition of the substantive requirements of former Section 579.5 as 
a new Section 573.5, with other sections of Part 573 renumbered 
accordingly.

X. Rulemaking Analyses

    Regulatory Policies and Procedures. Executive Order 12866, 
``Regulatory Planning and Review'' (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) 
provides for making determinations whether a regulatory action is 
``significant'' and therefore subject to Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) review and to the requirements of the Executive Order. The 
Order defines as ``significant regulatory action'' as one that is 
likely to result in a rule that may:
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or 
adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or 
communities;
    (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
the Executive Order.
    We have considered the impact of this rulemaking under Executive 
Order 12866 the Department of Transportation's regulatory policies and 
procedures. This rulemaking has been determined to be significant by 
the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866 because 
of congressional interest. For the same reason, this action has also 
been determined to be significant under DOT's regulatory policies and 
procedures. A detailed discussion of impacts can be found in the Final 
Regulatory Evaluation (FRE) that the agency has prepared for this 
rulemaking and filed in the docket. This action does not impose 
requirements on the design or production of motor vehicles or motor 
vehicle equipment; it only requires reporting of information in the 
possession of the manufacturer.
    Regulatory Flexibility Act. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 
(5 U.S.C. Sec. 601 et seq.) requires agencies to evaluate the potential 
effects of their proposed and final rules on small businesses, small 
organizations and small governmental jurisdictions. Business entities 
are defined as small by standard industry classification for the 
purposes of receiving Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance. 
One of the criteria for determining size, as stated in 13 CFR 121.201, 
is the number of employees in the firm; another criteria is annual 
receipts. For establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing or 
assembling automobiles, light and heavy duty trucks, buses, motor 
homes, new tires, or motor vehicle body manufacturing, the firm must 
have less than 1,000 employees to be classified as a small business. 
For establishments manufacturing many of the safety systems for which 
reporting will be required, steering, suspension, brakes, engines and 
power trains, or electrical system, or other motor vehicle parts not 
mentioned specifically in this paragraph, the firm must have less than 
750 employees to be classified as a small business. For establishments 
manufacturing truck trailers, motorcycles, child restraints, lighting, 
motor vehicle seating and interior trim packages, alterers and second-
stage manufacturers, or re-tread tires the firm must have less than 500 
employees to be classified as a small business.
    In Section VII.D, Periodic Review, above, we noted that there is 
some uncertainty about the number of small businesses who may be 
subject to reporting requirements beyond incidents involving death. 
Below we estimate that there could be as few as 15 or as many as 
hundreds that produce more than 500 vehicles. Because of the 
uncertainty, we are conducting a review of this industry to determine 
how many small businesses would be subject to more extensive reporting, 
which is expected to be completed by mid-2005.
    There may also be some uncertainty about the impacts. In our view, 
the more extensive reporting required of these small businesses will 
not impose a cost burden on them that is significantly different from 
the burden on those producing fewer than 500 vehicles. The costs of 
reporting are directly related to the volume of reportable 
communications submitted to manufacturers. Even though some small 
businesses would be reporting on more categories of information and at 
more frequent intervals, the total number of reportable communications 
would probably be low enough that the company would be able to use its 
existing computers with commercially available software to prepare its 
reports, without having to invest in a new computer system. However, we 
will want to confirm this as part of our review.
    Based on the best information available to us at this time, I 
certify that this final rule will not have a significant

[[Page 45871]]

economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Information 
on the number of small businesses manufacturing relevant equipment or 
vehicles currently sold in the United States, by product category, is 
presented below.
    1. Passenger cars and light trucks, including vans, SUV's and 
pickups. There are 16 major manufacturers of passenger cars and light 
trucks, including vans, SUV's and pickups sold in the United States. 
All are large businesses by the definition of having more than 1,000 
employees. In addition, NHTSA knows of four small manufacturers of 
(complete) motor vehicles in the United States accounting for less than 
1 percent of U.S. production, and in addition, several hundred small 
enterprises that modified or completed unfinished vehicles, of which 
many were van converters.
    2. Medium and heavy trucks. NHTSA believes there are 12 
manufacturers of medium and heavy trucks sold in the United States. All 
are large businesses with more than 1,000 employees.
    3. Buses. NHTSA believes there are 19 bus manufacturers, of which 
14 are small manufacturers with less than 1,000 employees.
    4. Motorcycles. Based on docket comments, there are 12 motorcycle 
or moped manufacturers. We identified 2 motorcycle manufacturers as 
small businesses with less than 500 employees.
    5. Trailers. We estimate that there are 8 large trailer 
manufacturers and hundreds of small businesses that manufacture 
trailers (boat trailers, U-haul type trailers, horse trailers, 
landscape, tree, and yard care equipment trailers, motorcycle/all-
terrain vehicle trailers, cars-in tow trailers, and work-performing 
equipment trailers, e.g., compressors, signs, lights/generators, leaf 
collecting/mulch, roof and road tar heating).
    6. Tires. NHTSA believes there are 10 tire manufacturers, which are 
all large businesses. The International Tire and Rubber Association 
website indicates that there are approximately 1,126 retread tire 
plants in the United States, of which approximately 95 percent are 
owned/operated by small businesses with less than 500 employees.
    7. Child restraint systems. Available information on child 
restraint system manufacturers yields a total of 10 independent 
enterprises, of which 3 have less than 500 employees and qualify as 
small businesses.
    8. Manufacturers of original equipment and manufacturers of 
replacement equipment other than child restraint systems and tires. 
While there are many manufacturers of original and replacement 
equipment (other than manufacturers of child restraint systems and 
tires) that are small businesses, these manufacturers will have a 
reporting obligation under this regulation limited to incidents of 
death involving their products. These are expected to be rare. Thus, 
this rule will have only a slight impact on these manufacturers.
    The agency has decided to limit the impact on small businesses by 
excluding from most of the reporting requirements any vehicle 
manufacturer that produces fewer than 500 vehicles a year, by category 
of vehicle. This exclusion will apply to many of the small businesses 
discussed above. We will also exclude registered importers (the 
vehicles imported by registered importers generally comprise a mixed 
fleet fabricated by more than a single company). However, these 
smaller-volume manufacturers will not be exempt from the requirements 
to report to us claims submitted against them for death, and to report 
notices of fatalities that are alleged or proven to have been caused by 
possible defects in their vehicles in the United States. We suspect 
there will be very few reports per year from manufacturers that produce 
fewer than 500 vehicles per year.
    Executive Order 13132 (Federalism). Executive Order 13132 on 
``Federalism'' requires us to develop an accountable process to ensure 
``meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the 
development of ``regulatory policies that have federalism 
implications.'' The Executive Order defines this phrase to include 
regulations ``that have substantial direct effects on the States, on 
the relationship between the national government and the States, or on 
the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels 
of government.'' The agency has analyzed this final rule in accordance 
with the principles and criteria set forth in Executive Order 13132 and 
has determined that it will not have sufficient federalism implications 
to warrant consultation with State and local officials or the 
preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. This final rule 
regulates the manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle 
equipment and will not have substantial direct effect on the States, on 
the relationship between the national government and the States, or on 
the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels 
of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132.
    Civil Justice Reform. This final rule will not have a retroactive 
or preemptive effect, and judicial review of it may be obtained 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 702. That section does not require that a petition 
for reconsideration be filed prior to seeking judicial review.
    Paperwork Reduction Act. The final rule requires manufacturers of 
motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to report information and 
data to NHTSA periodically. While we have not adopted a standardized 
form for reporting information, we will be requiring manufacturers to 
submit information utilizing specified templates. The provisions of 
this rule, including document retention provisions, are considered to 
be information collection requirements, as that term is defined by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 5 CFR Part 1320. We have 
requested and received emergency clearance from OMB for the information 
collection required by this rule. The clearance number is 2127-0616, 
expiration date September 30, 2002. To obtain a three-year clearance 
for information collection, we published a Paperwork Reduction Act 
notice on June 25, 2002 (67 FR 42843) pursuant to the requirements of 
the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Comments are due 
by August 26, 2002. We request that comments relating to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act be directed to that notice.
Data Quality Guidelines
    The information that NHTSA is mandated to collect may be made 
available to the public via the agency's website. The distribution of 
such data via the agency's website may constitute ``information 
dissemination'' as that term is defined under the Guidelines for 
Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and 
Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies 
(``Information Quality Guidelines'') issued by the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) (67 FR 8452, Feb. 22, 2002) and prepared, in draft 
form, by the Department of Transportation (DOT) (67 FR 21319, Apr. 30. 
2002). DOT's final Guidelines will be issued by October 1, 2002.
    If a determination were made that the public distribution of the 
early warning data constituted information dissemination and was, 
therefore, subject to the OMB/DOT Information Quality Guidelines, then 
the agency would review the information prior to distribution to 
ascertain its utility, objectivity, and integrity (collectively, 
``quality''). Under the Guidelines, any affected person who believed 
that the

[[Page 45872]]

information ultimately disseminated by NHTSA was of insufficient 
quality could file a complaint with the agency. The agency would review 
the disputed information, make an initial determination of whether it 
agreed with the complainant, and notify the complainant of its initial 
determination. Once notified of the initial determination, the affected 
person could file an appeal with the agency.

List of Subjects

49 CFR Part 573

    Motor vehicle equipment, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Tires.

49 CFR Part 574

    Labeling, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Rubber and rubber products, Tires.

49 CFR Part 576

    Motor vehicle safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

49 CFR Part 579

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR chapter V is amended as 
follows:

PART 573--DEFECT AND NONCOMPLIANCE RESPONSIBILITY AND REPORTS

    1. Part 573 heading is revised to read as set forth above.

    2. The authority citation for part 573 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30102-103, 30112, 30117-121, 30166-167; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    3. Section 573.1 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 573.1  Scope.

    This part:
    (a) Sets forth the responsibilities under 49 U.S.C. 30117-30120 of 
manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment with 
respect to safety-related defects and noncompliances with Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards in motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle 
equipment; and
    (b) Specifies requirements for--
    (1) Manufacturers to maintain lists of purchasers and owners 
notified of defective and noncomplying motor vehicles and motor vehicle 
original and replacement equipment,
    (2) Reporting to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(NHTSA) defects in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment and 
noncompliances with motor vehicle safety standards prescribed under 
part 571 of this chapter, and
    (3) Providing quarterly reports on defect and noncompliance 
notification campaigns.

    4. Section 573.2 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 573.2  Purposes.

    The purposes of this part are:
    (a) To facilitate the notification of owners of defective and 
noncomplying motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment, and 
the remedy of such defects and noncompliances, by equitably 
apportioning the responsibility for safety-related defects and 
noncompliances with Federal motor vehicle safety standards among 
manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment; and
    (b) To inform NHTSA of defective and noncomplying motor vehicles 
and items of motor vehicle equipment, and to obtain information for 
NHTSA on the adequacy of manufacturers' defect and noncompliance 
notification campaigns, on corrective action, on owner response, and to 
compare the defect incidence rate among different groups of vehicles.

    5. Section 573.4 is amended by adding in alphabetical order 
definitions for Original equipment and Replacement equipment to read as 
follows:


Sec. 573.4  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Original equipment means an item of motor vehicle equipment (other 
than a tire) that was installed in or on a motor vehicle at the time of 
its delivery to the first purchaser if the item of equipment was 
installed on or in the motor vehicle at the time of its delivery to a 
dealer or distributor for distribution, or was installed by the dealer 
or distributor with the express authorizations of the motor vehicle 
manufacturer.
* * * * *
    Replacement equipment means motor vehicle equipment other than 
original equipment as defined in this section, and tires.


Sec. 573.8  [Removed]

    6. Section 573.8 is removed.


Secs. 573.5 through 573.7  [Redesignated as Secs. 573.6 through 573.8]

    7. Sections 573.5 through 573.7 are redesignated as Secs. 573.6 
through 573.8 respectively.

    8. New Sec. 573.5 is added to read as follows:


Sec. 573.5  Defect and noncompliance responsibility.

    (a) Each manufacturer of a motor vehicle shall be responsible for 
any safety-related defect or any noncompliance determined to exist in 
the vehicle or in any item of original equipment.
    (b) Each manufacturer of an item of replacement equipment shall be 
responsible for any safety-related defect or any noncompliance 
determined to exist in the equipment.

PART 574--TIRE IDENTIFICATION AND RECORDKEEPING

    9. The authority citation for part 574 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117, and 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    10. Section 574.7(d) preceding the graphic is revised to read as 
follows:


Sec. 574.7  Information requirements--new tire manufacturers, new tire 
brand name owners.

* * * * *
    (d) The information that is specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this 
section and recorded on registration forms submitted to a tire 
manufacturer or its designee shall be maintained for a period of not 
less than five years from the date on which the information is recorded 
by the manufacturer or its designee.
* * * * *

    11. Section 574.10 is amended by revising the last sentence to read 
as follows:


Sec. 574.10  Requirements for motor vehicle manufacturers.

    * * * These records shall be maintained for a period of not less 
than 5 years from the date of sale of the vehicle to the first 
purchaser for purposes other than resale.

PART 576--RECORD RETENTION

    12. The authority citation for part 576 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322(a), 30117, 30120(g), 30141-30147; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    13. Section 576.1 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 576.1  Scope.

    This part establishes requirements for the retention by 
manufacturers of motor vehicles and of motor vehicle equipment, of 
claims, complaints, reports, and other records concerning alleged and 
proven motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment defects and

[[Page 45873]]

malfunctions that may be related to motor vehicle safety.

    14. Section 576.3 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 576.3  Application.

    This part applies to all manufacturers of motor vehicles, with 
respect to all records generated or acquired on or after August 16, 
1969, and to all manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment, with respect 
to all records in their possession, generated or acquired on or after 
August 9, 2002.

    15. Section 576.4 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 576.4  Definitions.

    All terms in this part that are defined in 49 U.S.C. 30102 and part 
579 of this chapter are used as defined therein.

    16. Section 576.5 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 576.5  Basic requirements.

    (a) Each manufacturer of motor vehicles, child restraint systems, 
and tires shall retain, as specified in Sec. 576.7 of this part, all 
records described in Sec. 576.6 of this part for a period of five 
calendar years from the date on which they were generated or acquired 
by the manufacturer.
    (b) Each manufacturer of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment 
shall retain, as specified in Sec. 576.7 of this part, all the 
underlying records on which the information reported under part 579 of 
this chapter is based, for a period of five calendar years from the 
date on which they were generated or acquired by the manufacturer, 
except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section.
    (c) Manufacturers need not retain copies of documents transmitted 
to NHTSA pursuant to parts 573, 577, and 579 of this chapter.
    17. Section 576.6 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 576.6  Records.

    Records to be maintained by manufacturers under this part include 
all documentary materials, films, tapes, and other information-storing 
media that contain information concerning malfunctions that may be 
related to motor vehicle safety. Such records include, but are not 
limited to, reports and other documents, including material generated 
or communicated by computer, telefax or other electronic means, that 
are related to work performed under warranties; and any lists, 
compilations, analyses, or discussions of such malfunctions contained 
in internal or external correspondence of the manufacturer, including 
communications transmitted electronically.

    18. Part 579 is revised to read as follows:

PART 579--REPORTING OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS ABOUT 
POTENTIAL DEFECTS

Subpart A--General
Sec.
579.1   Scope.
579.2   Purpose.
579.3   Application.
579.4   Terminology.
579.5   Notices, bulletins, customer satisfaction campaigns, 
consumer advisories, and other communications.
579.6   Address for submitting reports and other information.
579.7-579.10   [Reserved]
Subpart B--Reporting of Defects in Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle 
Equipment in Countries Other Than the United States
579.11-579.20   [Reserved]
Subpart C--Reporting of Early Warning Information
579.21   Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
light vehicles annually.
579.22   Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
medium-heavy vehicles and buses annually.
579.23   Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
motorcycles annually.
579.24   Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
trailers annually.
579.25   Reporting requirements for manufacturers of child restraint 
systems.
579.26   Reporting requirements for manufacturers of tires.
579.27   Reporting requirements for manufacturers of fewer than 500 
vehicles annually, for manufacturers of original equipment, and for 
manufacturers of replacement equipment other than child restraint 
systems and tires.
579.28   Due date of reports and other miscellaneous provisions.
579.29   Manner of reporting.

    Authority: Sec. 3, Pub. L. 106-414, 114 Stat. 1800 (49 U.S.C. 
30102-103, 30112, 30117-121, 30166-167); delegation of authority at 
49 CFR 1.50.

Subpart A--General


Sec. 579.1  Scope.

    This part sets forth requirements for reporting information and 
submitting documents that may help identify defects related to motor 
vehicle safety and noncompliances with Federal motor vehicle safety 
standards, including reports of foreign safety recalls and other 
safety-related campaigns conducted outside the United States under 49 
U.S.C. 30166(l), early warning information under 49 U.S.C. 30166(m), 
and copies of communications about defects and noncompliances under 49 
U.S.C. 30166(f).


Sec. 579.2  Purpose.

    The purpose of this part is to enhance motor vehicle safety by 
specifying information and documents that manufacturers of motor 
vehicles and motor vehicle equipment must provide to NHTSA with respect 
to possible safety-related defects and noncompliances in their 
products.


Sec. 579.3  Application.

    (a) This part applies to all manufacturers of motor vehicles and 
motor vehicle equipment with respect to all motor vehicles and motor 
vehicle equipment that have been offered for sale, sold, or leased in 
the United States by the manufacturer, including any parent 
corporation, any subsidiary or affiliate of the manufacturer, or any 
subsidiary or affiliate of any parent corporation, and with respect to 
all motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment that have been offered 
for sale, sold, or leased in a foreign country by the manufacturer, 
including any parent corporation, any subsidiary or affiliate of the 
manufacturer, or any subsidiary or affiliate of any parent corporation, 
and are substantially similar to any motor vehicles or motor vehicle 
equipment that have been offered for sale, sold, or leased in the 
United States.
    (b) In the case of any report required under subpart C of this 
part, compliance by the fabricating manufacturer, the importer, the 
brand name owner, or a parent or United States subsidiary of such 
fabricator, importer, or brand name owner of the motor vehicle or motor 
vehicle equipment, shall be considered compliance by all persons.
    (c) With regard to any information required to be reported under 
subpart C of this part, an entity covered under paragraph (a) of this 
section need only review information and systems where information 
responsive to subpart C of this part is kept in the usual course of 
business.


Sec. 579.4  Terminology.

    (a) Statutory terms. The terms dealer, defect, distributor, motor 
vehicle, motor vehicle equipment, and State are used as defined in 49 
U.S.C. 30102.
    (b) Regulatory terms. The term Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) 
is used as defined in Sec. 565.3(o) of this chapter. The terms bus, 
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), motorcycle, multipurpose passenger 
vehicle, passenger car, trailer, and truck are used as defined in 
Sec. 571.3(b) of this chapter.

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The term Booster seat is used as defined in S4 of Sec. 571.213 of this 
chapter. The term Tire Identification Number (TIN) is the ``tire 
identification number'' described in Sec. 574.5 of this chapter. The 
term Limited production tire is used as defined in Sec. 575.104(c)(2) 
of this chapter.
    (c) Other terms. The following terms apply to this part:
    Administrator means the Administrator of the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), or the Administrator's delegate.
    Affiliate means, in the context of an affiliate of or person 
affiliated with a specified person, a person that directly, or 
indirectly through one or more intermediates, controls or is controlled 
by, or is under common control with, the person specified. The term 
person usually is a corporation.
    Air bag means an air bag or other automatic occupant restraint 
device (other than a ``seat belt'' as defined in this subpart) 
installed in a motor vehicle that restrains an occupant in the event of 
a vehicle crash without requiring any action on the part of the 
occupant to obtain the benefit of the restraint. This term includes 
inflatable restraints (front and side air bags), knee bolsters, and any 
other automatic restraining device that may be developed that does not 
include a restraining belt or harness. This term also includes all air 
bag-related components, such as the inflator assembly, air bag module, 
control module, crash sensors and all hardware and software associated 
with the air bag. This term includes all associated switches, control 
units, connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, 
etc.), and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Base means the detachable bottom portion of a child restraint 
system that may remain in the vehicle to provide a base for securing 
the system to a seat in a motor vehicle.
    Bead means all the materials in a tire below the sidewalls in the 
rim contact area, including bead rubber components, the bead bundle and 
rubber coating if present, the body ply and its turn-up including the 
rubber coating, rubber, fabric, or metallic reinforcing materials, and 
the inner-liner rubber under the bead area.
    Brand name owner means a person that markets a motor vehicle or 
motor vehicle equipment under its own trade name whether or not it is 
the fabricator or importer of the vehicle or equipment.
    Buckle and restraint harness means the components of a child 
restraint system that are intended to restrain a child seated in such a 
system, including the belt webbing, buckles, buckle release mechanism, 
belt adjusters, belt positioning devices, and shields.
    Child restraint system means any system that meets, or is offered 
for sale in the United States as meeting, any definition in S4 of 
Sec. 571.213 of this chapter, or that is offered for sale as a child 
restraint system in a foreign country.
    Claim means a written request or written demand for relief, 
including money or other compensation, assumption of expenditures, or 
equitable relief, related to a motor vehicle crash, accident, the 
failure of a component or system of a vehicle or an item of motor 
vehicle equipment, or a fire originating in or from a motor vehicle or 
a substance that leaked from a motor vehicle. Claim includes, but is 
not limited to, a demand in the absence of a lawsuit, a complaint 
initiating a lawsuit, an assertion or notice of litigation, a 
settlement, covenant not to sue or release of liability in the absence 
of a written demand, and a subrogation request. A claim exists 
regardless of any denial or refusal to pay it, and regardless of 
whether it has been settled or resolved in the manufacturer's favor. 
The existence of a claim may not be conditioned on the receipt of 
anything beyond the document(s) stating a claim. Claim does not include 
demands related to asbestos exposure, to emissions of volatile organic 
compounds from vehicle interiors, or to end-of-life disposal of 
vehicles, parts or components of vehicles, equipment, or parts or 
components of equipment.
    Common green tires means tires that are produced to the same 
internal specifications but that have, or may have, different external 
characteristics and may be sold under different tire line names.
    Consumer complaint means a communication of any kind made by a 
consumer (or other person) to or with a manufacturer addressed to the 
company, an officer thereof or an entity thereof that handles consumer 
matters, a manufacturer website that receives consumer complaints, a 
manufacturer electronic mail system that receives such information at 
the corporate level, or that are otherwise received by a unit within 
the manufacturer that receives consumer inquiries or complaints, 
including telephonic complaints, expressing dissatisfaction with a 
product, or relating the unsatisfactory performance of a product, or 
any actual or potential defect in a product, or any event that 
allegedly was caused by any actual or potential defect in a product, 
but not including a claim of any kind or a notice involving a fatality 
or injury.
    Customer satisfaction campaign, consumer advisory, recall, or other 
activity involving the repair or replacement of motor vehicles or motor 
vehicle equipment means any communication by a manufacturer to, or made 
available to, more than one dealer, distributor, lessor, lessee, other 
manufacturer, or owner, whether in writing or by electronic means, 
relating to repair, replacement, or modification of a vehicle, 
component of a vehicle, item of equipment, or a component thereof, the 
manner in which a vehicle or child restraint system is to be maintained 
or operated (excluding promotional and marketing materials, customer 
satisfaction surveys, and operating instructions or owner's manuals 
that accompany the vehicle or child restraint system at the time of 
first sale); or advice or direction to a dealer or distributor to cease 
the delivery or sale of specified models of vehicles or equipment.
    Dealer field report means a field report from a dealer or 
authorized service facility of a manufacturer of motor vehicles or 
motor vehicle equipment.
    Electrical system means any electrical or electronic component of a 
motor vehicle that is not included in one of the other reporting 
categories enumerated in subpart C of this part, and specifically 
includes the battery, battery cables, alternator, fuses, and main body 
wiring harnesses of the motor vehicle and the ignition system, 
including the ignition switch and starter motor. The term also includes 
all associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as 
wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Engine and engine cooling means the component (e.g., motor) of a 
motor vehicle providing motive power to the vehicle, and includes the 
exhaust system (including the exhaust emission system), the engine 
control unit, engine lubrication system, and the underhood cooling 
system for that engine. This term also includes all associated 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, 
hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as brackets, 
fasteners, etc.).
    Equipment comprises original and replacement equipment: (1) 
Original equipment means an item of motor vehicle equipment (other than 
a tire) that was installed in or on a motor vehicle at the time of its 
delivery to the first purchaser if the item of equipment was installed 
on or in the motor vehicle at the time of its delivery to a dealer or 
distributor for distribution; or the item

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of equipment was installed by the dealer or distributor with the 
express authorization of the motor vehicle manufacturer.
    (2) Replacement equipment means motor vehicle equipment other than 
original equipment, and tires.
    Exterior lighting mean all the exterior lamps (including any 
interior-mounted center highmounted stop lamp if mounted in the 
interior of a vehicle), lenses, reflectors, and associated equipment of 
a motor vehicle, including all associated switches, control units, 
connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, piping, etc.), and 
mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Field report means a communication in writing, including 
communications in electronic form, from an employee or representative 
of a manufacturer of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, a 
dealer or authorized service facility of such manufacturer, or by an 
entity that owns or operates a fleet, to a manufacturer, regarding the 
failure, malfunction, lack of durability, or other performance problem 
of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, or any part thereof, 
produced for sale by that manufacturer, regardless of whether verified 
or assessed to be lacking in merit, but does not include a document 
contained in a litigation file that was created after the date of the 
filing of a civil complaint that relates to the specific vehicle, 
component, or system at issue in the litigation.
    Fire means combustion or burning of any material in a vehicle as 
evidenced by, but not limited to, flame, smoke, sparks, or smoldering.
    Fleet means more than ten motor vehicles of the same make, model, 
and model year.
    Fuel system means all components of a motor vehicle used to receive 
and store fuel, and to transfer fuel between the vehicle's fuel 
storage, engine, or fuel emission systems. This term includes, but is 
not limited to, the fuel tank and filler cap, neck, and pipe, along 
with associated piping, hoses, and clamps, the fuel pump, fuel lines, 
connectors from the fuel tank to the engine, the fuel injection/
carburetion system (including fuel injector rails and injectors), and 
the fuel vapor recovery system(s), canister(s), and vent lines. The 
term also includes all associated switches, control units, connective 
elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting 
elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Good will means the repair or replacement of a motor vehicle or 
item of motor vehicle equipment, including labor, paid for by the 
manufacturer, at least in part, when the repair or replacement is not 
covered under warranty, or under a safety recall reported to NHTSA 
under part 573 of this chapter.
    Incomplete light vehicle means an incomplete vehicle as defined in 
Sec. 568.3 of this chapter which, when completed, will be a light 
vehicle.
    Integrated child restraint system means a factory-installed built-
in child restraint system as defined in S4 of Sec. 571.213 of this 
chapter and includes any factory-authorized built-in child restraint 
system.
    Latch means a latching, locking, or linking system of a motor 
vehicle and all its components fitted to a vehicle's exterior doors, 
rear hatch, liftgate, tailgate, trunk, or hood. This term also 
includes, but is not limited to, devices for the remote operation of a 
latching device such as remote release cables (and associated 
components), electric release devices, or wireless control release 
devices, and includes all components covered in FMVSS No. 206. This 
term also includes all associated switches, control units, connective 
elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting 
elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Light vehicle means any motor vehicle, except a bus, motorcycle, or 
trailer, with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs or less.
    Make means a name that a manufacturer applies to a group of 
vehicles.
    Manufacturer means a person manufacturing or assembling motor 
vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, or importing motor vehicles or 
motor vehicle equipment for resale. This term includes any parent 
corporation, any subsidiary or affiliate, and any subsidiary or 
affiliate of a parent corporation of such a person.
    Medium-heavy vehicle means any motor vehicle, except a trailer, 
with a GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs.
    Minimal specificity means:
    (1) for a vehicle, the make, model, and model year,
    (2) for a child seat, the manufacturer and the model (either the 
model name or model number),
    (3) for a tire, the manufacturer, tire line, and tire size, and
    (4) for other motor vehicle equipment, the manufacturer and, if 
there is a model or family of models identified on the item of 
equipment, the model name or model number.
    Model means a name that a manufacturer of motor vehicles applies to 
a family of vehicles within a make which have a degree of commonality 
in construction, such as body, chassis or cab type. For equipment, it 
means the name that its manufacturer uses to designate it.
    Model year means the year that a manufacturer uses to designate a 
discrete model of vehicle, irrespective of the calendar year in which 
the vehicle was manufactured; if a year is not so designated, it means 
the year the vehicle was produced. For equipment, it means the year 
that the item was produced.
    Notice means a document, other than a media article, that does not 
include a demand for relief, and that a manufacturer receives from a 
person other than NHTSA.
    Parking brake means a mechanism installed in a motor vehicle which 
is designed to prevent the movement of a stationary motor vehicle, 
including all associated switches, control units, connective elements 
(such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements 
(such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Platform means the basic structure of a vehicle including, but not 
limited to, the majority of the floorpan or undercarriage, and elements 
of the engine compartment. The term includes a structure that a 
manufacturer designates as a platform. A group of vehicles sharing a 
common structure or chassis shall be considered to have a common 
platform regardless of whether such vehicles are of the same type, are 
of the same make, or are sold by the same manufacturer.
    Power train means the components or systems of a motor vehicle 
which transfer motive power from the engine to the wheels, including 
the transmission (manual and automatic), gear selection devices and 
associated linkages, clutch, constant velocity joints, transfer case, 
driveline, differential(s), and all driven axle assemblies. This term 
includes all associated switches, control units, connective elements 
(such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements 
(such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Property damage means physical injury to tangible property.
    Property damage claim means a claim for property damage, excluding 
that part of a claim, if any, pertaining solely to damage to a 
component or system of a vehicle or an item of equipment itself based 
on the alleged failure or malfunction of the component, system, or 
item, and further excluding matters addressed under warranty.
    Rear-facing infant seat means a child restraint system that 
positions a child to face in the direction opposite to the

[[Page 45876]]

normal direction of travel of the motor vehicle.
    Reporting period means a calendar quarter of a year, unless 
otherwise stated.
    Rollover means a single-vehicle crash in which a motor vehicle 
rotates on its longitudinal axis to at least 90 degrees, regardless of 
whether it comes to rest on its wheels.
    Seats means all components of a motor vehicle that are subject to 
FMVSS Nos. 202, 207, and S9 of 209, including all electrical and 
electronic components within the seat that are related to seat 
positioning, heating, and cooling. This term also includes all 
associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring 
harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Seat belts means any belt system, other than an air bag, that may 
or may not require the occupant to latch, fasten, or secure the 
components of the seat belt/webbing based restraint system to ready its 
use for protection of the occupant in the event of a vehicle crash. 
This term includes the webbing, buckle, anchorage, retractor, belt 
pretensioner devices, load limiters, and all components, hardware and 
software associated with an automatic or manual seat belt system 
addressed by FMVSS No. 209 or 210. This term also includes integrated 
child restraint systems in vehicles, and includes any device (and all 
components of that device), installed in a motor vehicle in accordance 
with FMVSS No. 213, which is designed for use as a safety restraint 
device for a child too small to use a vehicle's seat belts. This term 
includes all vehicle components installed in accordance with FMVSS No. 
225. This term also includes all associated switches, control units, 
connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), 
and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Seat shell means the portion of a child restraint system that 
provides the structural shape, form and support for the system, and for 
other components of the system such as belt attachment points, and 
anchorage points to allow the system to be secured to a passenger seat 
in a motor vehicle, but not including a shield.
    Service brake system means all components of the service braking 
system of a motor vehicle intended for the transfer of braking 
application force from the operator to the wheels of a vehicle, 
including the foundation braking system, such as the brake pedal, 
master cylinder, fluid lines and hoses, braking assist components, 
brake calipers, wheel cylinders, brake discs, brake drums, brake pads, 
brake shoes, and other related equipment installed in a motor vehicle 
in order to comply with FMVSS Nos. 105, 121, 122, or 135. This term 
also includes systems and devices for automatic control of the brake 
system such as antilock braking, traction control, stability control, 
and enhanced braking. The term includes all associated switches, 
control units, connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, 
piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, 
etc.).
    Sidewall means the area of a tire between the tread and the bead 
area, including the sidewall rubber components, the body ply and its 
coating rubber under the side area, and the inner-liner rubber under 
the body ply in the side area.
    SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) means the alpha-numeric designation 
assigned by a manufacturer to a tire product.
    Steering system means all steering control system components, 
including the steering system mechanism and its associated hardware, 
the steering wheel, steering column, steering shaft, linkages, joints 
(including tie-rod ends), steering dampeners, and power steering assist 
systems. This term includes a steering control system as defined by 
FMVSS No. 203 and any subsystem or component of a steering control 
system, including those components defined in FMVSS No. 204. This term 
also includes all associated switches, control units, connective 
elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting 
elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Structure means any part of a motor vehicle that serves to maintain 
the shape and size of the vehicle, including the frame, the floorpan, 
the body, bumpers, doors, tailgate, hatchback, trunk lid, hood, and 
roof. The term also includes all associated mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Suspension system means all components and hardware associated with 
a motor vehicle suspension system, including the associated control 
arms, steering knuckles, spindles, joints, bushings, ball joints, 
springs, shock absorbers, stabilizer (anti sway) bars, and bearings 
that are designed to minimize the impact on the vehicle chassis of 
shocks from road surface irregularities that may be transmitted through 
the wheels, and to provide stability when the vehicle is being operated 
through a range of speed, load, and dynamic conditions. The term also 
includes all electronic control systems and mechanisms for active 
suspension control, as well as all associated components such as 
switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, 
hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as brackets, 
fasteners, etc.).
    Tire means an item of motor vehicle equipment intended to interface 
between the road and a motor vehicle. The term includes all the tires 
of a vehicle, including the spare tire. This term also includes the 
tire inflation valves, tubes, and tire pressure monitoring and 
regulating systems, as well as all associated switches, control units, 
connective elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), 
and mounting elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Tire line means the entire name used by a tire manufacturer to 
designate a tire product including all prefixes and suffixes as they 
appear on the sidewall of a tire.
    Trailer hitch means all coupling systems, devices, and components 
thereof, designed to join or connect any two motor vehicles. This term 
also includes all associated switches, control units, connective 
elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting 
elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Tread (also known as crown) means all materials in the tread area 
of a tire including the rubber that makes up the tread, the sub-base 
rubber, when present, between the tread base and the top of the belts, 
the belt material, either steel and/or fabric, and the rubber coating 
of the same including any rubber inserts, the body ply and its coating 
rubber under the tread area of the tire, and the inner-liner rubber 
under the tread.
    Type means, in the context of a light vehicle, a vehicle certified 
by its manufacturer pursuant to Sec. 567.4(g)(7) of this chapter as a 
passenger car, multipurpose passenger vehicle, or truck, or a vehicle 
identified by its manufacturer as an incomplete vehicle pursuant to 
Sec. 568.4 of this chapter. In the context of a child restraint system, 
it means the category of child restraint system selected from one of 
the following: rear-facing infant seat, booster seat, or other.
    Vehicle speed control means the systems and components of a motor 
vehicle that control vehicle speed either by command of the operator or 
by automatic control, including, but not limited, to the accelerator 
pedal, linkages, cables, springs, speed control devices (such as cruise 
control) and speed limiting devices. This term includes, but is not 
limited to the items addressed by FMVSS No. 124 and all

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associated switches, control units, connective elements (such as wiring 
harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting elements (such as 
brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Visibility means the systems and components of a motor vehicle 
through which a driver views the surroundings of the vehicle including 
windshield, side windows, back window, and rear view mirrors, and 
systems and components used to wash and wipe windshields and back 
windows. This term includes those vehicular systems and components that 
can affect the ability of the driver to clearly see the roadway and 
surrounding area, such as the systems and components identified in 
FMVSS Nos. 103, 104, and 111. This term also includes the defogger/
defroster system, the heater core, blower fan, windshield wiper 
systems, mirrors, windows and glazing material, heads-up display (HUD) 
systems, and exterior view-based television systems, but does not 
include exterior lighting systems which are defined under ``Lighting.'' 
This term includes all associated switches, control units, connective 
elements (such as wiring harnesses, hoses, piping, etc.), and mounting 
elements (such as brackets, fasteners, etc.).
    Warranty means any written affirmation of fact or written promise 
made in connection with the sale or lease of a motor vehicle or motor 
vehicle equipment by a manufacturer to a buyer or lessee that relates 
to the nature of the material or workmanship and affirms or promises 
that such material or workmanship is defect free or will meet a 
specified level of performance over a specified period of time 
(including any extensions of such specified period of time), or any 
undertaking in writing in connection with the sale or lease by a 
manufacturer of a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment to 
refund, repair, replace, or take other remedial action with respect to 
such product in the event that such product fails to meet the 
specifications set forth in the undertaking.
    Warranty adjustment means any payment or other restitution, such 
as, but not limited to, replacement, repair, credit, or cash refund, 
made by a tire manufacturer to a consumer or to a dealer, in 
reimbursement for payment or other restitution to a consumer, pursuant 
to a warranty program offered by the manufacturer.
    Warranty claim means any claim paid by a manufacturer, including 
provision of a credit, pursuant to a warranty program, an extended 
warranty program, or good will. It does not include claims for 
reimbursement for costs or expenses for work performed to remedy a 
safety-related defect or noncompliance reported to NHTSA under part 573 
of this chapter, or in connection with an emissions-related recall 
under the Clean Air Act.
    Wheel means the assembly or component of a motor vehicle to which a 
tire is mounted. The term includes any item of motor vehicle equipment 
used to attach the wheel to the vehicle, including inner cap nuts and 
the wheel studs, bolts, and nuts.
    (d) Terms related to foreign claims. For purposes of subpart C of 
this part:
    (1) A motor vehicle sold or in use outside the United States is 
identical or substantially similar to a motor vehicle sold or offered 
for sale in the United States if--
    (i) Such a vehicle has been sold in Canada or has been certified as 
complying with the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards;
    (ii) Such a vehicle is listed in the VSP or VSA columns of Appendix 
A to part 593 of this chapter;
    (iii) Such a vehicle is manufactured in the United States for sale 
in a foreign country; or
    (iv) Such a vehicle uses the same vehicle platform as a vehicle 
sold or offered for sale in the United States.
    (2) An item of motor vehicle equipment sold or in use outside the 
United States is identical or substantially similar to equipment sold 
or offered for sale in the United States if such equipment and the 
equipment sold or offered for sale in the United States have one or 
more components or systems that are the same, and the component or 
system performs the same function in vehicles or equipment sold or 
offered for sale in the United States, regardless of whether the part 
numbers are identical.
    (3) A tire sold or in use outside the United States is 
substantially similar to a tire sold or offered for sale in the United 
States if it has the same size, speed rating, load index, load range, 
number of plies and belts, and similar ply and belt construction and 
materials, placement of components, and component materials, 
irrespective of plant of manufacture or tire line.


Sec. 579.5  Notices, bulletins, customer satisfaction campaigns, 
consumer advisories, and other communications.

    (a) Each manufacturer shall furnish to NHTSA a copy of all notices, 
bulletins, and other communications (including those transmitted by 
computer, telefax, or other electronic means and including warranty and 
policy extension communiques and product improvement bulletins) other 
than those required to be submitted pursuant to Sec. 573.5(c)(9) of 
this chapter, sent to more than one manufacturer, distributor, dealer, 
lessor, lessee, owner, or purchaser, in the United States, regarding 
any defect in its vehicles or items of equipment (including any failure 
or malfunction beyond normal deterioration in use, or any failure of 
performance, or any flaw or unintended deviation from design 
specifications), whether or not such defect is safety-related.
    (b) Each manufacturer shall furnish to NHTSA a copy of each 
communication relating to a customer satisfaction campaign, consumer 
advisory, recall, or other safety activity involving the repair or 
replacement of motor vehicles or equipment, that the manufacturer 
issued to, or made available to, more than one dealer, distributor, 
lessor, lessee, other manufacturer, owner, or purchaser, in the United 
States.
    (c) If a notice or communication is required to be submitted under 
both paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, it need only be submitted 
once.
    (d) Each copy shall be in readable form and shall be submitted not 
more than five working days after the end of the month in which it was 
issued. Each submission shall be accompanied by a document identifying 
each communication in the submission by name or subject matter and 
date.


Sec. 579.6  Address for submitting reports and other information.

    Information, reports, and documents required to be submitted to 
NHTSA pursuant to this part, if submitted by mail, must be addressed to 
the Associate Administrator for Enforcement, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA), 400 7th Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 
20590. Information, documents, and reports that are submitted to 
NHTSA's early warning data repository shall be submitted in accordance 
with Sec. 579.29 of this part. Submissions must be made by a means that 
permits the sender to verify that the report was in fact received by 
NHTSA and the day it was received by NHTSA.

[[Page 45878]]

Secs. 579.7-579.10  [Reserved]

Subpart B--Reporting of Defects in Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle 
Equipment in Countries Other Than the United States


Secs. 579.11-579.20  [Reserved]

Subpart C--Reporting of Early Warning Information


Sec. 579.21  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
light vehicles annually.

    For each reporting period, a manufacturer whose aggregate number of 
light vehicles manufactured for sale, offered for sale, imported, or 
sold, in the United States, during the calendar year of the reporting 
period or during each of the prior two calendar years is 500 or more 
shall submit the information described in this section. For paragraphs 
(a) and (c) of this section, the manufacturer shall submit information 
separately with respect to each make, model, and model year of light 
vehicle manufactured during the reporting period and the nine model 
years prior to the earliest model year in the reporting period, 
including models no longer in production.
    (a) Production information. Information that states the 
manufacturer's name, the quarterly reporting period, the make, the 
model, the model year, the type, the platform, and the production. The 
production shall be stated as either the cumulative production of the 
current model year to the end of the reporting period, or the total 
model year production for each model year for which production has 
ceased.
    (b) Information on incidents involving death or injury. For all 
light vehicles less than ten calendar years old at the beginning of the 
reporting period:
    (1) A report on each incident involving one or more deaths or 
injuries occurring in the United States that is identified in a claim 
against and received by the manufacturer or in a notice received by the 
manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the death or injury 
was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's vehicle, together 
with each incident involving one or more deaths occurring in a foreign 
country that is identified in a claim against and received by the 
manufacturer involving the manufacturer's vehicle, if that vehicle is 
identical or substantially similar to a vehicle that the manufacturer 
has offered for sale in the United States. The report shall be 
submitted as a report on light vehicles and organized such that 
incidents are reported alphabetically by make, within each make 
alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by model 
year.
    (2) For each incident described in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section, the manufacturer shall separately report the make, model, 
model year, and VIN of the vehicle, the incident date, the number of 
deaths, the number of injuries for incidents occurring in the United 
States, the State or foreign country where the incident occurred, each 
system or component of the vehicle that allegedly contributed to the 
incident, and whether the incident involved a fire or rollover, coded 
as follows: 01 steering system, 02 suspension system, 03 service brake 
system, 05 parking brake, 06 engine and engine cooling system, 07 fuel 
system, 10 power train, 11 electrical system, 12 exterior lighting, 13 
visibility, 14 air bags, 15 seat belts, 16 structure, 17 latch, 18 
vehicle speed control, 19 tires, 20 wheels, 22 seats, 23 fire, 24 
rollover, 98 where a system or component not covered by categories 01 
through 22 is specified in the claim or notice, and 99 where no system 
or component of the vehicle is specified in the claim or notice. If an 
incident involves more than one such code, each shall be reported 
separately in the report with a limit of five codes to be included.
    (c) Numbers of property damage claims, consumer complaints, 
warranty claims, and field reports. Separate reports on the numbers of 
those property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, and 
field reports which involve the systems and components that are 
specified in codes 01 through 22 in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, 
or a fire (code 23), or rollover (code 24). Each such report shall 
state, separately by each such code, the number of such property damage 
claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, or field reports, 
respectively, that involves the systems or components or fire or 
rollover indicated by the code. If an underlying property damage claim, 
consumer complaint, warranty claim, or field report involves more than 
one such code, each shall be reported separately in the report with no 
limit on the number of codes to be included. No reporting is necessary 
if the system or component involved is not specified in such codes, and 
the incident did not involve a fire or rollover.
    (d) Copies of field reports. For all light vehicles less than ten 
calendar years old as of the beginning of the reporting period, a copy 
of each field report (other than a dealer report) involving one or more 
of the systems or components identified in paragraph (b)(2) of this 
section, or fire, or rollover, containing any assessment of an alleged 
failure, malfunction, lack of durability, or other performance problem 
of a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment (including any 
part thereof) that is originated by an employee or representative of 
the manufacturer and that the manufacturer received during a reporting 
period. These documents shall be submitted alphabetically by make, 
within each make alphabetically by model, and within each model 
chronologically by model year.


Sec. 579.22  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
medium-heavy vehicles and buses annually.

    For each reporting period, a manufacturer whose aggregate number of 
medium-heavy vehicles and buses manufactured for sale, offered for 
sale, imported, or sold, in the United States, during the calendar year 
of the reporting period or during either of the prior two calendar 
years is 500 or more shall submit the information described in this 
section. For paragraphs (a) and (c) of this section, the manufacturer 
shall submit information separately with respect to each make, model, 
and model year of medium-heavy vehicle and bus manufactured during the 
reporting period and the nine model years prior to the earliest model 
year in the reporting period, including models no longer in production.
    (a) Production information. Information that states the 
manufacturer's name, the quarterly reporting period, the make, the 
model, the model year, and the production. The production shall be 
stated as either the cumulative production of the current model year to 
the end of the reporting period, or the total model year production for 
each model year for which production has ceased. For each model that is 
manufactured and available with more than one type of fuel system 
(i.e., gasoline, diesel, or other (including vehicles that can be 
operated using more than one type of fuel, such as gasoline and 
compressed natural gas)), the information required by this subsection 
shall be reported separately by each of the three fuel system types. 
For each model that is manufactured and available with more than one 
type of service brake system (i.e., hydraulic or air), the information 
required by this subsection shall be reported by each of the two brake 
types. If the service brake system in a vehicle is not readily 
characterized as either hydraulic or air, the vehicle shall be 
considered to have hydraulic service brakes.
    (b) Information on incidents involving death or injury. For all 
medium-heavy

[[Page 45879]]

vehicles and buses less than ten calendar years old at the beginning of 
the reporting period:
    (1) A report on each incident involving one or more deaths or 
injuries occurring in the United States that is identified in a claim 
against and received by the manufacturer or in a notice received by the 
manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the death or injury 
was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's vehicle, together 
with each incident involving one or more deaths occurring in a foreign 
country that is identified in a claim against and received by the 
manufacturer involving the manufacturer's vehicle, if that vehicle is 
identical or substantially similar to a vehicle that the manufacturer 
has offered for sale in the United States. The report shall be 
submitted as a report on medium-heavy vehicles and buses and organized 
such that incidents are reported alphabetically by make, within each 
make alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by 
model year.
    (2) For each incident described in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section, the manufacturer shall separately report the make, model, 
model year, and VIN of the medium-heavy vehicle or bus, the incident 
date, the number of deaths, the number of injuries for incidents 
occurring in the United States, the State or foreign country where the 
incident occurred, each system or component of the vehicle that 
allegedly contributed to the incident, and whether the incident 
involved a fire or rollover, coded as follows: 01 steering system, 02 
suspension system, 03 service brake system, hydraulic, 04 service brake 
system, air, 05 parking brake, 06 engine and engine cooling system, 07 
fuel system, gasoline, 08 fuel system, diesel, 09 fuel system, other, 
10 power train, 11 electrical, 12 exterior lighting, 13 visibility, 14 
air bags, 15 seat belts, 16 structure, 17 latch, 18 vehicle speed 
control, 19 tires, 20 wheels, 21 trailer hitch, 22 seats, 23 fire, 24 
rollover, 98 where a system or component not covered by categories 01 
through 22 is specified in the claim or notice, and 99 where no system 
or component of the vehicle is specified in the claim or notice. If an 
incident involves more than one such code, each shall be reported 
separately in the report with a limit of five codes to be included.
    (c) Numbers of property damage claims, consumer complaints, 
warranty claims, and field reports. Separate reports on the numbers of 
those property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, and 
field reports which involve the systems and components that are 
specified in codes 01 through 22 in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, 
or a fire (code 23), or rollover (code 24). Each such report shall 
state, separately by each such code, the number of such property damage 
claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, or field reports, 
respectively, that involves the systems or components or fire or 
rollover indicated by the code. If an underlying property damage claim, 
consumer complaint, warranty claim, or field report involves more than 
one such code, each shall be reported separately in the report with no 
limit on the number of codes to be included. No reporting is necessary 
if the system or component involved is not specified in such codes, and 
the incident did not involve a fire or rollover.
    (d) Copies of field reports. For all medium-heavy vehicles and 
buses less than ten calendar years old as of the beginning of the 
reporting period, a copy of each field report (other than a dealer 
report) involving one or more of the systems or components identified 
in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, or fire, or rollover, containing 
any assessment of an alleged failure, malfunction, lack of durability 
or other performance problem of a motor vehicle or item of motor 
vehicle equipment (including any part thereof) that is originated by an 
employee or representative of the manufacturer and that the 
manufacturer received during a reporting period. These documents shall 
be submitted alphabetically by make, within each make alphabetically by 
model, and within each model chronologically by model year.


Sec. 579.23  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
motorcycles annually.

    For each reporting period, a manufacturer whose aggregate number of 
motorcycles manufactured for sale, offered for sale, imported, or sold, 
in the United States, during the calendar year of the reporting period 
or during either of the prior two calendar years is 500 or more shall 
submit the information described in this section. For paragraphs (a) 
and (c) of this section, the manufacturer shall submit information 
separately with respect to each make, model, and model year of 
motorcycle manufactured during the reporting period and the nine model 
years prior to the earliest model year in the reporting period, 
including models no longer in production.
    (a) Production information. Information that states the 
manufacturer's name, the quarterly reporting period, the make, the 
model, the model year, and the production. The production shall be 
stated as either the cumulative production of the current model year to 
the end of the reporting period, or the total model year production for 
each model year for which production has ceased.
    (b) Information on incidents involving death or injury. For all 
motorcycles less than ten calendar years old as of the beginning of the 
reporting period:
    (1) A report on each incident involving one or more deaths or 
injuries occurring in the United States that is identified in a claim 
against and received by the manufacturer or in a notice received by the 
manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the death or injury 
was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's motorcycle, 
together with each incident involving one or more deaths occurring in a 
foreign country that is identified in a claim against and received by 
the manufacturer involving the manufacturer's motorcycle, if that 
motorcycle is identical or substantially similar to a motorcycle that 
the manufacturer has offered for sale in the United States. The report 
shall be submitted as a report on motorcycles and organized such that 
incidents are reported alphabetically by make, within each make 
alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by model 
year.
    (2) For each incident described in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section, the manufacturer shall separately report the make, model, 
model year, and VIN of the motorcycle, the incident date, the number of 
deaths, the number of injuries for incidents occurring in the United 
States, the State or foreign country where the incident occurred, each 
system or component of the motorcycle that allegedly contributed to the 
incident, and whether the incident involved a fire, coded as follows: 
01 steering, 02 suspension, 03 service brake system, 06 engine and 
engine cooling, 07 fuel system, 10 power train, 11 electrical, 12 
exterior lighting, 16 structure,18 vehicle speed control, 19 tires, 20 
wheels, 23 fire, 98 where a system or component not covered by 
categories 01 through 20 is specified in the claim or notice, and 99 
where no system or component of the vehicle is specified in the claim 
or notice. If an incident involves more than one such code, each shall 
be reported separately in the report with a limit of five codes to be 
included.
    (c) Numbers of property damage claims, consumer complaints, 
warranty claims, and field reports. Separate reports on the numbers of 
those property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, and 
field

[[Page 45880]]

reports which involve the systems and components that are specified in 
codes 01 through 22 in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, or a fire 
(code 23). Each such report shall state, separately by each such code, 
the number of such property damage claims, consumer complaints, 
warranty claims, or field reports, respectively, that involves the 
systems or components or fire indicated by the code. If an underlying 
property damage claim, consumer complaint, warranty claim, or field 
report involves more than one such code, each shall be reported 
separately in the report with no limit on the number of codes to be 
included. No reporting is necessary if the system or component involved 
is not specified in such codes, and the incident did not involve a 
fire.
    (d) Copies of field reports. For all motorcycles less than ten 
years old as of the date of the beginning of the reporting period, a 
copy of each field report (other than a dealer report) involving one or 
more of the components identified in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, 
or fire, containing any assessment of an alleged failure, malfunction, 
lack of durability or other performance problem of a motor vehicle or 
item of motor vehicle equipment (including any part thereof) that is 
originated by an employee or representative of the manufacturer and 
that the manufacturer received during a reporting period. These 
documents shall be submitted alphabetically by make, within each make 
alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by model 
year.


Sec. 579.24  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of 500 or more 
trailers annually.

    For each reporting period, a manufacturer whose aggregate number of 
trailers manufactured for sale, offered for sale, imported, or sold, in 
the United States, during the calendar year of the reporting period or 
during either of the prior two calendar years is 500 or more shall 
submit the information described in this section. For paragraphs (a) 
and (c) of this section, the manufacturer shall submit information with 
respect to each make, model and model year of trailer manufactured 
during the reporting period and the nine model years prior to the 
earliest model year in the reporting period, including models no longer 
in production.
    (a) Production information. Information that states the 
manufacturer's name, the quarterly reporting period, the make, the 
model, the model year, and the production. The production shall be 
stated as either the cumulative production of the current model year to 
the end of the reporting period, or the total model year production for 
each model year for which production has ceased. For each model that is 
manufactured and available with more than one type of service brake 
system (i.e., hydraulic or air), the information required by this 
subsection shall be reported by each of the two brake types. If the 
service brake system in a trailer is not readily characterized as 
either hydraulic or air, the trailer shall be considered to have 
hydraulic service brakes.
    (b) Information on incidents involving death or injury. For all 
trailers less than ten calendar years old as of the beginning of the 
reporting period:
    (1) A report on each incident involving one or more deaths or 
injuries occurring in the United States that is identified in a claim 
against and received by the manufacturer or in a notice received by the 
manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the death or injury 
was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's trailer, together 
with each incident involving one or more deaths occurring in a foreign 
country that is identified in a claim against and received by the 
manufacturer involving the manufacturer's trailer, if that trailer is 
identical or substantially similar to a trailer that the manufacturer 
has offered for sale in the United States. The report shall be 
submitted as a report on trailers and organized such that incidents are 
reported alphabetically by make, with each make alphabetically by 
model, and within each model chronologically by model year.
    (2) For each incident described in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section, the manufacturer shall separately report the make, model, 
model year, and VIN of the trailer, the incident date, the number of 
deaths, the number of injuries for incidents occurring in the United 
States, the State or foreign country where the incident occurred, each 
system or component of the trailer that allegedly contributed to the 
incident, and whether the incident involved a fire, coded as follows: 
02 suspension, 03 service brake system, hydraulic, 04 service brake 
system, air, 05 parking brake, 11 electrical, 12 exterior lighting, 16 
structure, 17 latch, 19 tires, 20 wheels, 21 trailer hitch, 23 fire, 98 
where a system or component not covered by categories 02 through 21 is 
specified in the claim or notice, and 99 where no system or component 
of the trailer is specified in the claim or notice. If an incident 
involves more than one such code, each shall be reported separately in 
the report with a limit of five codes to be included.
    (c) Numbers of property damage claims, consumer complaints, 
warranty claims, and field reports. Separate reports on the numbers of 
those property damage claims, consumer complaints, warranty claims, and 
field reports which involve the systems and components that are 
specified in codes 02 through 21 in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, 
or a fire (code 23). Each such report shall state, separately by each 
such code, the number of such property damage claims, consumer 
complaints, warranty claims, or field reports, respectively, that 
involves the systems or components or fire indicated by the code. If an 
underlying property damage claim, consumer complaint, warranty claim, 
or field report involves more than one such code, each shall be 
reported separately in the report with no limit on the number of codes 
to be included. No reporting is necessary if the system or component 
involved is not specified in such codes, and the incident did not 
involve a fire.
    (d) Copies of field reports. For all trailers less than ten 
calendar years old as of the beginning of the reporting period, a copy 
of each field report (other than a dealer report) involving one or more 
of the systems or components identified in paragraph (b)(2) of this 
section, or fire, containing any assessment of an alleged failure, 
malfunction, lack of durability or other performance problem of a motor 
vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment (including any part thereof) 
that is originated by an employee or representative of the manufacturer 
and that the manufacturer received during a reporting period. These 
documents shall be submitted alphabetically by make, with each make 
alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by model 
year.


Sec. 579.25  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of child 
restraint systems.

    For each reporting period, a manufacturer who has manufactured for 
sale, offered for sale, imported, or sold child restraint systems in 
the United States shall submit the information described in this 
section. For paragraphs (a) and (c) of this section, the manufacturer 
shall submit information separately with respect to each make, model, 
and production year of child restraint system manufactured during the 
reporting period and the four production years prior to the earliest 
production year in the reporting period, including models no longer in 
production.
    (a) Production information. Information that states the 
manufacturer's name, the quarterly

[[Page 45881]]

reporting period, the make, the model, the production year, and the 
production. The production shall be stated as either the cumulative 
production of the current model year to the end of the reporting 
period, or the total calendar year production for each calendar year 
for which production has ceased.
    (b) Information on incidents involving death or injury. For all 
child restraint systems less than five calendar years old as of the 
beginning of the reporting period:
    (1) A report on each incident involving one or more deaths or 
injuries occurring in the United States that is identified in a claim 
against and received by the manufacturer or in a notice received by the 
manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the death or injury 
was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's child restraint 
system, together with each incident involving one or more deaths 
occurring in a foreign country that is identified in a claim against 
and received by the manufacturer involving the manufacturer's child 
restraint system, if the child restraint system is identical or 
substantially similar to a child restraint system that the manufacturer 
has offered for sale in the United States. The report shall be 
submitted as a report on child restraint systems and organized such 
that incidents are reported alphabetically by make, within each make 
alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by 
production year.
    (2) For each such incident described in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section, the manufacturer shall separately report the make, model, and 
production year of the child restraint system, the incident date, the 
number of deaths, the number of injuries for incidents occurring in the 
United States, the State or foreign country where the incident 
occurred, and each system or component of the child restraint system 
that allegedly contributed to the incident, coded as follows: 51 buckle 
and restraint harness, 52 seat shell, 53 handle, 54 base, 98 where a 
system or component not covered by categories 51 through 54 is 
specified in the claim or notice, and 99 where no system or component 
of the child restraint system is specified in the claim or notice. If 
an incident involves more than one such code, each shall be reported 
separately in the report.
    (c) Numbers of consumer complaints and warranty claims, and field 
reports. Separate reports on the numbers of those consumer complaints 
and warranty claims, and field reports, which involve the systems and 
components that are specified in codes 51 through 54 in paragraph 
(b)(2) of this section. Each such report shall state, separately by 
each such code, the number of such consumer complaints and warranty 
claims, or field reports, respectively, that involves the systems or 
components indicated by the code. If an underlying consumer complaint 
and warranty claim, or field report, involves more than one such code, 
each shall be counted separately in the report with no limit on the 
number of codes to be included. No reporting is necessary if the system 
or component involved is not specified in such codes.
    (d) Copies of field reports. For all child restraint systems less 
than five years old as of the beginning of the reporting period, a copy 
of each field report (other than a dealer field report) involving one 
or more of the systems or components identified in paragraph (b)(2) of 
this section, containing any assessment of an alleged failure, 
malfunction, lack of durability or other performance problem of the 
child restraint system (including any part thereof) that is originated 
by an employee or representative of the manufacturer and that the 
manufacturer received during the reporting period. These documents 
shall be submitted alphabetically by make, within each make 
alphabetically by model, and within each model chronologically by 
production year.


Sec. 579.26  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of tires.

    For each reporting period, a manufacturer (including a brand name 
owner) who has manufactured for sale, offered for sale, imported, or 
sold tires in the United States shall submit the information described 
in this section. For paragraphs (a) and (c) of this section, the 
manufacturer shall submit information separately with respect to each 
tire line, size, SKU, plant where manufactured, and model year of tire 
manufactured during the reporting period and the four calendar years 
prior to the earliest model year in the reporting period including tire 
lines no longer in production. For tires that are limited production 
tires or are otherwise exempted from the Uniform Tire Quality Grading 
Standards by Sec. 575.104(c)(1) of this chapter, or are not passenger 
car tires, light truck tires, or motorcycle tires, the manufacturer 
need report only information on incidents involving a death, as 
specified in paragraph (b) of this section.
    (a) Production information. Information that states the 
manufacturer's name, the quarterly reporting period, the tire line, the 
tire size, the tire type code, the SKU, the plant where manufactured, 
whether the tire is approved for use as original equipment on a motor 
vehicle, if so, the make, model, and model year of each vehicle for 
which it is approved, the production year, the cumulative warranty 
production, and the cumulative total production through the end of the 
reporting period.
    (b) Information on incidents involving death or injury. (1) A 
report on each incident involving one or more deaths or injuries 
occurring in the United States that is identified in a claim against 
and received by the manufacturer or in a notice received by the 
manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that the death or injury 
was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's tire, together 
with each incident involving one or more deaths occurring in a foreign 
country that is identified in a claim against and received by the 
manufacturer involving the manufacturer's tire, if that tire is 
identical or substantially similar to a tire that the manufacturer has 
offered for sale in the United States. The report shall be submitted as 
a report on tires and organized such that incidents are reported 
alphabetically by tire line, within each tire line by tire size, and 
within each tire size chronologically by production year.
    (2) For each such incident described in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section, the manufacturer shall separately report the tire line, size, 
and production year of the tire, the TIN, the incident date, the number 
of deaths, the number of injuries for incidents occurring in the United 
States, the State or foreign country where the incident occurred, the 
make, model, and model year of the vehicle on which the tire was 
installed, and each component of the tire that allegedly contributed to 
the incident, coded as follows: 71 tread, 72 sidewall, 73 bead, 98 
where a component not covered by categories 71 through 73 is specified 
in the claim or notice, and 99 where no component of the tire is 
specified in the claim or notice. If an incident involves more than one 
such code, each shall be reported separately in the report.
    (c) Numbers of property damage claims and warranty adjustments. 
Separate reports on the numbers of those property damage claims and 
warranty adjustments which involve the components that are specified in 
codes 71 through 73, and 98, in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. Each 
such report shall state, separately by each such code, the numbers of 
such property damage claims and warranty adjustments, respectively, 
that involve the components indicated by the code.

[[Page 45882]]

If an underlying property damage claim or warranty adjustment involves 
more than one such code, each shall be reported separately in the 
report with no limit on the number of codes to be included. No 
reporting is necessary if the system or component involved is not 
specified in such codes.
    (d) Common green tire reporting. With each quarterly report, each 
manufacturer of tires shall provide NHTSA with a list of common green 
tires. For each specific common green tire grouping, the list shall 
provide all relevant tire lines, tire type codes, SKU numbers, plant 
where manufactured, brand names, and brand name owners.


Sec. 579.27  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of fewer than 500 
vehicles annually, for manufacturers of original equipment, and for 
manufacturers of replacement equipment other than child restraint 
systems and tires.

    (a) Applicability. This section applies to all manufacturers of 
motor vehicles that are not required to file a report pursuant to 
Secs. 579.21 through 579.24 of this part, to all manufacturers of 
original equipment, to all manufacturers of replacement equipment other 
than manufacturers of tires and child restraint systems, and to 
registered importers registered under 49 U.S.C. 30141(c).
    (b) Information on incidents involving deaths. For each reporting 
period, a manufacturer to which this section applies shall submit a 
report, pertaining to vehicles and/or equipment manufactured or sold 
during the calendar year of the reporting period and the nine calendar 
years prior to the reporting period (four calendar years for 
equipment), including models no longer in production, on each incident 
involving one or more deaths occurring in the United States that is 
identified in a claim against and received by the manufacturer or in a 
notice received by the manufacturer which notice alleges or proves that 
the death was caused by a possible defect in the manufacturer's vehicle 
or equipment, together with each incident involving one or more deaths 
occurring in a foreign country that is identified in a claim against 
and received by the manufacturer involving the manufacturer's vehicle 
or equipment, if it is identical or substantially similar to a vehicle 
or item of equipment that the manufacturer has offered for sale in the 
United States. The report shall be organized such that incidents are 
reported alphabetically by make, within each make alphabetically by 
model, and within each model chronologically by model year.
    (c) For each incident described in paragraph (b) of this section, 
the manufacturer shall separately report the make, model, and model 
year of the vehicle or equipment, the VIN (for vehicles only), the 
incident date, the number of deaths, the number of injuries for 
incidents occurring in the United States, the State or foreign country 
where the incident occurred, each system or component of the vehicle or 
equipment that allegedly contributed to the incident, and whether the 
incident involved a fire or rollover, as follows:
    (1) For light vehicles, the system or component involved, and the 
existence of a fire or rollover, shall be identified and coded as 
specified in Sec. 579.21(b)(2) of this part.
    (2) For medium-heavy vehicles and buses, the system or component 
involved, and the existence of a fire or rollover, shall be identified 
and coded as specified in Sec. 579.22(b)(2) of this part.
    (3) For motorcycles, the system or component involved, and the 
existence of a fire, shall be identified and coded as specified in 
Sec. 579.23(b)(2) of this part.
    (4) For trailers, the system or component involved, and the 
existence of a fire, shall be identified and coded as specified in 
Sec. 579.24(b)(2) of this part.
    (5) For original and replacement equipment, a written 
identification of each component of the equipment that was allegedly 
involved, and whether there was a fire, in the manufacturer's own 
words.


Sec. 579.28  Due date of reports and other miscellaneous provisions.

    (a) Initial submission of reports. The first calendar quarter for 
which reports are required under Secs. 579.21 through 579.27 of this 
part is the second calendar quarter of 2003.
    (b) Due date of reports. Each manufacturer of motor vehicles and 
motor vehicle equipment shall submit each report that is required by 
this subpart not later than 30 days after the last day of the reporting 
period. Notwithstanding the prior sentence, the due date for reports 
covering all calendar quarters in 2003 shall be 60 days after the last 
day of the reporting period.
    (c) One-time reporting of historical information. No later than 
September 30, 2003, each manufacturer covered by Secs. 579.21 through 
579.26 of this part shall file separate reports, providing information 
on the numbers of warranty claims or warranty adjustments and field 
reports that it received in each calendar quarter from April 1, 2000, 
to March 31, 2003, for vehicles manufactured in model years 1994 
through 2003 (including any vehicle designated as a 2004 model), for 
child restraint systems manufactured on or after April 1, 1998, and for 
tires manufactured on or after April 1, 1998. Each report shall include 
production data, as specified in paragraph (a) of Secs. 579.21 through 
579.26 of this part and shall identify the alleged system or component 
covered by warranty claim, warranty adjustment, or field report, as 
specified in paragraph (c) of Secs. 579.21 through 579.26 of this part.
    (d) Minimal specificity. A claim or notice involving death, a claim 
or notice involving injury, a claim involving property damage, a 
consumer complaint, a warranty claim or warranty adjustment, or a field 
report need not be reported if it does not identify the vehicle or 
equipment with minimal specificity. If a manufacturer initially 
receives a claim, notice, complaint, warranty claim, warranty 
adjustment, or field report in which the vehicle or equipment is not 
identified with minimal specificity and subsequently obtains 
information that provides the requisite information needed to identify 
the product with minimal specificity, the claim, etc. shall be deemed 
to have been received when the additional information is received. If a 
manufacturer receives a claim or notice involving death or injury in 
which the vehicle or equipment is not identified with minimal 
specificity and the matter is being handled by legal counsel retained 
by the manufacturer, the manufacturer shall attempt to obtain the 
missing minimal specificity information from such counsel.
    (e) Claims received by registered agents. A claim received by any 
registered agent of a manufacturer under the laws of any State, or the 
agent that any manufacturer offering motor vehicles or motor vehicle 
equipment for import has designated pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30164(a), 
shall be deemed received by the manufacturer.
    (f) Updating of information required in reports. (1) Except as 
specified in this subsection, a manufacturer need not update its 
reports under this subpart.
    (2) With respect to each report of an incident submitted under 
paragraph (b) of Secs. 579.21 through 579.26 of this part:
    (i) If a vehicle manufacturer is not aware of the VIN, or a tire 
manufacturer is not aware of the TIN, at the time the incident is 
initially reported, the manufacturer shall submit an updated report of 
such incident in its report covering the reporting period in which the 
VIN or TIN is identified.
    (ii) If a manufacturer indicated code 99 in its report because a 
system or component had not been identified in

[[Page 45883]]

the claim or notice that led to the report, and the manufacturer 
becomes aware during a subsequent calendar quarter that one or more of 
the specified systems or components allegedly contributed to the 
incident, the manufacturer shall submit an updated report of such 
incident in its report covering the reporting period in which the 
involved specified system(s) or component(s) is (are) identified.
    (iii) If one or more systems or components is identified in a 
manufacturer's report of an incident, the manufacturer need not submit 
an updated report to reflect additional systems or components allegedly 
involved in the incident that it becomes aware of in a subsequent 
reporting period.
    (iv) If the report is of an incident involving an injury and an 
injured person dies after a manufacturer has reported the injury to 
NHTSA, the manufacturer need not submit an updated report to NHTSA 
reflecting that death.
    (g) When a report involving a death is not required. A report on 
incident(s) involving one or more deaths occurring in a foreign country 
that is identified in claim(s) against a manufacturer of motor vehicles 
or motor vehicle equipment involving a vehicle or equipment that is 
identical or substantially similar to equipment that the manufacturer 
has offered for sale in the United States need not be furnished if the 
claim specifically alleges that the death was caused by a possible 
defect in a component other than one that is common to the vehicle or 
equipment that the manufacturer has offered for sale in the United 
States.
    (h) Reporting on behalf of other manufacturers. Whenever a 
fabricating manufacturer or importer submits a report on behalf of one 
or more other manufacturers (including a brand name owner), as 
authorized under Sec. 579.3(b) of this part, the submitting 
manufacturer must identify each such other manufacturer. Whenever a 
brand name owner submits a report on its own behalf, it must identify 
the fabricating manufacturer of each separate product on which it is 
reporting.
    (i) Abbreviations. Whenever a manufacturer is required to identify 
a State in which an incident occurred, the manufacturer shall use the 
two-letter abbreviations established by the United States Postal 
Service (e.g., AZ for Arizona). Whenever a manufacturer is required to 
identify a foreign country in which an incident occurred, the 
manufacturer shall use the English-language name of the country in non-
abbreviated form.
    (j) Claims of confidentiality. If a manufacturer claims that any of 
the information, data, or documents that it submits is entitled to 
confidential treatment, it must make such claim in accordance with part 
512 of this chapter.
    (k) Additional related information that NHTSA may request. In 
addition to information required periodically under this subpart, NHTSA 
may request other information that may help identify a defect related 
to motor vehicle safety.
    (l) Use of the plural. As used in this part, the plural includes 
the singular and the singular includes the plural to bring within the 
scope of reporting that which might otherwise be construed to be 
without the scope.


Sec. 579.29  Manner of reporting.

    (a) Submission of reports. (1) Except as provided in this 
paragraph, each report required under paragraphs (a) through (c) of 
Secs. 579.21 through 579.26 of this part must be submitted to NHTSA's 
early warning data repository identified on NHTSA's Internet homepage 
(www.nhtsa.dot.gov). A manufacturer must use templates provided at the 
early warning website, also identified on NHTSA's homepage, for 
submitting reports. For data files smaller than the size limit of the 
Internet e-mail server of the Department of Transportation, a 
manufacturer may submit a report as an attachment to an e-mail message 
to odi.ewr@nhtsa.dot.gov, using the same templates.
    (2) Each report required under Sec. 579.27 of this part may be 
submitted to NHTSA's early warning data repository as specified in 
paragraph (a)(1) of this section or by manually filling out an 
interactive form on NHTSA's early warning website.
    (b) Submission of documents. A copy of each document required under 
paragraph (d) of Secs. 579.21 through 579.26 of this part may be 
submitted in digital form using a graphic compression protocol, 
approved by NHTSA, to the NHTSA data repository, or as an attachment to 
an e-mail message, as specified in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. 
Any digital image provided by a manufacturer shall be not less than 200 
or more than 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. Such documents may 
also be submitted in paper form.
    (c) Designation of manufacturer contacts. Not later than 30 days 
prior to the date of its first quarterly submission, each manufacturer 
must provide the names, office telephone numbers, postal and street 
mailing addresses, and electronic mail addresses of two employees (one 
primary and one back-up) whom NHTSA may contact for resolving issues 
that may arise concerning the submission of information and documents 
required by this part.
    (d) Manufacturer reporting identification and password. Not later 
than 30 days prior to the date of its first quarterly submission, each 
manufacturer must request a manufacturer identification number and a 
password.
    (e) Graphic compression protocol. Not later than 30 days prior to 
the date of its first quarterly submission, each manufacturer which 
wishes to submit a copy of a document in digital form, as provided in 
paragraph (b) of this section, must obtain approval from NHTSA for the 
use of such protocol.
    (f) Information and requests submitted under paragraphs (c), (d), 
and (e) of this section shall be provided in writing to the Director, 
Office of Defects Investigation, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20590.

    Issued on: July 3, 2002.
Jeffrey W. Runge,
Administrator
[FR Doc. 02-17103 Filed 7-3-02; 4:21 pm]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-U