Kenneth M. Bush, Regulations Manager
American Suzuki Motor Corporation
3251 E. Imperial Highway
P.O. Box 1100
Brea, CA 92822-1100
Dear Mr. Bush:
This responds to your letter asking about the procedures set forth in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard(FMVSS) No. 214, "Side Impact Protection," for positioning a test dummy in the rear seat of vehicles. Different positioning procedures are specified in S7.1.3 of FMVSS No. 214 for bench seats and for bucket or contoured seats. You ask whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would consider two particular vehicle rear seats as bench seats or as bucket or contoured seats. Our answer is that we would consider both as bench seats.
The first rear seat you ask about is shown in photograph 1 of your letter. You describe the seat as: "a bench-type seat with split folding seatbacks, but without fore/aft seat adjustment. The seat has three seating positions with stitching and contours that outline two rear outboard passenger seating positions".
The second seat, shown in photograph 2 of your letter, is "the rear seat of a sport-utility vehicle". This seat is also a bench-type seat that has three seating positions. The seat is split 60%/40%, and the two sections have independent fore/aft and seatback adjustments".
FMVSS No. 214 does not define the terms "bench seats," "bucket seats" or "contoured seats". However, seats are commonly considered bench seats when their separate sections are side-by-side, as shown in your photographs, even when they are separately adjustable. While the seat in photograph 1 is slightly contoured, we do not believe that it is contoured to a degree that it should be regarded as a contoured seat. Since we regard the seat you ask about as a bench seat, the dummy positioning procedures specified in S7.1.3(a) would apply.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, please contact Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.