Mr. Robert Strassburger
Vice President Safety and Harmonization
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
1401 Eye Street, NW, Suite 900
Dear Mr. Strassburger:
This responds to your request of August 26, 2004 that we extend the date at which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will begin enforcing a May 6, 2003 interpretation letter, addressed to Jaguar Cars, on the meaning of "daylight opening" in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 104, Windshield wiping and washing systems. As explained below, we have decided to grant your request.
In our letter to you of March 31, 2004, in which we denied your request for reconsideration of the May 6, 2003, interpretation, we acknowledged that there has been some confusion in industry regarding the proper interpretation of the term "daylight opening". We stated that we would begin enforcing FMVSS No. 104 consistent with our May 6, 2003 interpretation letter beginning with motor vehicles manufactured on September 1, 2005.
In your letter of August 26, 2004, you stated that "substantial work" will be needed on some vehicle models to meet the May 6, 2003 interpretation letter. You stated that some wiper systems may have to be redesigned to increase the wiped area and that windshield redesign may be required. You indicated "substantial costs can be avoided" if, for those models that need reworking, the wiper system and windshield redesigns can be accomplished at the same time as scheduled platform changes. You asked that the agency provide manufacturers until September 1, 2007, to permit an orderly transition to designs that comply with the interpretation.
Two vehicle manufacturers subsequently submitted additional information in support of your organizations request. They focused on the work that will be needed for some vehicle models to meet FMVSS No. 104s requirement that windshield wiping systems wipe at least 94% of "Area B".
One manufacturer indicated that, taking account of the agencys May 6, 2003 interpretation letter, seven of its vehicles will not meet the 94% requirement. The other manufacturer indicated that five of its vehicles will be below 94% (but at or above 93.2%) for the wiped Area B. That manufacturer stated that it is not easy to increase the 93.2% area because the wiped areas have already been optimized to maximize the wiped surfaces. Even the small increases required to bring the wiped Area B to meet 94% cannot be done with simple changes in the wiper system. The manufacturer stated that some vehicles will require a complete redesign of the wiper geometry, including changes to the sheet metal stampings. Such changes are normally only done when a complete redesign of a model is scheduled because changes to the stamping tools are always expensive.
After carefully considering your request and the additional information provided by the two manufacturers, and to minimize the costs of compliance, we agree to provide the requested additional time. While we believe the original date of September 1, 2005 was sufficient to enable manufacturers to make simple changes in wiper systems, we are persuaded that more significant design changes will be needed for a number of vehicles. Therefore, we will begin enforcing FMVSS No. 104 consistent with our May 6, 2003 interpretation letter beginning with motor vehicles manufactured on September 1, 2007.
If you have any further questions, please contact Ms. Dorothy Nakama at this address or at (202) 366-2992.