IAD West Coast, Inc.
5761 McFadden Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Dear Mr. Brooks:
This replies to your letter of November 1, 1994, to John Womack, former Acting Chief Counsel. IAD West Coast ("IAD") is converting a Subaru panel van from internal combustion to electric drive. The vehicle is currently a prototype but "will be modified in the state of California, to OEM build standards." You have asked for help "with the definition of crash testing for front and side impact for the vehicle for current and future production, also with the requirement for dual air bags if necessary."
Because we did not understand what you meant by "definition", Taylor Vinson of this Office spoke with you on January 24, 1995. He learned that IAD is engineering the prototype for production by another company, and that your question related to the extent of crash testing that is required before production. He then explained to you that there is no legal requirement that prototype vehicles be crashed, but that production vehicles must conform with the performance requirements of standards with crash demonstration procedures, and that the manufacturer's certification of compliance may be based upon good faith surrogates to crash testing such as computer simulation, engineering studies, and mathematical calculations. The Department of Transportation, however, tests in the manner specified in a standard, and if there is a test failure, will ask the manufacturer to supply the data upon which it based its certification.
Your letter also asks about "the requirement for dual air bags if necessary in the future." Manufacturers of light trucks will be required to install dual air bags in not less than 80% of vehicles produced between September 1, 1997, and September 1, 1998, and in 100% of production from September 1, 1998, on.
Finally, you have asked whether we have information on approach and departure angles. These are not part of the FMVSS, and are established by the manufacturer in designing a vehicle.
I hope that this answers your questions.
Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel ref:208 d:3/2/95