Mr. Mike Pruzin
Hitachi Cable Indiana, Inc.
5300 Grant Line Road
New Albany, IN 47150
Dear Mr. Pruzin:
This responds to your request for an interpretation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 106, Brake Hoses (49 CFR 571.106). You asked whether a change in the company manufacturing brake hoses necessitates a change in the manufacturer designation on the hose. As discussed below, under certain circumstances, brake hose may be labeled with the designation of a company which is the sponsor/manufacturer of the hose rather than the company which fabricates it.
You informed us that Hitachi Cable Limited (HCL), a Japanese company, previously manufactured brake hose that it labeled HCL and supplied it to your company, Hitachi Cable Indiana, Inc. HCL subsequently entered into a licensing agreement with LG Cable, a Korean company, to, as you state: manufacture our hose using our designs and material specs. You wish to know if LG Cable can label the hose it manufactures with the same designation (HCL) used by HCL on the hose it manufactured, instead of labeling the hose with its own designation, LGC.
Although you did not specify the brake hose type at issue, we assume that it is hydraulic brake hose. S5.2.2 of FMVSS No. 106 requires that each hydraulic brake hose be labeled, or cut from bulk hose that is labeled, with specified information. The specified information includes, among other things, a designation that identifies the manufacturer of the hose.
The term "manufacturer" is defined by statute as "a person manufacturing or assembling motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment; or importing motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment for resale." 49 U.S.C. 30102. On several occasions, in the context of considering whether a particular entity may be considered the manufacturer of a motor vehicle, we have interpreted the term manufacturer broadly.
In the 1985 notice of proposed rulemaking for the phase-in of the new automatic restraint requirements of FMVSS No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, the agency acknowledged that there were instances in which a vehicle arguably could have more than one manufacturer. See 50 Fed. Reg. 14589, 14596 (April 12, 1985). The example we gave in explaining our position was a company, which we refer to as a "sponsor," that contracts with another manufacturer to produce a design exclusively for the sponsor. However, the agency went on to state, "the mere purchase of vehicles for resale by a company which is also a manufacturer of motor vehicles does not make the purchaser the manufacturer of those vehicles." Other examples are discussed in a December 10, 1992 letter to Erika Z. Jones, Esq. A copy of this letter is enclosed.
We believe that the rationale of our interpretations regarding motor vehicle manufacturers is applicable to the situation you describe regarding motor vehicle equipment manufacturers. In particular, given the facts you provide, HCL may be considered the manufacturer of the brake hose at issue. HCL is not merely purchasing brake hose from LG Cable, but has entered into a licensing agreement with that company to manufacture hose using HCLs designs and material specs. Because HCL may be considered the sponsor/manufacturer of the brake hose, and assuming HCL has agreed to its being so designated, the hose may be labeled with HCLs designation.
We note that, to the extent HCL provides for the hose to be labeled with its designation, it would be accepting responsibility as the manufacturer of the hose for purposes of NHTSAs regulations. This would include the responsibility to conduct any recall that may become necessary with regard to the hose. LG Cable would also be responsible as it would also be a manufacturer of the hose, since it is the entity that actually fabricates the hose.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions, please contact Dorothy Nakama at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke
Cc: NCC-110 Subj/Chron, Docket Std. 106
cc: NCC-112 Subj/chron, DN NVS-200, NVS-100
Interps: Std. No. 106, Redbook (2)