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Interpretation ID: 0566

Mr. Gerard Bonvin
Auto Cheyenne USA Inc.
6611 1/2 West 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Dear Mr. Bonvin:

This is in reply to your letter of December 15, 1994, with respect to the relationship of certain DOT regulations to the Cheyenne, a small front-wheel drive utility vehicle that you wish to import and distribute in the United States.

You have asked the following questions:

"What are the procedure to follow in order to be categorize Small Volume manufacturer?"

Your question assumes that we have a category of "small volume manufacturer." We do not, and there is no exclusion from the Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) based upon the volume produced by the manufacturer. All motor vehicles must comply with all FMVSS, unless the agency has exempted them from one or more of the standards. We do recognize limited production volume in the regulation under which a manufacturer who produces less than 10,000 motor vehicles of all types may apply for a temporary exemption on the basis that compliance would cause it substantial economic hardship, and must provide production information as part of its application.

"Is there really a big difference on the test in order to certified between small volume and over 10000 vehicles?"

As indicated above, if a manufacturer produces less than 10,000 vehicles, that fact is relevant only if that manufacturer wishes to file a hardship exemption application. If a small volume manufacturer has not been exempted, it must comply with the same requirements as apply to those whose yearly production exceeds 10,000.

"Is there any difference between two seaters or four seaters on crash test?"

That is a question to be answered by a vehicle manufacturer. If a four-seater is heavier than a two- seater, the difference

in weight could make a difference in whether a vehicle with a borderline design passes or fails a crash test.

"Is there a rear crash impact?"

Yes. FMVSS No. 301 Fuel System Integrity specifies a 30 m.p.h. moving barrier rear impact test.

"Do we need Air Bags if we have Seat belts?"

Currently, vehicles like the Cheyenne are not required to have air bags. However, as explained below, air bags are one means of complying with a the automatic protection requirement which is being phased in for vehicles like the Cheyenne, and eventually the Cheyenne will be required to have air bags for both the driver and right front passenger.

Generally, Jeep-type vehicles are considered to be "multipurpose passenger vehicles" (MPVs). Based on your description, we also assume that the Cheyenne will have a GVWR of 8,500 pounds or less. A requirement in FMVSS No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, which is being phased in requires a specified percentage (varying by year) of each manufacturer's light trucks (a category which includes MPVs with a GVWR of 8,500 pounds or less) manufactured on or after September 1, 1994 to be equipped with automatic crash protection. The two types of automatic crash protection currently offered are automatic safety belts and air bags.

A recent amendment of FMVSS No. 208 will require at least 80 percent of each manufacturer's light trucks manufactured on or after September 1, 1997 and before September 1, 1998 to be equipped with an air bag and a manual lap/shoulder belt at the driver's and right front passenger's seating positions. All light trucks manufactured on or after September 1, 1998 must be equipped with an air bag and a manual lap/shoulder belt at these seating positions.

"Do we need a buzzer for the seat belt?"

Yes, an audible warning indicator is required.

"Is the dashboard need to be padded?"

We cannot answer your question. That decision is to be made by the manufacturer if its tests show that the dashboard is within the head impact area and that some type of padding is necessary to meet FMVSS No. 201 Occupant Protection in Interior Impact. The FMVSS are performance standards and we do not impose design restrictions on the manufacturer, such as requiring that the dashboard be padded.

"Is there any specific ways on how to install the windshield?"

No, because that would be design restrictive and, as noted above, the FMVSS are performance standards. The performance requirement for windshields is in FMVSS No. 212 Windshield Retention which specifies what the windshield mounting must do in a 30 mph frontal barrier crash. However, if the MPV is an open vehicle with a fold-down windshield, FMVSS No. 212 does not apply to it.

"What is the surface of the windshield that need to wiped? As far as Windshield Wipers, how many cycles and how many different speed?"

You will find the answers to your questions in FMVSS No. 104 Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems. For a copy of these and all our regulations, you should have a copy of "Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 400-999". This is available from the U.S. Government Bookstore at ARCO Plaza, C-Level, 505 South Flower Street, Los Angeles.


Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel

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