Mr. Patrick W. Reynolds
815 Florida Avenue
Hagerstown, MD 21740
Dear Mr. Reynolds:
This is in response to your fax of January 11, 2007, and your conversations with George Stevens in our Office of Vehicle Safety Compliances Import and Certification Division and Otto Matheke in this office, requesting an interpretation of any regulations of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning your manufacture of a motorcycle. You explained in your letter that you are attempting to have a vehicle identification number (VIN) assigned from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to a custom-made motorcycle which you built. The MVA has informed you that you need to submit a manufacturers statement of origin for the motor cycle frame guaranteeing structural stability of the motorcycle frame, and that you need to be listed with NHTSA as per USDOT. You ask what NHTSA regulations apply to the manufacture of motorcycle frames.
By way of background, NHTSA is authorized to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) that set performance requirements for new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment (see 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act). This agency does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, nor do we endorse any commercial products. Instead, manufacturers are required to certify that their vehicles and equipment meet applicable standards. They must also ensure that their vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment are free of safety-related defects.
There currently is no Federal motor vehicle safety standard that directly applies to a motorcycle frame. While there are FMVSSs that apply to completed motorcycles, NHTSA does not guarantee the structural stability of motorcycle frames, nor do we directly regulate the physical manufacturing of motorcycle frames.
NHTSA does require manufacturers of motor vehicles to identify themselves to the agency by way of 49 CFR Part 566, Manufacturer Identification. A copy of Part 566 is enclosed.
In addition, the States regulate the use of vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment. As you already know, Maryland has its own regulations on this subject, and you are of course bound by them as well.
I am also enclosing a copy of our July 2006 publication, Information for New Manufacturers of Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment. I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Rebecca Schade of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke