Mr. Guy Dorleans
International & Regulatory Affairs
Valeo Lighting Systems
34 rue Saint-Andr
93 012 Bobigny Cedex -- France
Dear Mr. Dorleans:
This responds to your letter requesting clarification regarding how Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment, applies to your product. Specifically, your company is designing a motorcycle headlighting system consisting of two headlamps, one of which provides an upper beam and one of which provides either an upper beam or a lower beam by means of mechanization; each headlamp would contain a single-filament bulb. According to your planned design, the lamps would either be located on the vertical centerline with the upper beam no higher than the mechanized high/low beam, or horizontally disposed about the vertical centerline and mounted at the same height.
Because this system is not of a type described under paragraph S126.96.36.199 of the standard, which specifies the location requirements for motorcycle headlamps, your letter seeks confirmation of three assumptions: (1) Whether a motorcycle headlamp system, which consists of one upper beam headlamp and another headlamp which provides either an upper beam or a lower beam by means of a mechanization, is permissible under FMVSS No. 108; (2) If such a system is permissible, whether the upper/lower beam headlamp must be mounted on the left side, the right side, or at the choice of the manufacturer; and (3) When the headlamp system is operated in upper beam mode, whether the photometric beam pattern in Figure 32 of the standard must be met by the two light sources simultaneously energized. As discussed below, based on the information you have provided to the agency and our analysis, we do not believe that your headlighting system would meet the requirements of Standard No. 108. Your second and third questions assume that the design you are considering would be permissible under FMVSS No. 108. Since the design would not be permitted, it is unnecessary to address those questions.
By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue FMVSSs that set performance requirements for new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment (see 49 U.S.C. 30111 and 49 CFR Part 571). NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, manufacturers are required to self-certify that their products conform to all applicable safety standards that are in effect on the date of manufacture, before they can be offered for sale (see 49 U.S.C. 30115 and 49 CFR Part 567). NHTSA selects a sampling of new vehicles and equipment each year to determine their compliance with applicable FMVSSs. If our testing or examination reveals an apparent noncompliance, we may require the manufacturer to remedy the noncompliance, and may initiate an enforcement proceeding if necessary to ensure that the manufacturer takes appropriate action.
Turning to the specific issues raised by your letter, FMVSS No. 108 sets forth headlighting requirements for motorcycles under paragraph S7.9, Motorcycles. Under paragraph S7.9.2, a motorcycle manufactured on or after September 1, 2000, must be equipped with either:
(a) A headlighting system designed to conform to SAE Standard J584 Motorcycle Headlamps April 1964 with the photometric specifications of Figure 32 and the upper beam aimability specifications of paragraph S7.9.3; or
(b) A headlighting system that conforms to S7.9.1(b). [S7.9.1(b) provides: One half of any headlighting system specified in S7.1 through S7.6 which provides both a full upper beam and full lower beam. Where more than one lamp must be used, the lamps shall be mounted vertically, with the lower beam as high as practicable.]
Of particular relevance here, Standard No. 108 also specifies requirements for how the headlighting system is to be positioned on the front of the motorcycle. Specifically, paragraph S188.8.131.52 provides:
(a) If the system consists of a single headlamp, it shall be mounted on the vertical centerline of the motorcycle. If the headlamp contains more than one light source, each light source shall be mounted on the vertical centerline with the upper beam no higher than the lower beam, or horizontally disposed about the vertical centerline and mounted at the same height. If the light sources are horizontally disposed about the vertical centerline, the distance between the closest edges of the effective projected luminous lens area in front of the light sources shall not be greater than 200 mm (8 in.).
(b) If the system consists of two headlamps, each of which provides both an upper and lower beam, the headlamps shall be mounted either at the same height and symmetrically disposed about the vertical centerline or mounted on the vertical centerline. If the headlamps are horizontally disposed about the vertical centerline, the distance between the closest edges of their effective projected luminous lens areas shall not be greater than 200 mm (8 in.).
(c) If the system consists of two headlamps, one of which provides an upper beam and one of which provides the lower beam, the headlamps shall be located on the vertical centerline with the upper beam no higher than the lower beam, or horizontally disposed about the vertical centerline and mounted at the same height. If the headlamps are horizontally disposed about the vertical centerline, the distance between the closest edges of their effective projected luminous lens areas shall not be greater than 200 mm (8 in.).
We now turn to our response to the question raised in your letter, as restated below.
Is a motorcycle headlamp system, which consists of one upper beam headlamp and another headlamp which provides either an upper beam or a lower beam by means of a mechanization, permissible under FMVSS No. 108?
The type of two headlamp system you are considering does not meet the specifications for permissible systems under paragraphs S184.108.40.206(a)-(c). Specifically, the standard permits: (1) a single headlamp; (2) a two headlamp system, with each headlamp providing both an upper beam and a lower beam, and (3) a two headlamp system, with one headlamp providing an upper beam and the other headlamp providing a lower beam. In contrast, your system would provide one headlamp with a dedicated upper beam and a second headlamp that can alternately provide either a lower beam or an upper beam. The standard is clear as to the types of systems which may be installed in compliance with the standard. Therefore, your system would not comply with FMVSS No. 108.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Ari Scott of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke