Mr. Gianni Martini
Superauto F.lli Biondi Srl, Homologation Department
Via Ponte a Giogoli 21
50019 Sesto F.no (FI)
Dear Mr. Martini:
This responds to your letter asking about the obligations of a foreign motorcycle windshield manufacturer under the requirements of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). I appreciate this opportunity to respond.
Your letter explains that you purchase plane sheets of a polycarbonate material produced by General Electric (GE), then thermoform the material and sell the pieces in Italy to a motorcycle manufacturer which exports motorcycles to the United States. We assume you mean that you purchase large sheets of GE polycarbonate and then use heat to form or mold the polycarbonate into motorcycle windshields which you sell to your customer.
By way of background information, 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. NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, nor do we issue permits. Instead, it is the responsibility of manufacturers to certify that their products conform to all applicable FMVSSs before they can be offered for sale. NHTSA enforces compliance with the standards by purchasing and testing vehicles and regulated equipment, and we also investigate safety-related defects. For your information, we are enclosing a fact sheet entitled, Information for New Manufacturers of Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment, which directs you to the FMVSSs and regulations.
Pursuant to NHTSAs statutory authority, we established FMVSS No. 205, Glazing Materials, which specifies strength and light transmittance performance requirements for various types of glazing used in motor vehicles, including motorcycle windshields (copy enclosed). FMVSS No. 205 incorporates by reference American National Standard for Safety Glazing Materials for
Glazing Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment Operating on Land Highways-Safety Standard ANSI/SAE Z26.1-1996 (ANSI Z26.1). FMVSS No. 205 and ANSI Z26.1 specify performance requirements for various types of glazing (called Items), and specify the locations in vehicles in which each item of glazing may be used.
Section S6 of FMVSS No. 205 establishes marking and certification requirements for manufacturers and distributors of glazing material. Different marking and certification requirements apply depending on whether a person is a prime glazing manufacturer, which is defined in S4 of the standard as one who fabricates, laminates, or tempers glazing materials, or a manufacturer cutting sections of glazing originally produced by someone else. NHTSA would consider you to be a prime glazing manufacturer because forming or molding polycarbonate is considered fabricating. Section S6.2 of FMVSS No. 205 specifies that prime glazing manufacturers certify that their products comply with FMVSS No. 205 by marking the glazing in accordance with section 7 of ANSI Z26.1, and adding to those markings in letters and numerals of the same size, the symbol DOT and a manufacturers code mark that NHTSA assigns to the manufacturer.
Under S6.2 of FMVSS No. 205, NHTSA will assign a code mark to a manufacturer after the manufacturer submits a written request to the NHTSAs Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance. You can submit your request for a code mark to the following address: NHTSA Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.
The above certification requirements essentially apply to you as follows. Even though GE certified its polycarbonate sheets as complying with FMVSS No. 205, after forming the polycarbonate into the shape of the windshield you are selling, you as a prime glazing manufacturer must certify that the glazing continues to meet all applicable requirements of the standard. Each of NHTSAs safety standards specifies the test conditions and procedures that NHTSA will use to evaluate the performance of the vehicle or equipment being tested for compliance with the particular safety standard. To provide a basis for its certification of compliance, a prime glazing manufacturer may choose any valid means of evaluating its procedures to determine whether the glazing complies with FMVSS No. 205 (e.g., through actual testing, computer simulation, engineering analyses, or other means). However, the manufacturer must ensure that the product will meet FMVSS No. 205 when tested by NHTSA using the test procedures and conditions specified in the standard. Further, NHTSA may require a manufacturer to provide the data it used to determine whether the glazing material met FMVSS No. 205 requirements.
If a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a noncompliance or safety-related defect exists, the manufacturer must notify purchasers of its product and remedy the problem free of charge. (Note that this responsibility is borne by the vehicle manufacturer in cases in which your glazing is installed on a new vehicle by or with the express authorization of that vehicle manufacturer.) In addition, a manufacturer is subject to civil penalties under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, unless it
can establish that it had no reason to know, despite exercising reasonable care, that the equipment did not comply. What constitutes reasonable care in a particular case depends on all relevant facts.
In addition to the requirements described above, please note that your manufacture of glazing materials may also be affected by NHTSA's longstanding interpretation of our regulation on manufacturer identification (49 CFR Part 566; copy enclosed), if the motorcycle manufacturer sells motorcycles equipped with your windshields in this country. We require a manufacturer of equipment to which an FMVSS applies (covered equipment, e.g., glazing products) to submit its name, address, and a brief description of the items of the equipment it manufacturers to NHTSA separately from the vehicle manufacturer to which the equipment manufacturer supplies its products. NHTSA has interpreted Part 566 to require the information from foreign manufacturers of covered equipment supplying their products to a foreign vehicle manufacturer selling its vehicles in the United States.
Please note that you are not required to designate an agent for service of process under 49 CFR Part 551 (Subpart D), if you supply your products only to a foreign vehicle manufacturer. This is the case even if the foreign vehicle manufacturer installs your products on vehicles that will be sold in the United States. However, please keep in mind that you must designate an agent under Part 551 if you decide to offer your equipment for importation into the United States.
Last, you ask about a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) form MCS-150. FMCSA is the agency in the Department of Transportation that is responsible for regulations concerning the operation of commercial motor vehicles. Companies that operate commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo in interstate commerce must be registered with FMCSA and must have a US DOT Number, and form MCS-150 is an application form for a US DOT number. If you want further information about the form, please contact FMCSA at 1-800-832-5660 or www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Sarah Alves of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke
 You can obtain a copy of ANSI/SAE Z26.1-1996 from the Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc., 400 Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale, PA 15096.