Jay Joseph, Senior Manager
Product Regulatory Office
American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
1919 Torrance Boulevard
Torrance, CA 90501-2746
Dear Mr. Joseph:
This responds to your letter asking whether your method of presenting the designated seated capacity of a vehicle meets a labeling requirement in S4.3 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 110. Our answer is yes.
S4.3 of the standard requires each vehicle to show certain information, specified in S4.3(a) through (g) of the standard, on a placard permanently affixed to the vehicle at a specified location. Your question pertains to the information specified by S4.3(b). That section states:
(b) Designated seated capacity (expressed in terms of total number of occupants and number of occupants for each front and rear seat location)[.]
In addition, among other things S4.3 states: This information shall be in the English language and conform in color and format, not including the border surrounding the entire placard, as shown in the example set forth in Figure 1 in this standard. Figure 1 of the standard shows that for SEATING CAPACITY, the terms set forth on the depicted label are: TOTAL, FRONT, AND REAR.
You ask about the placard from a Model Year 2010 Odyssey LX, which has one front row and two rear rows. For this vehicle, the placard sets forth SEATING CAPACITY information for the TOTAL capacity, and for the FRONT, SECOND, and THIRD rows. Unlike the example placard shown in Figure 1 of the standard, your placard for this vehicle does not provide a single number for rear seats.
The question you present is whether presenting the seating capacity information for the second and third rows in the vehicle, rather than for the entire rear, meets S4.3 of FMVSS
You believe that presenting the Odysseys rear seating capacity information by rows meets S4.3(b) and is the most beneficial method of providing this information to consumers due to variations in rear seating capacity and configuration among a vehicles models and trim levels. You explain that a vehicle such as the Honda Odyssey minivan has different trim levels, including LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring models. The LX model has a seating capacity of 7 occupants, with two designated seating positions each in the front and second rows, and three in the third row. The EX, EX-L, and Touring models are configured for 8 occupants, two in the front row and three designated seating positions each in the second and third rows. You believe that providing the maximum seating capacity per row of seating gives the consumer valuable information about the safe operation of the vehicle.
Our response is that your method of providing the vehicles designated seated capacity, expressing the number of occupants for each of the two rear rows rather than for the entire rear, meets S4.3.
Under S4.3(b), the placard must provide the designated seated capacity, expressed in terms of total number of occupants and number of occupants for each front and rear seat location. We believe that the Odysseys placard, specifying the seating capacity for each row of seats, satisfies the requirement to express the vehicles designated seating capacity in terms of the number of occupants for each front and rear seat location. In this instance, specifying the number of seats in each rear row will help a consumer determine whether the second row of seats has either two or three designated seating position depending on the vehicles trim level.
We recognize that in a preamble responding to a petition for reconsideration, NHTSA interpreted S4.3(b) as not permitting the placard to indicate the rear seating capacity by row. The agency sought to limit information that could overcrowd the placards rich content. For example, a vehicle with many rows of seating would make the placard difficult to read if it had text describing the vehicles seating capacity for individual rows. However, with regard to the Odysseys placard, we believe that your manner of expressing the number of occupants for each rear row expresses the number of occupants for each rear seat location, in accordance with S4.3(b).
Further, the sample Odyssey placard you provide in your letter shows the information for the seating capacity in a single line of legible text. This is important because S4.3 of FMVSS No. 110 states that This information [set forth in S4.3(a) through (g)] shall be in the English language and conform in color and format, not including the border surrounding the entire placard, as shown in the example set forth in Figure 1 in this standard. We believe format as used in this context refers to features such as the size, shape, layout and arrangement of the information. Your placard appears to preserve the format and relative size of the information shown in the example placard shown in Figure 1. The rear capacity of the Odyssey is shown in a single line of text in the location where Figure 1 shows the REAR capacity. We conclude that your placards seating capacity information conforms to the format provided in Figure 1.
If you have any further questions, please contact Deirdre Fujita of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
O. Kevin Vincent