Manager, Vehicle Regulations
Volkswagen of America, Inc.
3800 Hamlin Road
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Dear Mr. Haenchen:
This responds to your request for an interpretation of marking requirements in 49 CFR part 541 Federal Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Standard for high theft vehicle lines' replacement parts. The answer to both of your questions is VW is still required to mark the replacement parts in question.
In your letter, you explained that the Volkswagen Corrado line, a high theft line, was parts marked (pursuant to 49 CFR part 541) in model years 1990 through 1994. For model year 1995, NHTSA granted an exemption from parts marking for the Corrado line, based on the inclusion of an approved antitheft device as standard equipment on all models in the Corrado line. (58 FR 28434, May 13, 1993). However, you informed us in your letter that the Corrado will not be sold in the United States for MY 1995. Your first question asks whether replacement parts for the Corrado line are exempted from the parts marking requirements of part 541.
The answer is no. Section 543.7(d) specifies that part 543 exemptions apply only to lines that are the subject of the grant, and are equipped with the antitheft device on which the line's exemption was based. You inform us that the Corrado will not be offered for sale in the U.S. in MY 1995. If the Corrado will not be offered for sale in this country, then no Corrrados sold in the U.S. will be equipped with the approved antitheft device. If no Corrado is so equipped, the part 543 exemption would not apply to the Corrado line. Thus, Volkswagen would be required to continue to mark any Corrado replacement parts, subject to part 541, offered for sale in the U.S.
In your letter, you cited an October 12, 1989 NHTSA interpretation letter to Saab-Scania of America to support your position that the Corrado's replacement parts need not continue to be marked. We do not believe that the letter to Saab supports your position.
Saab received an exemption from parts marking for the Saab 9000 for the 1989 model year, and asked NHTSA to clarify the scope of the part 543 exemption. On page two of the letter to Saab, NHTSA stated that Saab was free to discontinue marking of original equipment and replacement parts for the Saab 9000 as soon as the part 543 exemption took effect, "provided that Saab actually installed the antitheft device described in its petition..." The letter to Saab establishes that if it does not install the antitheft device on the exempted line, a manufacturer is not free to discontinue marking replacement parts on the line.
Your second question was whether replacement parts marking may be terminated at some point after a high theft line subject to parts marking, is no longer produced. The answer is no. This issue was addressed in the final rule establishing 49 CFR part 541 (50 FR 43166, October 25, 1985):
Once a line is selected as a high theft line, each covered major replacement part designed for use on that line must be identified as a replacement part. That requirement remains in effect as long as those replacement parts are produced. (50 FR 43178).
Thus, as long as replacement parts are produced for a high theft line subject to parts marking, the replacement parts must continue to be marked.
I hope that this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel