Director, Mobile Products Engineering
Ellis & Watts
4400 Glen Willow Lake Lane
Batavia, Ohio 45103
Dear Mr. Getz:
This responds to your letter asking whether certain operations that your company performs on used trailers result in the trailers being considered "newly manufactured" for purposes of the Federal motor vehicle safety standards. You stated that you sometimes change the finishing and equipment of a used trailer for a new application. As an example, you stated that you recently took a 10- year old trailer, stripped the inside, and refinished it as a mobile marketing facility. You also stated that in some cases you may cut a hole in the side and install a door for a specific application. In a telephone conversation with Dorothy Nakama of my staff, you indicated that you have also changed trailers by adding heating or air conditioning units, or making the trailer usable as an auditorium.
In your letter, you asked whether the trailers would be considered "newly manufactured" if the running gear, VIN and the basic trailer structure do not change, but the ownership does change. You asked this question in light of the fact that change of ownership is relevant under 49 CFR part 571.7(f) in determining whether a trailer manufactured from new and used components is considered newly manufactured. As discussed below, it is our opinion that the operations you describe do not result in the trailers being considered newly manufactured.
By way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues safety standards for new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle equipment. The agency does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, manufacturers are required to certify that their vehicles or equipment meet all applicable standards. The following represents our opinion based on the facts provided in your letter.
Section 49 CFR part 571.7(f) reads as follows:
Combining new and used components in trailer manufacture. When new materials are used in the assembly of a trailer, the trailer will be considered newly manufactured for
purposes of [the safety standards], unless, at a minimum, the running gear assembly (axle(s), wheels, braking and suspension) is not new, and was taken from an existing trailer--
(1) Whose identity is continued in the reassembled vehicle with respect to the Vehicle Identification Number; and
(2) That is owned or leased by the user of the reassembled vehicle.
This section only applies when new and used materials are used in the "assembly" of a trailer. It is our opinion that the operations that you describe, i.e., where the running gear, VIN and the basic trailer structure do not change, do not constitute trailer assembly. Therefore, this section, including its provision concerning transfer of ownership, does not apply. We consider your operations to be in the nature of repair or refurbishment of a used trailer, which does not result in the trailer being considered newly manufactured.
I hope this information is helpful. If there are any questions, please contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.
Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel