Fiem Industries Ltd.
C-171, Mayapuri Industrial Area, Phase II
New Delhi 110 064
Dear Mr. Anand:
We have received your letter of December 14, 1995, with respect to obtaining "SAE/DOT approval" for certain items of motorcycle lighting equipment, specifically headlamps, taillamps, and "blinker lamp assy front/rear." By this, we believe you refer to "turn signal lamps." This is the term for them in the U.S. lighting standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.
Your letter indicates that Fiem Industries will supply lighting equipment to a manufacturer of motorcycles who will install the equipment and export the completed motorcycle to the United States. Under our laws, before a motorcycle is admitted to the U. S., the manufacturer must place on it a label certifying that the motorcycle complies with all applicable U.S. Federal motor vehicle safety standards (including the lighting standard). Our laws do not require the motorcycle manufacturer to obtain SAE/DOT approval before this label is affixed. Indeed, we are not authorized to test a manufacturer's products and provide approvals.
This self-certification process means that the motorcycle manufacturer must find its own ways of assuring itself that its vehicle complies with the U.S. standards before placing the label on it. It has asked Fiem to obtain SAE/DOT approval. This method is not possible. What is possible is for Fiem to have the lamps tested in India or the U.S. according to the test procedures specified in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 or the SAE Standards which are incorporated into it. If the lamps pass the tests, Fiem can show the test documentation to the motorcycle manufacturer as an assurance that the lamps have been designed to conform to U.S. requirements. However, because of production tolerances and the chance of human error, Fiem should retest production
lamps from time to time to ensure that the lamps which it provides the motorcycle manufacturer continue to conform to U.S. requirements. Indeed, the motorcycle manufacturer should insist that Fiem do so (or conduct its own occasional verification testing).
We are authorized to enforce the safety standards through our own tests, and if we find that Fiem's lighting equipment on the motorcycle does not conform, the motorcycle manufacturer will be required to recall the machines and repair them. It will also have to pay a civil penalty unless it can assure us that it exercised reasonable care. Thus its relationship with Fiem bears upon the question of whether it has exercised reasonable care.
You also asked for "the procedure and test specifications." The requirements for taillamps are those of SAE J585e, September 1977. The requirements for turn signal lamps are those of SAE J588 NOV84, except that Standard No. 108 (a) allows motorcycle turn signal lamps to meet only one-half the minimum photometric values specified in Table 1 and Table 3 of SAE J588, and (b) requires the turn signal lamp to have an effective projected luminous area of not less than 3 1/2 square inches; for turn signal operating unit, SAE J589, April 1964; for turn signal flasher, SAE J590b, October 1965. The requirements for headlamps are those of SAE J584, April 1964. I am enclosing a copy of each of these, as well as the test procedures incorporated by reference in the SAE materials. However, under Standard No. 108, a motorcycle sold in the U.S. may also be equipped with one half of certain types of passenger car headlighting systems. We are not enclosing copies of passenger car headlighting standards. If the motorcycle manufacturer is intending to equip its vehicles with a headlighting system using a passenger car headlamp, please inform us of the type and we will be pleased to provide you with the appropriate standards.
Although you did not ask about them, Standard No. 108 also requires motorcycles to be equipped with stop lamps, license plate lamps, and red and amber reflex reflectors. If you intend to supply these and have any questions about them or other motorcycle lighting requirements, you may FAX them to us at 202-366-3820, Attention: Taylor Vinson.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel
Enclosures ref:108 d:3/4/96