Mr. Mike Hofstätter
Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co KG
Liebenauer Hauptstraße 317
A-8041 Graz

Dear Mr. Hofstätter:

This responds to your request for information whether a vehicle your company is considering manufacturing may be classified as a "multipurpose passenger vehicle." As explained below, we need more information to make this determination.

Please note that under NHTSA's statutory authority (49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 Motor Vehicle Safety) the vehicle's manufacturer is responsible in the first instance for classifying a particular vehicle. NHTSA does not approve or endorse any vehicle classification before the manufacturer itself has classified a particular vehicle. NHTSA may reexamine the manufacturer's classification during the course of an enforcement action.

"Multipurpose passenger vehicle" is defined in our regulations at 49 CFR 571.3 as "a motor vehicle with motive power, except a trailer, designed to carry 10 persons or less which is constructed either on a truck chassis or with special features for occasional off-road operation."

Your letter informed us that you are designing a "passenger car" with dimensions similar to a Volkswagen Golf, with four side doors, one rear door, two front seats and three rear seats. Your letter further states that the vehicle has a front wheel drive, and the body "will be lifted up for 50 to 60 mm, so that the vehicle can be used for occasional off-road operation."

Based on your description, it appears that the vehicle is designed to carry fewer than 10 persons (as it has five seats). Part of "multipurpose passenger vehicle's" definition is that it has "special features for occasional off-road operation." The only "special feature" you have described is the body is raised 50-60 mm. We cannot agree that raising the body 50-60 mm alone is commensurate with equipping the vehicle with special features for off-road operation.

Before determining whether your vehicle could be classified as a "multipurpose passenger vehicle," we must know whether the vehicle has other special features. If your vehicle has other features for occasional off-road operation, please write to let us know what they are. After reviewing the additional information, we will be able to make an informed decision.

I am enclosing an information sheet for new manufacturers of motor vehicles. For further information, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.


John Womack

Acting Chief Counsel