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Interpretation ID: 2620y

Mr. Brian Gill
Senior Manager
Certification Department
American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
100 West Alondra Boulevard
P. O. Box 50
Gardena, California 90247-0805

Dear Mr. Gill:

This responds to your request that this agency determine that the new antitheft device proposed to be installed on the MY 1991 Honda Acura NS-X car line, represents a de minimis change in the system that was the basis for the agency's previous granting of a theft exemption for the car line beginning in MY 1991, and that therefore the Acura NS-X vehicles containing the new device would be fully covered by that exemption.

As you are aware, the Acura NS-X car line was granted an exemption, pursuant to 49 CFR Part 543, from antitheft marking because Honda showed that the antitheft device to be used in lieu of marking on the car line was likely to be as effective as parts marking. This exemption was issued on February 5, 1990, and appeared in the Federal Register on February 9, 1990 (55 FR 4746).

The agency granted the exemption from theft marking because the agency found that based on substantial evidence, the agency believed that the antitheft device is "likely to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as compliance with the parts-marking requirements of the theft prevention standard (49 CFR Part 541)." In the granting of the exemption from theft marking, the agency stated that it believed that the device will provide the types of performance listed in 49 CFR Part 543.6(a)(3): Promoting activation; attracting attention to unauthorized entries; preventing defeat or circumventing of the device by unauthorized persons; preventing operation of the vehicle by unauthorized entrants; and ensuring the reliability and durability of the device.

In your letter, it was stated that beginning from MY 1991, Honda plans improvements in the antitheft device that is standard equipment on the Acura NS-X in two ways: First, the new antitheft system would be armed by using the auto door lock system control to lock either door. Honda states that in the system that was the subject of the exemption from the theft prevention system, it was necessary to use the control on the driver's door in order to arm the system. According to the attachment provided in your letter, this change would make it possible to arm the the theft deterrent system by locking either door even if the other door is left unlocked. Second, the radio would now be included in the alarm system. Thus, the alarm system will be activated if the radio terminal or the coupler is disconnected, or if the radio's wiring is cut.

After reviewing the proposed changes to the componentry and performance of the antitheft device on which the exemption was based, the agency concludes that the changes are de minimis. While the new device has enhanced componentry and provides some aspects of performance not provided by the original device, it also continues to provide the same aspects of performance provided by the original device and relies on essentially the same componentry to provide that performance. Therefore, it is not necessary for Honda to submit a petition to modify the exemption pursuant to 49 CFR Part 543.9(c)(2).

If Honda does not implement the new antitheft device as described in your letter, or delays implementation until after MY 1991, we request that Honda notify the agency of such decisions.

It is my understanding that, in a May 16, 1990, telephone conversation between Brian Tinkler of Honda and Dorothy Nakama of NHTSA's Office of Chief Counsel, Mr. Tinkler confirmed that Honda was not requesting confidential treatment of any information provided in your letter. Therefore, a copy of your letter, and this response, will be placed together in NHTSA's public docket.


Barry Felrice Associate Administrator for Rulemaking / ref:Part 543 d:7/ll/90