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Interpretation ID: aiam2020

Mr. C. J. Baker, Peerless Division-Royal Industries, P.O. Box 447, Tualatin, OR 97062; Mr. C. J. Baker
Peerless Division-Royal Industries
P.O. Box 447
OR 97062;

Dear Mr. Baker: This responds to your July 3, 1975, request for confirmation that final-stage manufacturer (as defined in 49 CFR S 568.3) is responsible for certification of its motor vehicle products under Part 568 of Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (vehicles manufactured in two or more stages) and that it would be illegal for a final-stage manufacturer to complete a truck with a volumetric capacity which would accommodate more weight than the rated cargo load, causing the loaded vehicle weight to exceed the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) specified by the manufacturer. You also request confirmation that the cargo container designed for a specific commodity must have a load center of gravity (CG) that does not cause the total vehicle CG to exceed the chassis manufacturer's specified CG.; You are correct that Part 568 makes the final-stage manufacture responsible for certification of a completed vehicle which is manufactured in two or more stages.; If a final-stage manufacturer specifies a rated cargo load for th completed vehicle, the weight of the vehicle when carrying that load must not exceed the GVWR. If you supply no rated cargo load, but only the volumetric capacity, the capacity would not on its face lead to a violation of the certification regulations, since the weight of specific commodities can vary considerably.; You should be aware, however, that completing the vehicle so that it apparent carrying capacity exceeds the stated weight ratings may create some risks of liability beyond the certification regulations themselves. If, for example, the vehicle suffers a hazardous malfunction in use that can be traced to overloading, its manufacturer may be liable both under the defect provisions of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1402) and under common law product liability doctrines. As you suggest, the final-stage manufacturer who completes a vehicle for specific commodity is clearly on notice that providing 'overload capacity' could constitute a safety-related defect if that vehicle is involved in an accident due to overloading. I enclose copies of two interpretations on this subject provided to a manufacturer and a trade association.; Part 568 contains no requirements for limitation of cargo load cente of gravity. I assume your question about CG concerns completion of air-braked vehicles in a fashion which permits you to certify to Standard No. 121, *Air brake systems*. I enclose a copy of a notice which explains that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will test a vehicle under Standard No. 121, whether or not designed for a specific capacity, using a CG height which does not exceed that specified by the chassis manufacturer. I would note that the preamble of the enclosed notice points out that, if the NHTSA should discover vehicles being produced that do not perform safely when loaded in a normal manner and can establish that this condition is attributable to deficiencies in vehicle manufacture or design, it can proceed against their manufacturers under its safety-related defect jurisdiction.; Yours truly, Richard B. Dyson, Assistant Chief Counsel