[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 29 (Friday, February 11, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 7898-7903]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-3130]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0118]


Wheego Electric Cars, Inc.; Grant of Application for Temporary 
Exemption From Advanced Air Bag Requirements of FMVSS No. 208

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of grant of petition for temporary exemption from 
certain provisions of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 
208, Occupant Crash Protection.

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SUMMARY: This notice grants the petition of Wheego Electric Cars, Inc. 
(Wheego) for the temporary exemption of its Whip LiFe model from 
certain advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. The basis for 
the exemption is that the exemption would facilitate the development or 
field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle and would not 
unreasonably reduce the safety level of that vehicle.

DATES: The exemption is effective immediately, conditioned upon 
Wheego's submission to NHTSA, at least 30 days prior to the first 
delivery of the LiFe to a distributor or dealer for sale in the United 
States, the certification test data and other data in support of the 
certification of the LiFe's compliance with certain FMVSSs, as 
discussed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section. This exemption 
remains in effect until February 11, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Jasinski, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, NCC-112, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building 4th Floor, Room W41-326, 
Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2992; Fax: (202) 366-3820.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Advanced Air Bag Requirements

    In 2000, NHTSA upgraded the requirements for air bags in passenger 
cars and light trucks, requiring what are commonly known as ``advanced 
air bags.'' \1\ The upgrade was designed to meet the twin goals of 
improving protection for occupants of all sizes, belted and unbelted, 
in moderate-to-high-speed crashes, and of minimizing the risks posed by 
deploying air bags to infants, children, and other occupants, 
especially in low-speed crashes.
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    \1\ See 65 FR 30680 (May 12, 2000).
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    The advanced air bag requirements were a culmination of a 
comprehensive plan that the agency announced in 1996 to address the 
adverse effects of some air bag designs. This plan also included 
conducting rulemaking to facilitate the depowering of air bags and 
conducting an extensive consumer education program to encourage the 
placement of children in rear seats.
    The new requirements were phased in beginning with the 2004 model 
year. Small volume manufacturers were not subject to the advanced air 
bag requirements until September 1, 2006.
    In recent years, NHTSA has addressed a number of petitions for 
exemption from the advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208. The 
majority of these requests have come from small manufacturers that have 
petitioned on the basis that compliance would cause substantial 
economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to 
comply with the standard. NHTSA has granted a number of these 
petitions, usually in situations where the manufacturer is supplying 
standard air bags in lieu of advanced air bags.\2\ In addressing these 
petitions, NHTSA has recognized that small manufacturers may face 
particular difficulties in acquiring or developing advanced air bag 
systems.
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    \2\ See, e.g., grant of petition to Panoz, 72 FR 28759 (May 22, 
2007), or grant of petition to Koenigsegg, 72 FR 17608 (April 9, 
2007).
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    The agency has carefully tracked occupant fatalities resulting from 
air bag deployment. Our data indicate that the agency's efforts in the 
area of consumer education and manufacturers' response to the agency's 
rulemaking by providing depowered air bags were successful in

[[Page 7899]]

reducing air bag fatalities even before advanced air bag requirements 
were implemented.
    As always, we are concerned about the potential safety implications 
of any temporary exemption granted by this agency. In the present case, 
we are addressing a petition for a temporary exemption from the 
advanced air bag requirements submitted by a manufacturer of a plug-in 
electric car. The stated basis of the petition was that requiring 
compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer 
that has tried in good faith to comply with the advanced air bag 
requirements. However, after consultation with the petitioner, we have 
also considered the petition under a different basis--that an exemption 
would facilitate the development or field evaluation of a low-emission 
motor vehicle and would not unreasonably lower the safety level of the 
vehicle.

II. Statutory Basis for Temporary Exemptions

    The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act), 
codified as 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, authorizes the Secretary of 
Transportation to exempt, on a temporary basis and under specified 
circumstances, motor vehicles from a motor vehicle safety standard or 
bumper standard. This authority is set forth at 49 U.S.C. 30113. The 
Secretary has delegated the authority in this section to NHTSA.
    NHTSA established 49 CFR Part 555, Temporary Exemption from Motor 
Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards, to implement the statutory 
provisions concerning temporary exemptions. A vehicle manufacturer 
wishing to obtain an exemption from a standard must demonstrate in its 
application (A) that an exemption would be in the public interest and 
consistent with the Vehicle Safety Act and (B) that the manufacturer 
satisfies one of the following four bases for an exemption: (i) 
Compliance with the standard would cause substantial economic hardship 
to a manufacturer that has tried to comply with the standard in good 
faith; (ii) the exemption would make easier the development or field 
evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a safety 
level at least equal to the safety level of the standard; (iii) the 
exemption would make the development or field evaluation of a low-
emission motor vehicle easier and would not unreasonably lower the 
safety level of that vehicle; or (iv) compliance with the standard 
would prevent the manufacturer from selling a motor vehicle with an 
overall safety level at least equal to the overall safety level of 
nonexempt vehicles.
    Only small manufacturers can obtain a hardship exemption. A 
manufacturer is eligible to apply for a hardship exemption if its total 
motor vehicle production in its most recent year of production did not 
exceed 10,000 vehicles, as determined by the NHTSA Administrator (49 
U.S.C. 30113). In determining whether a manufacturer of a vehicle meets 
that criterion, NHTSA considers whether another entity also might be 
deemed a manufacturer of that vehicle and whether the production 
volumes of each of the two manufacturers should be combined in 
assessing whether the criterion is met. A second entity might be deemed 
a manufacturer of a vehicle in a variety of circumstances. For example, 
there are two manufacturers if one entity produces an incomplete 
vehicle \3\ and another entity then modifies the incomplete vehicle so 
as to produce a completed vehicle.\4\ NHTSA has stated that a 
manufacturer may be deemed to be a sponsor and thus a manufacturer of a 
vehicle assembled by a second manufacturer if the first manufacturer 
had a substantial role in the development and manufacturing process of 
that vehicle.
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    \3\ 49 CFR 567.3.
    \4\ Ibid.
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    For an exemption petition to be granted on the basis that the 
exemption would make the development or field evaluation of a low-
emission motor vehicle easier and would not unreasonably lower the 
safety level of the vehicle, the petition must include specified 
information set forth at 49 CFR 555.6(c). The main requirements of that 
section include: (1) Substantiation that the vehicle is a low-emission 
vehicle; (2) documentation establishing that a temporary exemption 
would not unreasonably degrade the safety of a vehicle; (3) 
substantiation that a temporary exemption would facilitate the 
development or field evaluation of the vehicle; (4) a statement of 
whether the petitioner intends to conform to the standard at the end of 
the exemption period; and (5) a statement that not more than 2,500 
exempted vehicles will be sold in the United States in any 12-month 
period for which an exemption may be granted.
    Finally, while 49 U.S.C. 30113(b) states that exemptions from a 
Safety Act standard are to be granted on a ``temporary basis,'' \5\ the 
statute also expressly authorizes the agency to renew an exemption on 
reapplication. The agency wishes to caution manufacturers that the 
agency's decision to grant a manufacturer's initial exemption petition 
in no way predetermines whether the agency will grant a petition for 
renewal of an initial exemption. The agency does not believe it would 
be consistent with section 30113 for the agency to grant repeated 
renewals, since doing so would impart semi-permanent exempted status to 
the manufacturer. This seems particularly true in the case of 
exemptions based on developing or evaluating a new vehicle. 
Accordingly, exempted manufacturers seeking renewal must bear in mind 
that the agency is directed to consider the public interest, 
consistency with the Safety Act, generally, as well as other specific 
matters provided in the statute.
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    \5\ 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(1).
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III. Wheego's Petition

    Wheego submitted a petition for exemption from certain requirements 
of FMVSS No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, pursuant to 49 CFR Part 
555, Temporary Exemption from Motor Vehicle Safety and Bumper 
Standards, for its LiFe model for a period of three years. 
Specifically, the petition requested an exemption from paragraphs S14 
(including S14.5.2) (advanced air bag requirements), S15 (rigid barrier 
test requirements using 5th percentile adult female dummies), S16 
(rigid barrier test procedure), S17 (offset frontal deformable barrier 
requirements using 5th percentile adult female dummies), S18 (test 
procedure for offset frontal deformable barrier), S19 (requirements to 
provide protection for infants in rear facing and convertible child 
restraints and car beds), S21 (requirements using 3-year-old child 
dummies), S23 (requirements using 6-year-old child dummies), S25 
(requirements using an out-of-position 5th percentile adult female 
dummy at the driver position), S26 (procedure for low risk deployment 
tests of driver air bag), and S27 (option for dynamic automatic 
suppression system that suppresses the air bag when an occupant is out 
of position) of FMVSS No. 208.
    In further submissions to the agency, Wheego clarified its plans 
with respect to S14, stating that it will certify its vehicles to 
comply with the belted 50th percentile male barrier impact test 
(S14.5.1(a)). Wheego has also since stated that it plans to certify to 
the unbelted 50th percentile barrier impact test in force prior to 
September 1, 2006 (S5.1.2(a)) (with the unbelted sled test in S13 being 
an acceptable option for that requirement).
    Although Wheego seeks exemption from S16, S18, S26, and S27, those 
provisions set forth compliance test

[[Page 7900]]

procedures for optional means of compliance. Wheego does not need an 
exemption from S16, S18, and S26, because those provisions do not set 
forth requirements with which Wheego must certify compliance. Instead, 
they set forth the compliance test procedures for the substantive 
requirements in S15, S17, and S25 respectively. Wheego also does not 
need an exemption from S27, which sets forth requirements for an 
optional dynamic automatic suppression system. Accordingly, we have 
considered Wheego's petition as seeking an exemption from S14 (apart 
from S14.5.1(a)), S15, S17, S19, S21, S23, and S25 of FMVSS No. 208.
    The stated basis for Wheego's application is that requiring 
compliance would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer 
that has tried in good faith to comply with the standard. According to 
the petition, Wheego is a privately held company incorporated in the 
State of Delaware, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Its total 
motor vehicle production during the 12 months preceding the filing of 
the petition was 308 vehicles. Wheego indicated that all of these 
vehicles were all-electric Wheego Whip LSVs (low speed vehicles). In 
order for a vehicle to qualify as a low speed vehicle under FMVSS No. 
500, Low-Speed Vehicles, its top speed must not exceed 25 miles per 
hour.
    Wheego states that the LiFe is a zero-emission, two-door, two-seat 
coupe that uses a lithium iron phosphate battery pack to power a 60 
horsepower AC induction electric motor. The LiFe has a high strength 
steel unibody chassis made by Shijiazhuang ShuangHuan Automobile Co. 
(ShuangHuan) in China. A similar chassis (minus modifications 
reportedly made by ShuangHuan to the chassis sold to Wheego) is used by 
ShuangHuan in manufacturing a passenger car (called the ``Noble'') with 
an internal combustion engine for sale in China, Australia, Greece, and 
other parts of the world outside the United States. Wheego states that, 
by purchasing and using an existing chassis, it was able to avoid the 
high cost of developing and manufacturing a brand new vehicle design. 
Wheego also states that ShuangHuan has developed dual standard air bags 
for the chassis, but not an advanced air bag system.
    Wheego contends that granting an exemption would be in the public 
interest. Wheego intends the LiFe to be ``one of the first affordable 
electric cars available in the United States.'' Wheego states that 
electric vehicles have several benefits, including reducing the 
nation's reliance on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gas and other 
emissions. Wheego also contends that, allowing it to enter the market 
now would contribute to the development of electric vehicles in general 
by helping to evaluate the market and performance of electric vehicles 
with real world experience. Wheego also cites employment opportunities 
as a benefit.
    Wheego intends to produce only a limited number of LiFes in the 
first three years of production, which it contends would limit the 
overall impact on motor vehicle safety. In its original petition, 
Wheego projected that it would sell 550 LiFes in 2010, 1,200 in 2011, 
2,400 in 2012, and 5,000 in 2013. Wheego has since indicated that its 
anticipated production would be approximately 100 vehicles per month 
throughout the requested exemption period. Thus, the 12-month 
production total would be approximately 1,200 vehicles. Wheego states 
that the primary purpose of the LiFe will be as a commuter vehicle 
because it will have a limited range compared to that of gasoline 
powered vehicles. The LiFe will have a projected range of 100 miles and 
will require a minimum of 5 hours to regain a 50 percent charge. 
Because of the small sales volume and limited range, Wheego states that 
the number of hours that the LiFes will be on roads will be lower 
compared to gasoline powered vehicles, thereby reducing the likelihood 
of a crash.
    Wheego contends that compliance with the advanced air bag 
requirements would cause substantial economic hardship and that Wheego 
has tried to comply with the standard in good faith. Wheego states that 
it cannot acquire an off-the-shelf advanced air bag system for the LiFe 
because an advanced air bag system has never been developed for the 
chassis used in the LiFe. Wheego states that it does not have the 
technical or financial resources to develop such a system independently 
and would have to cancel the development of a passenger car and 
terminate its operations if it does not obtain the requested exemption.
    In October 2009, Wheego engaged J.K. Technologies in Baltimore, 
Maryland, for help with testing and certification requirements of the 
FMVSSs. Also in October 2009, Wheego approached TASS Engineering 
Services and Bosch for help in developing an advanced air bag system 
for the LiFe. Based upon this consultation, Wheego estimates that an 
advanced air bag system would cost $3 million and would take 18 months 
to test and implement. In its original petition, Wheego stated that it 
intended to spend $1 million in each of 2011, 2012, and 2013, obtained 
from sales of the LiFe, in an effort to develop a system that will 
comply with the advanced air bag requirements. Wheego stated that, 
based on its projected revenues, by the end of the third year of an 
exemption, Wheego should be able to build cars with advanced air bags 
at no additional cost. However, Wheego has since indicated that, if 
their exemption petition is granted, they expect a substantial 
investment in their business that would allow them to meet the advanced 
air bag requirements by September 2012.

IV. Notice of Receipt

    On August 23, 2010, we published in the Federal Register (75 FR 
51870) a notice of receipt of Wheego's petition for temporary 
exemption, and provided an opportunity for public comment. We received 
one comment, which was from Wheego. It addressed only the issue of 
sponsorship.

V. Agency Analysis and Decision

    In this section, we provide our analysis and decision regarding 
Wheego's temporary exemption request concerning advanced air bag 
requirements of FMVSS No. 208.
    As discussed below, we are granting Wheego's petition for the LiFe 
to be exempted, for a period of two years after the date of publication 
of this notice in the Federal Register, from S14 (apart from 
S14.5.1(a)), S15, S17, S19, S21, S23, and S25 of FMVSS No. 208. In 
addition to certifying compliance with the belted 50th percentile adult 
male dummy barrier impact requirements in S14.5.1(a), Wheego must 
certify to the unbelted 50th percentile adult male dummy barrier impact 
test requirement that applied prior to September 1, 2006 (S5.1.2(a)). 
For purposes of this exemption, the unbelted sled test in S13 is an 
acceptable option for that requirement. This exemption is further 
conditioned upon Wheego's submitting to the agency, at least 30 days 
before the first delivery of the LiFe to a distributor or dealer for 
sale in the United States, all certification test data, including any 
objective data, simulation data, engineering analyses, and any other 
data that forms the basis for Wheego's certification of the LiFe's 
compliance with the following FMVSSs: FMVSS No. 135, Light Vehicle 
Brake Systems; FMVSS No. 138, Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems; FMVSS 
No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection; \6\ FMVSS No. 214, Side Impact 
Protection; and FMVSS No. 216, Roof Crush Resistance.

[[Page 7901]]

The agency's rationale for this decision is as follows:
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    \6\ Excluding the sections of FMVSS No. 208 from which Wheego 
would be exempt.
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a. Change in Basis for Exemption

    As discussed above and in the notice of receipt, Wheego's 
application for an exemption from the advanced air bag requirements of 
FMVSS No. 208 was based upon an argument that compliance would cause 
substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good 
faith to comply with the standard. However, upon further review of 
Wheego's application and after discussions with Wheego, the agency and 
Wheego agreed that its request for an exemption would instead be 
considered on the basis that the exemption would make the development 
or field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would 
not unreasonably lower the safety level of the vehicle. Wheego stated 
that it would not object to NHTSA considering the petition on this 
basis, if necessary to grant the petition. In meetings with the agency 
and in post petition correspondence, Wheego has submitted additional 
information to the agency.\7\
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    \7\ A copy of all of Wheego's submissions and a summary of the 
meeting are available in the docket. See Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0118.
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    There are two reasons the agency has considered Wheego's petition 
under a different basis than stated in the application. First, as 
discussed in the notice of receipt, there is a question of Wheego's 
eligibility to apply for an economic hardship exemption. A manufacturer 
is eligible to apply for an economic hardship exemption if its total 
motor vehicle production in its most recent year of production did not 
exceed 10,000 vehicles, as determined by the NHTSA Administrator (49 
U.S.C. 30113). In determining whether a manufacturer of a vehicle meets 
that criterion, NHTSA considers whether a second entity also might be 
deemed a manufacturer of that vehicle. We indicated in the notice of 
receipt that another manufacturer, ShuangHuan, produces and supplies 
the unibody chassis of the LiFe. The chassis supplied by ShuangHuan is 
similar to the chassis of its Noble model. We sought comment on whether 
ShuangHuan might also be considered a manufacturer of the LiFe, and 
Wheego's comment addresses that issue. We believe that there is reason 
to regard ShuangHuan as a manufacturer of the LiFe. However, 
considering Wheego's petition on the basis of facilitating the 
development of a low-emission vehicle moots the question of Wheego's 
eligibility for a hardship exemption.
    Second, although there are different limitations on exemptions 
based on the development of a low-emission vehicle, Wheego's petition 
and subsequently provided information together meet all of those 
requirements except for one--the length of the exemption sought. Wheego 
has revised its production targets such that not more than 2,500 
exempted vehicles would be sold in the United States in any 12-month 
period for which an exemption may be granted. Wheego has provided 
information substantiating that it is producing a low-emission vehicle, 
documentation establishing that a temporary exemption would not 
unreasonably degrade the safety of the vehicle, substantiation that a 
temporary exemption would facilitate the development and field 
evaluation of the vehicle, and a statement that Wheego intends to 
comply with all of the requirements of FMVSS No. 208 at the end of the 
exemption period. As for the duration of the exemption, Wheego sought a 
three-year hardship exemption. However, exemptions for the development 
of a low-emission motor vehicle are limited to a two-year duration. 
Accepting Wheego's assertion that it would take 18 months to develop an 
advanced air bag system and allowing additional time for initiating 
that process and retooling, we believe that a maximum two-year 
extension is warranted based upon Wheego's application.
    Based on the foregoing, we have considered Wheego's petition for an 
exemption from the advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 208 on 
the basis that the exemption would make the development or field 
evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would not 
unreasonably lower the safety level of the vehicle, notwithstanding the 
fact that Wheego sought its exemption based upon economic hardship. We 
address below Wheego's satisfaction of the criteria for such an 
exemption.

b. Eligibility

    NHTSA believes that the requested exemption would make the 
development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier. 
Wheego has stated that the LiFe will be one of the first affordable 
electric cars available in the United States. Wheego has also stated 
that allowing them into the market by granting the exemption will 
expand consumer choices and contribute to the development of electric 
cars in general by helping to evaluate the market for electric 
vehicles. We agree that an exemption would permit Wheego to offer a 
lower priced electric vehicle and allow for the evaluation of the 
market for these vehicles.
    NHTSA also concludes that the granting of this exemption would not 
unreasonably lower the safety or impact protection level of the 
vehicle. Of particular note, the LiFe will have air bags and will be 
certified to meet the pre-advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 
208. Moreover, with the exception of the advanced air bag requirements, 
it will be required to be certified to meet all other requirements 
contained in the applicable FMVSSs.
    Furthermore, we have also considered child safety issues related to 
the exemption requested by Wheego. With respect to transporting 
children and infants, Wheego noted that the LiFe is equipped with an 
on-off switch for its passenger air bag. Wheego stated that dealers 
will instruct purchasers on the use of the on-off switch and that 
information also would be contained in the owner's manual. The 
passenger seat is also equipped with a child seat LATCH system.\8\ The 
LiFe will also have the permanently affixed ``sun visor air bag warning 
label'' and a removable ``warning label on the dashboard'' that NHTSA 
developed/requires for vehicles without advanced air bags. Thus, 
parents and others will be able to transport children in the passenger 
seat of the LiFe without exposing them to the risks of air bags, and 
the vehicles will have warning labels concerning the risks of air bags. 
This helps minimize any safety risks resulting from the vehicle not 
meeting requirements for advanced air bags.
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    \8\ Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) Restraint 
System.
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    We also observe that only a limited number of vehicles would be 
produced under the temporary exemption. Manufacturers granted 
exemptions on the basis of furthering the development of low-emission 
vehicles are limited to selling 2,500 exempted vehicles in any 12-month 
period. Given that this is a two-year exemption, no more than 5,000 
vehicles could be built that lack the advanced air bag protection of 
FMVSS No. 208. Wheego has indicated that it anticipates producing 
approximately 100 vehicles per month throughout the duration of the 
exemption period for a total of approximately 2,400 vehicles.
    Based upon the above discussion concerning safety, we believe that 
any impact on safety from granting the exemption would be negligible, 
and that Wheego has satisfied the eligibility criteria for an exemption 
for the development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor 
vehicle.

[[Page 7902]]

c. Public Interest Considerations

    NHTSA has traditionally found that the public interest is served by 
affording consumers a wider variety of motor vehicles, by encouraging 
the development of fuel-efficient and alternative-energy vehicles, and 
providing additional employment opportunities. We believe that all 
three of these public interest considerations would be served by 
granting Wheego's petition.
    Given the relatively small number of vehicles that will be produced 
during the two-year exemption and the above discussion, we believe that 
the requested exemption would have a negligible effect on motor vehicle 
safety.

d. Conditions

    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(1), the Secretary, acting through 
the NHTSA, may grant temporary exemptions ``on terms the Secretary 
considers appropriate.'' Through the course of Wheego's application 
process, issues have been raised that warrant the attachment of a 
condition to this temporary exemption.
    As stated above, the advanced air bag requirements were adopted, in 
part, to minimize the risks posed by air bags to infants, children, and 
other occupants, especially in low-speed crashes. Wheego's initial 
petition made no mention of any features in the vehicle that would 
minimize the risks posed by air bags to infants, children, and other 
occupants in low-speed crashes. Only after a notice of receipt was 
published did Wheego inform the agency of its actions to address these 
risks. Similarly, and as we stated in the notice of receipt, Wheego's 
petition provided little to explain its relationship with ShuangHuan. 
It was only through Wheego's comment on the notice of receipt and its 
subsequent petitions that we learned of the modifications to the Noble 
chassis made by Wheego for the LiFe.
    To assist the agency in learning more about Wheego's efforts to 
make design changes to the Noble to meet all of the FMVSSs, we are 
conditioning the grant of exemption on Wheego's submitting to NHTSA's 
Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance all certification test data, 
including any objective data, simulation data, engineering analyses, 
and any other data that forms the basis for Wheego's certification of 
the LiFe's compliance with the following FMVSSs: FMVSS No. 135, Light 
Vehicle Brake Systems; FMVSS No. 138, Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems; 
FMVSS No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection; \9\ FMVSS No. 214, Side 
Impact Protection; and FMVSS No. 216, Roof Crush Resistance. We are 
requiring that this data be submitted at least 30 days prior to Wheego 
delivering a LiFe to a distributor or dealer for sale in the United 
States. If this data is not submitted to NHTSA, Wheego cannot offer 
vehicles for sale under this exemption. NHTSA's evaluation of this data 
will help the Administrator determine if the temporary exemption 
continues to be in the public interest. We note that 49 CFR 555.8(d)(1) 
allows the Administrator to revoke a temporary exemption if it is no 
longer consistent with the public interest and the objectives of the 
Safety Act.
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    \9\ Excluding the sections of FMVSS No. 208 from which Wheego 
would be exempt.
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    Although Wheego seeks a three-year exemption, we explained above 
that only a two-year exemption is available under the low-emission 
motor vehicle exemption. In addition, we explained above our reasons 
why a three-year exemption is not warranted. NHTSA is considering 
generally whether it is in the public interest to continue to grant 
petitions seeking temporary exemptions from the advanced air bag 
requirements and, to the extent such petitions are granted, what plans 
and countermeasures to protect child and infant occupants, short of 
advanced air bags, should be expected. In contrast to the initial years 
after the advanced air bag requirements went into effect, low volume 
manufacturers have access to advanced air bag technology. In light of 
this reconsideration, we reiterate that the exemption we are granting 
to Wheego is temporary. Based upon Wheego's commitment to having FMVSS 
No. 208 compliant advanced air bags in the LiFe by the end of the 
exemption period, we would not view a petition to renew this temporary 
extension favorably, absent a substantial change in Wheego's 
circumstances.

e. Labels

    We note that, as explained below, prospective purchasers will be 
notified that the vehicle is exempted from the specified advanced air 
bag requirements of Standard No. 208. Under Sec.  555.9(b), a 
manufacturer of an exempted vehicle must affix securely to the 
windshield or side window of each exempted vehicle a label containing a 
statement that the vehicle conforms to all applicable FMVSSs in effect 
on the date of manufacture ``except for Standard Nos. [listing the 
standards by number and title for which an exemption has been granted] 
exempted pursuant to NHTSA Exemption No. ------.'' This label notifies 
prospective purchasers about the exemption and its subject. Under Sec.  
555.9(c), this information must also be included on the vehicle's 
certification label.
    The text of Sec.  555.9 does not expressly indicate how the 
required statement on the two labels should read in situations in which 
an exemption covers part but not all of a FMVSS. In this case, we 
believe that a statement that the vehicle has been exempted from 
Standard No. 208 generally, without an indication that the exemption is 
limited to the specified advanced air bag provisions, could be 
misleading. A consumer might incorrectly believe that the vehicle has 
been exempted from all of Standard No. 208's requirements. Moreover, we 
believe that the addition of a reference to such provisions by number 
would be of little use to consumers, since they would not know the 
subject of those specific provisions.\10\ For these reasons, we believe 
the two labels should read in relevant part, ``except for the Advanced 
Air Bag Requirements of Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, 
exempted pursuant to * * *.'' We note that the phrase ``Advanced Air 
Bag Requirements'' is an abbreviated form of the title of S14 of 
Standard No. 208. We believe it is reasonable to interpret Sec.  555.9 
as requiring this language.
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    \10\ We recognize that, in prior grants of exemptions from the 
advanced air bag requirements, the agency has required the 
manufacturer to list the exempted paragraphs by number on the label.
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f. Decision

    In consideration of the foregoing, we conclude that granting the 
requested exemption from the advanced air bag requirements of FMVSS No. 
208, Occupant Crash Protection, would facilitate the field evaluation 
or development of a low-emission vehicle, and would not unreasonably 
lower the safety or impact protection level of that vehicle. We further 
conclude that granting of an exemption would be in the public interest 
and consistent with the objectives of traffic safety.
    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. Sec.  30113(b)(3)(B)(iii), Wheego is 
granted NHTSA Temporary Exemption No. EX 11-01, from S14 (apart from 
S14.5.1(a)), S15, S17, S19, S21, S23, and S25 of FMVSS No. 208. In 
addition to certifying compliance with the belted 50th percentile adult 
male dummy barrier impact requirements in S14.5.1(a), Wheego must 
certify to the unbelted 50th percentile adult male dummy barrier impact 
test requirement that applied prior to September 1, 2006 (S5.1.2(a)). 
For purposes of this

[[Page 7903]]

exemption, the unbelted sled test in S13 is an acceptable option for 
that requirement.
    The exemption is for the LiFe model and shall remain in effect 
until two years after the date on which notice of this decision is 
published in the Federal Register, as indicated in the DATES section of 
this document. However, this grant of exemption is conditioned on 
Wheego's providing to NHTSA, at least 30 days before delivering a 
vehicle to a distributor or dealer for sale, all certification test 
data, including any objective data, simulation data, engineering 
analyses, and any other data that forms the basis for Wheego's 
certification of the LiFe's compliance with FMVSS Nos. 135, 138, 208, 
214, and 216.

(49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.50. and 
501.8)

    Issued on: February 8, 2011.
David L. Strickland,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2011-3130 Filed 2-10-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P