[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 45 (Tuesday, March 8, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12792-12793]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-5112]



[[Page 12792]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Petition for Exemption From the Federal Motor Vehicle Motor Theft 
Prevention Standard; General Motors Corporation

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

ACTION: Grant of petition for exemption.

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SUMMARY: This document grants in full the petition of General Motors 
Corporation's (GM) petition for an exemption of the Chevrolet Sonic 
vehicle line in accordance with 49 CFR part 543, Exemption from the 
Theft Prevention Standard. This petition is granted because the agency 
has determined that the antitheft device to be placed on the line as 
standard equipment 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).

DATES: The exemption granted by this notice is effective beginning with 
model year (MY) 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Deborah Mazyck, Office of 
International Policy, Fuel Economy, and Consumer Standards, NHTSA, W43-
443, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Ms. Mazyck's 
phone number is (202) 366-4139. Her fax number is (202) 493-2990.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a petition dated December 9, 2010, GM 
requested an exemption from the parts-marking requirements of the theft 
prevention standard (49 CFR part 541) for the Chevrolet Sonic vehicle 
line beginning with MY 2012. The petition requested an exemption from 
parts-marking pursuant to 49 CFR 543, Exemption from Vehicle Theft 
Prevention Standard, based on the installation of an antitheft device 
as standard equipment for the entire vehicle line.
    Under Sec.  543.5(a), a manufacturer may petition NHTSA to grant an 
exemption for one vehicle line per model year. In its petition, GM 
provided a detailed description and diagram of the identity, design, 
and location of the components of the antitheft device for the 
Chevrolet Sonic vehicle line. GM will install a passive, transponder-
based, electronic immobilizer device (PASS-Key III+) as standard 
equipment on its Chevrolet Sonic vehicle line beginning with MY 2012. 
GM stated that the device will provide protection against unauthorized 
use (i.e., starting and engine fueling), but will not provide any 
visible or audible indication of unauthorized vehicle entry (i.e., 
flashing lights or horn alarm).
    The PASS-Key III+ device is designed to be active at all times 
without direct intervention by the vehicle operator. The system is 
fully armed immediately after the ignition has been turned off and the 
key removed. Components of the antitheft device include an 
electronically-coded ignition key, an antenna module, a controller 
module and an engine control module. The ignition key contains 
electronics molded into the key head, providing billions of possible 
electronic combinations. The electronics receive energy and data from 
the controller module. Upon receipt of the data, the key will calculate 
a response to the data using secret information and an internal 
encryption algorithm, and transmit the response back to the vehicle. 
The controller module translates the radio frequency signal received 
from the key into a digital signal and compares the received response 
to an internally calculated value. If the values match, the key is 
recognized as valid and one of 65,534 ``Vehicle Security Passwords'' is 
transmitted to the engine control module to enable fueling and starting 
of the vehicle. If an invalid key code is received, the PASS-Key III+ 
controller module will send a ``Disable Password'' to the engine 
control module and starting, ignition, and fuel will be inhibited.
    In addressing the specific content requirements of 543.6, GM 
provided information on the reliability and durability of its proposed 
device. To ensure reliability and durability of the device, GM 
conducted tests based on its own specified standards. GM stated that 
the design and assembly processes of the system and components are 
validated for a vehicle life of 10 years and 150,000 miles of 
performance. GM also provided a detailed list of the tests conducted 
used to validate integrity, durability and reliability, and after each 
test, the components must operate as designed.
    GM stated that the PASS-Key III+ system has been designed to 
enhance the functionality and theft protection provided by GM's first, 
second and third generation PASS-Key, PASS-key II, and PASS-Key III 
systems. GM also stated that there is data provided by the American 
Automobile Manufacturers Association to Docket 97-042; Notice 1, that 
these systems will be effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle 
theft.
    GM indicated that the theft rates, as reported by the Federal 
Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center (NCIC), are 
lower for exempted GM models equipped with the electronically coded 
systems which have exemptions from the parts-marking requirements of 49 
CFR part 541, than the theft rates for earlier models with similar 
appearance and construction which were parts-marked. Based on the 
performance of the PASS-Key, PASS-Key II, and PASS-Key III systems on 
other GM models, and the advanced technology utilized in PASS-Key III+ 
and the Keyless Access System, GM believes that these systems will be 
more effective in deterring theft than the parts-marking requirements 
of 49 CFR part 541. GM believes that the agency should find that 
inclusion of the PASS-Key III+ system on all vehicles in the Chevrolet 
Sonic line is sufficient to qualify this vehicle line for full 
exemption from the parts-marking requirements.
    GM compared the device proposed for its Chevrolet Sonic vehicle 
line with other devices which NHTSA has determined to be as effective 
in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as would compliance with 
the parts-marking requirements. Specifically, the agency notes that in 
a previous petition, GM stated that the PASS-Key III+ antitheft device 
was also installed in the MY 2003 and 2004 Cadillac CTS vehicle line. 
The Cadillac CTS introduced as a MY 2003 vehicle line has been equipped 
with the PASS-Key III+ device since the start of production. GM stated 
that the theft rate experienced by the CTS line with installation of 
the PASS-Key III+ device demonstrates the effectiveness of the device. 
The theft rates for the 2003 and 2004 Cadillac CTS exhibit theft rates 
that are lower than the median theft rate (3.5826) established by the 
agency. The average theft rate using three model years data for the 
Cadillac CTS is 0.1906. Additionally, GM stated that the Chevrolet 
Equinox which has already been granted a parts-marking exemption by the 
agency is equipped with the PASS-Key III+ device. The average theft 
rate for the Chevrolet Equinox using three model years data is 1.1202. 
The agency agrees that the device is substantially similar to devices 
for which the agency has previously approved exemptions.
    Based on the evidence submitted by GM, the agency believes that the 
antitheft device for the Chevrolet Sonic vehicle line is likely to be 
as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as 
compliance with the parts-

[[Page 12793]]

marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard (49 CFR 541).
    GM's proposed device lacks an audible or visible alarm. Therefore, 
this device cannot perform one of the functions listed in 49 CFR part 
543.6(a)(3), that is, to call attention to unauthorized attempts to 
enter or move the vehicle. Based on comparison of the reduction in the 
theft rates of Chevrolet Corvettes using a passive theft deterrent 
system along with an audible/visible alarm system to the reduction in 
theft rates for the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird models 
equipped with a passive theft deterrent system without an alarm, GM 
finds that the lack of an alarm or attention attracting device does not 
compromise the theft deterrent performance of a system such as PASS-Key 
III+ system. Theft data have indicated a decline in theft rates for 
vehicle lines equipped with comparable devices that have received full 
exemptions from the parts-marking requirements. In these instances, the 
agency has concluded that the lack of a audible or visible alarm has 
not prevented these antitheft devices from being effective protection 
against theft.
    Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 33106 and 49 CFR 543.7(b), the agency grants 
a petition for exemption from the parts-marking requirements of part 
541, either in whole or in part, if it determines that, based upon 
substantial evidence, the standard equipment antitheft device is likely 
to be as effective in reducing and deterring motor vehicle theft as 
compliance with the parts-marking requirements of part 541. The agency 
finds that GM has provided adequate reasons for its belief that the 
antitheft device for the Chevrolet Sonic vehicle line 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). This conclusion is based on the information 
GM provided about its device.
    The agency concludes that the device will provide four of the five 
types of performance listed in Sec.  543.6(a)(3): promoting activation; 
preventing defeat or circumvention of the device by unauthorized 
persons; preventing operation of the vehicle by unauthorized entrants; 
and ensuring the reliability and durability of the device.
    For the foregoing reasons, the agency hereby grants in full GM's 
petition for exemption for the Chevrolet Sonic vehicle line from the 
parts-marking requirements of 49 CFR part 541, beginning with the 2012 
model year vehicles. The agency notes that 49 CFR part 541, Appendix A-
1, identifies those lines that are exempted from the Theft Prevention 
Standard for a given model year. 49 CFR part 543.7(f) contains 
publication requirements incident to the disposition of all part 543 
petitions. Advanced listing, including the release of future product 
nameplates, the beginning model year for which the petition is granted 
and a general description of the antitheft device is necessary in order 
to notify law enforcement agencies of new vehicle lines exempted from 
the parts marking requirements of the Theft Prevention Standard.
    If GM decides not to use the exemption for this line, it should 
formally notify the agency. If such a decision is made, the line must 
be fully marked according to the requirements under 49 CFR parts 541.5 
and 541.6 (marking of major component parts and replacement parts).
    NHTSA notes that if GM wishes in the future to modify the device on 
which this exemption is based, the company may have to submit a 
petition to modify the exemption. Part 543.7(d) states that a part 543 
exemption applies only to vehicles that belong to a line exempted under 
this part and equipped with the antitheft device on which the line's 
exemption is based. Further, part 543.9(c)(2) provides for the 
submission of petitions ``to modify an exemption to permit the use of 
an antitheft device similar to but differing from the one specified in 
that exemption.''
    The agency wishes to minimize the administrative burden that part 
543.9(c)(2) could place on exempted vehicle manufacturers and itself. 
The agency did not intend in drafting part 543 to require the 
submission of a modification petition for every change to the 
components or design of an antitheft device. The significance of many 
such changes could be de minimis. Therefore, NHTSA suggests that if the 
manufacturer contemplates making any changes, the effects of which 
might be characterized as de minimis, it should consult the agency 
before preparing and submitting a petition to modify.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 33106; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50.

    Issued on: March 1, 2011.
Joseph S. Carra,
Acting Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2011-5112 Filed 3-7-11; 8:45 am]
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