The NHTSA/DOT issue Interim Final Rule and Request for Comments Regarding Delay of FMVSS 141 Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
A Final Rule was issued on December 14, 2016 as a result of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 (PSEA). It established a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) setting minimum sound level requirements for low-speed operation of electric and hybrid light vehicles. The purpose of the sound is to provide a means for blind and other pedestrians, as well as bicyclists and other road users, to detect the presence of vehicles that do not naturally produce sounds like vehicles with internal combustion engines.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) and Request for Comments (RC) in the September 1, 2020 Federal Register (F.R. Vol. 85 No. 170; Docket No. NHTSA-2020-0086). In the same Federal Register, Part 585 - Phase-in Reporting Requirements for FMVSS 141 is addressed. This is the response to an "emergency petition" submitted by the Alliance of Automotive Innovation (Alliance) regarding the phase-in and compliance requirements of FMVSS 141 - Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. The petition requested that the NHTSA take three actions:
- Defer the current phase-in period (September 1, 2019 through August 31, 2020) to September 1, 2020 through August 31, 2021;
- Defer the beginning of full compliance to September 1, 2021; and
- Simplify the performance requirements during the phase-in period.
The NHTSA has decided to partially grant the petition by electing to defer the phase-in and compliance dates by six months and denying the request for an alternative performance option during the phase-in. The amendments made in this rule are effective August 28, 2020. To ensure that comments get into the docket, they should be received no later than September 16, 2020 (Note: Date has passed).
The NHTSA concluded that the disruptions to production and testing to meet the new requirements were due to forces beyond the control of manufacturers and that holding manufacturers accountable for these unavoidable circumstances would be unreasonable and contrary to the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act).
The Safety Act requires FMVSSs to be practicable. The hardships created by the COVID–19 public health emergency have made meeting the current phase-in requirements impossible for some manufacturers. While manufacturers were able to resume production to some extent in recent months, that production has been limited and continues to be affected by supply chain disruptions.
Accordingly, the standard is no longer practicable for the effective dates that had been established, which is contrary to the Safety Act requirements for the FMVSSs. At this stage, the NHTSA is not convinced that a year-long deferment is warranted to provide adequate relief. However, as part of this IFR, the NHTSA is requesting comments on all three items addressed in the petition.
The NHTSA has determined that the continuing effects of the COVID–19 public health emergency have rendered the full compliance mandate for vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2020 impracticable. To address this practical impossibility, the NHTSA is deferring the date for full compliance to March 1, 2021.
The Interim Final Rule and Request for Comments are available on InterRegs.NET for our US Federal subscribers and are also available at www.SelectRegs.com.