Morgan, maker of the radical three-wheeled motoring-car-thing, tells NHTSA that its headlights don’t comply with federal safety standards but not to worry; it’s safe and shouldn’t require a recall and that NHTSA should change the federal safety standard. Love, Morgan.

At issue is the spacing and placement of the main headlamps. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment , Paragraph S10.17 Motorcycle headlighting systems states; “If the headlamps are horizontally disposed about the vertical centerline, the distance between the closest edges of their effective projected luminous lens areas shall not be greater than 8 in.”

The lamps on the Morgan are 29 inches, edge-to-edge.

Morgan says that from this point forward they will install proper DOT-marked headlights as required by NHTSA, but will retain the current headlamps as running lights.

The automaker (?) also asked in their instant petition of noncompliance if NHTSA could consider changing FMVSS 108.


NHTSA’s response:

“This request cannot be considered as part of the instant petition as filed under 49 CFR part 556. Morgan may consider petitioning the Agency for rulemaking. The appropriate type of petition to request a change in a rule is one filed under 49 CFR Part 552 Petitions for Rulemaking, Defect, and Non-Compliance.”

This basically says while we understand you’d like for us to take the original letter and use it as a request for rulemaking, a petition to amend FMVSS 108, we need you to resend the letter specifically asking for that citing a different Title, 49 CFR Part 552.


Morgan’s justification is sound: wider-positioned lights reflect the three-wheeled bike’s width which is important for safety.

Now Morgan has to wait to see if NHTSA grants their petition or if they’ll have to recall 139 vehicles to retroactively install new headlights.