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III. Discussion

1. Encouraging Progress in Development of Technology

In my decision of May 12, 1972, I found that, although no manufacturer had yet succeeded in running a car that met the 1975 standards for the required 50,000 miles, promising new technology was available to the manufacturers which, in view of the time that then still remained for development and testing, made it reasonable to conclude that compliance could be achieved within the statutory deadline. May Dec. pp. 8, 13.*). It is clear that during the 11 months since last year's decision impressive strides of progress have been made by some companies toward development of technology capable of meeting the 1975 emission control standards at reasonable cost, even though the constraints of time appear to make it not feasible to apply those standards for 1975 model year cars.

The evidence available indicates that questions previously raised as to whether use of catalysts might create safety hazards can now be largely set aside. It also appears that the cost of emission control systems will be less than previously anticipated. Finally, concerns over the fuel penalty which might result from use of catalysts have been reduced significantly.

Certain data presented by General Motors provides considerable support for optimism that the industry is on the brink of success in meeting the 1975 standards. Six cars from GM's latest test fleet have completed the 50,000 mile test runs which the law requires. Three of these met the standards at the end. GM App. VI-ll. Two more almost met

7 In this Decision, the following abbreviated citations are used:

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Tr. The transcript of the March 1973 hearings.
May Dec. My prior decision of May 12, 1972.
Dec. The slip opinion issued by the Court of Appeals on

February 10, 1973.
C. App.

The Supplemental Statement of Chrysler Corporation

dated March, 1973. F. App.

· The Submission Upon Remand of Ford Motor Company

dated March 5, 1973, GM App.

The Statement of General Motors Corporation on

Remand dated March 5, 1973. (Footnote continued)

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the standards. This fleet was built and started running almost a year ago. Given the rate of progress in this field, it is reasonable to expect that its performance would be significantly better today. As Mr. Starkman of GM testified, "We are on a very steep learning curve." Tr. 2990.

Test data on durability cars run by other auto manufacturers for 50,000 miles also show a number of other examples where systems have achieved compliance with the 1975 standards or have come very close to doing so. Results for cars driven substantial mileage (for example, in the range of 20,000/ 30,000 miles) contain a sizable number of other cases where the 1975 Federal standards were being met. It must be recognized that other test cars have performed unfavorably and produced data considerably above the 1975 standards.

In many of these latter cases the poor results are attributable to identifiable and correctable problems; in other cases, however, it is unclear whether such an explanation applies. It is also apparent from other data submitted on the basis of dynamometer and laboratory testing that significant improvements in catalysts have been made, making it reasonable to assume that future test results will be better than past test results. Tr. 917; 1322-24; 1356-60: 1423-25; 1496. On balance, I believe that an overall review of test data supports the judgment that solutions are close at hand to overcome any remaining obstacles which might interfere with achievement of the 1975 standards by the auto manufacturers.

The applicants contend that their test results show that, if catalysts are installed on all cars in 1975, a high proportion can be expected to fail in customer use. Indeed, this expectation of catalyst failure constitutes one of the principal arguments that technology is not "available" to

Tfootnote continued)
NAS Rept. the Report by the Committee on Motor Vehicle

Emissions of the National Academy of Sciences

dated February 12, 1973. Ford Mem. The Post-Hearing Memorandum of Ford Motor Company. C. Mem. The Post-Hearing Memorandum of Chrysler

Corporation dated March, 1973. C. Doc., Vols. I-VI - The six volumes of documents submitted

by Chrysler Corporation in response to Mr. Allen's requests made on March 15 and 21, 1973, and set

forth at Tr. 1143 and 2355-57.
EPR Minutes - Minutes of the Emissions Policy and Review

Committee of Chrysler. Tnese are contained in
c. Doc., Vol. II and are cited by date.

meet the 1975 standards. The applicants further argue that ruinous legal liabilities could be imposed on them under provisions of the Clean Air Act that force the manufacturer to warrant the catalyst and provide for the recall of models of vehicles when a significant number are found to exceed standards. Some have also sought to raise a fear that the catalyst will pose a danger to the vehicle and its occupants.

Such arguments deserve careful consideration,

It is clear to begin with that a catalyst "failure" will neither harm the driver nor damage the vehicle. The term is used to describe a situation in which the catalyst for some reason deteriorates and therefore fails to burn the pollutants passing through it. The catalyst then sits inert on the tail pipe of a vehicle which performs in all other respects exactly the same way it did before.

Ford, when questioned on this point, said that the danger it feared from the nationwide installation of catalysts was simply that they would not control pollution as they should, and that Ford Motor Company would be exposed to legal liability in consequence. Tr. 2191-93. General Motors was even more emphatic. Tr. 2431-2437. Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences testified that in expressing reservations about the use of catalysts it did not mean in any way to imply chat vehicles in which the catalyst failed would not be safe and would not operate properly. Tr. 1605-06.

The only form of catalyst failure that any manufacturer suggested might be dangerous was melting. This can occur when the catalyst is supplied with an overdose of unburned hydrocarbons or carbon monoxide (caused, for example, by a failed spark plug) which overheats the catalyst due to higher temperature of combustion going on inside it. However, the only manufacturer of catalyst containers who testified stated that his company was willing to warrant that any such melting failure would not burn through the outside can if his company had supplied it, and that the outside of the can would not even get dangerously hot. Tr. 1541, 1550-51 (Walker Manufacturing Co.) Similarly, Ford testified that their catalyst containers had an adequate margin of safety against such failures. Tr. 286-87.

In my view such a record is clearly enough to outweigh a few recitals of testing mishaps, Tr. 384, 875, an asserted

94-492 0 - 13 - pt. 1 - 2

lack of sufficient knowledge by American Motors, Tr. 2363-64, and the perpetual fears of Chrysler. Tr. 2289-93. (Chrysler's expressed fears are contradicted by its own submission, which states: "When ['catastrophic failure'l occurs, there is no indication to the driver of the failure, except that in some cases the vehicle actually drives better and fuel economy may improve." C. App. p. I-34.)

It is difficult if not impossible to determine now what frequency of catalyst failure should be anticipated when catalysts are put into mass production and installed on cars for regular use. A substantial incidence of catalyst "failure" has been experienced by auto manufacturers in various testing programs. Claimed failure rates in the range of 10 to 20 percent have been made and Chrysler says it experienced failure rates "up to 40 percent."

In many cases, however, it appears that the auto companies have attempted to represent any physical damage to the catalyst as a "failure. In fact, a comparison of five melted or cracked catalysts from Riverside West (all claimed as "failures" by Ford, see F. App. Table 4-6) with fourteen unfailed catalysts that is made in the "Failure Analysis" section of the Technical Appendix indicates that the physical damage had no statistically significant effect on catalytic activity.

Chrysler data was not sufficient for such a comparison. It may be noted, however, that the dramatically "failed" catalyst portrayed in C. App. Appendix G. pp. 19-20 was tested after the extensive melting depicted had occurred and found to have conversion efficiencies of 70% for HC and 908 for CO.

The Technical Appendix also gives a detailed breakdown of the number of emissions failures due to engine malfunctions of a type that can be expected not to occur in production cars, and of the number of catalytic failures that appear to have been cured by technical advances (for example the "clamshell" mounting Chrysler has developed) or to have resulted from failure to use the most advanced system (for example, the lack of heat resistant ignition wires in Ford's Riverside West program).

It appears that the test cycles on which Chrysler ran catalysts are designed to overstress engine components so they


will show their weak points quickly, and that in the past
vehicles run on these cycles have had component failure rates
about ten times higher than in the field. Tr. 368, 418-19,
229, 2301, 2306-07. Many of these failures, moreover, have
been associated with engine malfunctions of a type which the
manufacturers generally admit will not occur often in normal

Tr. 76-77, 416. See also Tr. 2959. Future experience
with catalyst failure is also likely to be reduced as a
result of improvements in heat resistance properties of
catalysts, and progress in developing overtemperature protec-
tion devices. Consequently, it now appears probable that the
overall effectiveness of catalysts installed in production
vehicles will be reduced only within relatively narrow limits
as a result of catalyst failure.

Overall, catalysts are highly effective pollutioncontrol devices. Even a mediocre catalyst can be expected to destroy 80 percent of the carbon monoxide and about 50 percent of the hydrocarbons that pass through it.


Nor do the costs for the degree of emission control appear excessive. According to estimates in the 1973 NAS Report, with which my staff generally agrees, a 1975 model catalyst equipped car can be expected to cost about $160 more than the emission control system on a 1973 model. About $57 of this cost will be accounted for by the catalyst. NAS Report Table 5.2, pps. 90-93. Although additional costs to the consumer will result from the need to use unleaded fuel to avoid catalyst poisoning, unleaded fuel also is expected to create savings in maintenance costs which will be approximately equal to the costs resulting from removal of lead from fuel.

In summary, the development of technology to date, as reflected in the testimony and documents presented in these proceedings, holds promise for meeting the 1975 standards. In particular, catalyst devices now clearly appear to be effective, durable and reasonably inexpensive.

2. Evaluation of Whether Technology is Available

to Meet the 1975 Standards.

The initial question raised by these applications is whether "effective" control technology is "available" to achieve compliance with the Federal 1975 standards with respect to 1975 model year vehicles. As previously indicated, a

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