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HQ 084896

October 18, 1989

CLA-2 CO:R:CV:G: 084896 JLV


TARIFF NO.: 8703.24.0075

Mark K. Neville, Jr., Esq.
Lamb & Lerch
601 California Street
San Francisco, California 94108

RE: Laforza four-wheel drive multipurpose motor vehicle

Dear Mr. Neville:

In a letter of June 14, 1989, on behalf of your client, Laforza Automobiles, Inc., you request a ruling on the classification of the "Laforza," a multipurpose four-wheel drive luxury motor vehicle which will be imported without the engine, transmission, and various minor components.


The vehicle, at the time of importation, will consist of a four-door vehicle constructed on a box-ladder steel frame with an 18-gauge steel body. It has a lift-up rear door, windows in all doors and side panels, 16-inch wheels, a ground clearance of 6.75 inches, minimal front and rear overhang, and seating for five (two in front and three in a rear bench seat) in a luxuriously appointed interior of handsewn leather, burled walnut, and thick carpeting. The rear seat is designed to fold out of the way or to be removed in order to provide more cargo space.

The imported vehicle will be incomplete. The engine and transmission, as well as other components described simply as "minor elements of design," will be added after importation. You state that the engine will be a 5.0 liter V-8 engine and the transmission, based on the advertising literature, will be a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and shift- on-the-fly selectable four-wheel drive. The overall height of the vehicle is 72.6 inches, the length is 179.9 inches, and the cargo space ranges from 40.53 cubic feet (seat up) to 96.04 cubic feet (seat removed).


Does the incomplete vehicle have the essential character of the complete vehicle for purposes of General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 2(a), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA)?

If it does have the essential character of a complete motor vehicle, is the multipurpose vehicle classifiable as a motor vehicle "principally designed" for the transport of persons in heading 8703, HTSUSA?


GRI 1 states, in relevant part, that classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes and according to the provisions that follow, such as GRI 2(a), provided that the headings or notes do not otherwise require. There are no legal notes which address motor vehicles without engines and transmissions.

In order to be classified as the complete article, i.e., a motor vehicle of heading 8703 or 8704, rather than as a body, chassis, or part of a motor vehicle, the imported incomplete article must have the essential character of the complete article. The general Explanatory Notes (EN) to chapter 87 describe an incomplete or unfinished vehicle as having the essential character of a complete or finished vehicle if, for example, it is a "motor vehicle not equipped with its engine." In this case, the imported article consists of a chassis frame, body, axles, wheels and tires, suspension, brakes, steering assembly, and interior furnishings. The EN instruct us as to a motor vehicle that is not yet fitted with an engine. We conclude that a motor vehicle not yet fitted with an engine and transmission is not significantly different from a motor vehicle not yet fitted with an engine, and, therefore, also has the essential character of the complete motor vehicle.

In a ruling letter of May 19, 1989 (file 083412), we determined that a multipurpose motor vehicle, substantially the same in functional features as the Laforza, was principally designed for the transport of persons. The vehicle in issue was the Range Rover, and the reasons given in that ruling are applicable to the facts in this case. Therefore, we conclude that the Laforza is principally designed for the transport of persons and falls under the type of vehicles provided for in heading 8703.


The Laforza, although not fitted with an engine and transmission and certain design features at the time of importation, has the essential character of a complete motor vehicle that is principally designed for the transport of persons, and, therefore, is classified in subheading 8703.24.0075, HTSUSA.


John Durant, Director

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