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HQ 954173


CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 954173 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8709.19.00

Marshall V. Miller, Esq.
Miller & Company P.C.
91 Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64105

RE: Mule Utility Vehicle: Works Truck With Special Design Features, Vehicle Used in Factories, Warehouses, Etc., for Short Distance Transport; Motor Vehicles Principally Designed for the Transport of Persons, Heading 8703; Motor Vehicles for the Transport of Goods, Heading 8704; HQ 953715

Dear Sir:

In your letter of April 27, 1993, on behalf of Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., you inquire as to the tariff classification of the Mule utility vehicle from Japan.


The vehicles in issue are the Mule models 500, 1000, 2510 and 2520. Each is a wheeled vehicle with steel chassis and frame, having the following dimensions and capacities:

Mule 500 Mule 1000 Mule 2510 Mule 2520
Length 98.4 in. 108.7 in. 112 in. 112 in. Width 49.6 in. 51.8 in. 57.5 in. 57.5 in. Weight 662 lbs. 1,065 lbs. 1,184 lbs. 1,105 lbs. Wheelbase 59.8 in. 70.3 in. 73.6 in. 73.6 in. Turn Radius 10.5 ft. 13.5 ft. 11.2 ft. 11.2 ft. Max Speed 20 mph. 25 mph. 25 mph. 15 mph. Fuel Tank 4.2 gal. 4.5 gal. 5.3 gal. 5.3 gal.

These vehicles have 4-stroke engines and 3-speed transmissions. They have open cabs with protective roll bar frames, bench seating to accommodate the driver and one passenger, no doors, windows, windshield or roof, and a small cargo box in the rear. It has no lifting or handling capabilities. You state that because it lacks turn signals, hazard warning lights and rear view mirrors, the Mule is an off-road vehicle which cannot be - 2 -
licensed for street or highway use. You state further that standard street or highway tires are unavailable for this vehicle.

You maintain that the Mule's unique dimensions dedicate it for use as a small, agile work vehicle suitable for use in warehouses, manufacturing plants and industrial applications. You conclude that the Mule is a self-propelled works truck of the type provided for in heading 8709.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8703.21.00 [m]otor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons: Other vehicles, with spark-ignition, internal combustion reciprocating piston engines:
Of a cylinder capacity not exceeding 1,000 cc...2.5 percent

8704.31.00 Motor vehicles for the transport of goods: Other, with spark-ignition internal combustion piston engine: G.V.W. not exceeding 5 metric tons...25 percent under heading 9903.87.00

8709.19.00 Works trucks, self-propelled...of the type used in factories, warehouses, dock areas or airports for short distance transport of goods: Vehicles: Other...Free


Whether the Mule is a works truck of heading 8709.


Merchandise is classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 states in part that for legal purposes, classification shall be determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6.

The Harmonized Commodity Description And Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the Customs Cooperation Council's official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding on the contracting parties, and - 3 -
therefore not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the notes should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80.

The provisions of heading 8709 are governed by "use." Group Italglass U.S.A. v. United States, Slip Op. 93-46, dated March 29, 1993, and related cases. The standard in this case is the principal use of the class or kind of vehicles to which the Mule belongs.

The submitted literature does not delineate the environs in which the Mule can be used. However, relevant ENs at. p. 1433 state that the goods of heading 8709 are self-propelled vehicles of the types used in factories, warehouses, dock areas or airports for the short distance transport of various loads (goods or containers) or, on railway station platforms, to haul small trailers. The main features common to vehicles of heading 8709 which generally distinguish them from the vehicles of heading 87.03 or heading 87.04 are as follows: their construction and design features make them unsuitable for the transport of passengers or for the transport of goods by road or other public ways; their top speed when laden is generally not more than 30 to 35 km/h.; their turning radius is approximately equal to the length of the vehicle itself; they usually lack a closed driving cab; they are fitted, for example, with a platform or container on which the goods are loaded; and, certain types may be equipped with a protective frame over the driver's seat.

Each of the four Mule utility vehicle models has a turning radius from 22 to 54 inches longer than its length, and the top speed of the models 1000 and 2510, when fully laden, is slightly in excess of the 35 km/h maximum allowed. However, the ENs state that these variables are only approximations. The vehicles otherwise conform to the cited ENs.

The Mule vehicles here are to be distinguished from similar vehicles with tracks instead of wheels which were the subject of HQ 953715, dated July 16, 1993. This was a design feature which we stated suggested substantial off-road uses in rocky and hilly terrain such as farms, public lands, forests, golf courses, mines or quarries above and below ground. In that case, we were unable to document principal use in the environs encompassed by heading 8709.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the Mule utility vehicle models 500, 1000, 2510 and 2520 belong to a class or kind of works trucks provided for in heading 8709. They are classifiable in subheading 8709.19.00, HTSUS, entitled to entry free of duty. - 4 -

This ruling is based on the evidence available to us at this time. As additional information on the use or uses of these vehicles comes to our attention, we may have cause to reevaluate our position.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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