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HQ 950513

FEBRUARY 11, 1992

CLA-2:CO:R:C:M 950513 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 9033.00.00, HTSUS

District Director of Customs
477 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48266

RE: Digital Ratio Adapter; Device for Converting Transmission Speed to Vehicle Speed; Signal Splitter; Signal Converter/ Processor; Speed Indicator Component; PRD 3801-90-001980

Dear Sir:

This is our decision on Application for Further Review of Protest No. 3801-90-001980, dated May 2, 1990, filed by General Motors Corporation. The merchandise is digital ratio adapters from Singapore. A sample was submitted.


The device in issue is identified as a digital ratio adapter/buffer (adapter). It is identified as part # 25073959 and described as a device whose function is to buffer or convert transmission speed to vehicle speed which it then supplies in the form of an electrical output signal to speedometers, odometers, cruise control module, anti-lock brake module, power train control module, engine control module, and over speed warning module, in light duty trucks that require speed information. Because light duty trucks have different axle ratios and tire sizes, transmission speed must be converted to a format that is usable by the components requiring vehicle speed information. These adapters are not required in passenger vehicles because they have only one axle ratio and tire size. Pulses representing transmission speed go directly to the components requiring this information.

Protestant describes the operation of this device in the following manner. A magnetic pick-up in the transmission speed sensor creates an analog signal which is a series of electrical pulses representing the speed at which the transmission is - 2 -
turning or rotating. The adapter receives these pulses in the form of an analog signal, divides or chops it up, then transfers the signal in the form of raw output data to the speedometer, odometer, cruise control, anti-lock braking system, and other components that require vehicle speed input. It does this by dividing the number of electrical pulses in the analog signal by dividers programmed into a circuit on the adapter that reflect a particular vehicle's axle ratio, tire size, etc. In effect, the digital ratio adapter is a pulse splitter that steps down the analog signal to a form that is usable by each component to which it is sent. The adapter contains resistors, capacitors and diodes which protect the electrical signal against interferences from the vehicle's wiring system.

Protestant maintains that the adapter is a speed indicator classifiable as other speedometers and tachometers in subheading 9029.20.40, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Alternatively, the claim is that they are other parts and accessories of speedometers and tachometers, classifiable in subheading 9029.90.80, HTSUS.

Acting on advice from the concerned NIS, you liquidated the entries under the provision for electrical machines and apparatus, having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in [chapter 85], in subheading 8543.80.90, HTSUS.


Whether the digital ratio adapters in issue are speed indicators of heading 9029; whether they are parts and accessories of speed indicators.


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 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. - 3 -

Initially, if the adapters in issue are classifiable in heading 9029, or in any other heading of chapter 90, they are precluded from classification as electrical machines or apparatus of 8543. Section XVI, Note 1(m), HTSUS.

Protestant's claim under heading 9029 is that the dividers in the digital ratio adapter convert the pulses in the analog signal to a useful digital equivalent. It therefore functions to "indicate" speed. He cites ENs at pp. 1521 and 1523 which state that heading 9029 includes apparatus indicating a speed of revolution or a linear speed in relation to a time factor (tachometers and speed indicators), that normally function, among other ways, by means of a photoelectric cell or impulse generator.

We dispute protestant's contention that the digital ratio adapter is a vehicle speed indicator of heading 9029. Speedometers are provided for eo nomine in heading 9029. Speedometers are instruments or devices that indicate speed or velocity or which measure distance as well as speed. The available information indicates to us that the digital ratio adapter does not calculate vehicle speed, nor does it convert the signal received from the transmission speed sensor to a digital format. In essence, each divider in the adapter converts the electrical pulses it receives to an output ratio recognizable only by the electrical component to which the pulses are sent. In this sense, the digital ratio adapter does not function to indicate speed; rather, it indicates a stepped down pulse rate in a format that is unusable. The output from the adapter is nothing more than raw data. A calculating mechanism in the speedometer, power train module, anti-lock braking module, cruise control module, etc. then converts the pulses into a visual image or other useful indicator of vehicle speed. For this reason, the digital ratio adapter is not an "indicator" of vehicle speed and, therefore, not a speedometer of heading 9029.

The seven (7) automotive modules that utilize data from the digital ratio adapter are all measuring or controlling instruments and apparatus of chapter 90. Parts and accessories of such instruments are classifiable in accordance with Chapter 90, note 2, HTSUS.

The digital ratio adapter is not a "good" included in any heading of chapter 84, 85, 90 or 91. Chapter 90, note 2(a), HTSUS. To be regarded as part of a speed indicator, there must be evidence of sole or principal use. Protestant states that all light duty trucks have speedometers, odometers and engine control modules. However, the remaining four (4) components that utilize - 4 -
data from the digital ratio adapter are optional. These options, when selected, require the use of a digital ratio adapter. Speedometers and odometers are provided for in heading 9029. Engine control modules are provided for in heading 9032, as are the remaining modules. The available evidence does not permit us to establish a principal use. Chapter 90, note 2(b), HTSUS. All other parts and accessories are to be classified in heading 9033. Chapter 90, note 3(c), HTSUS.


Under the authority of GRI 1, the digital ratio adapter is provided for in heading 9033,00.00, HTSUS, parts and accessories for machines, appliances, instruments or apparatus of chapter 90.

Because the rate of duty under the classification indicated above is more than the liquidated rate, the protest should be denied. A copy of this decision should be attached to the Customs Form 19 and mailed to the protestant as part of the notice of action on the protest.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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