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HQ 964843

JANUARY 30, 2002

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 964843 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8501.10.40

Lawrence M. Friedman
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
303 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60601

RE: Windshield Wiper Assembly

Dear Mr. Friedman:

In your letter to the Director of Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, New York, dated January 22, 2001, on behalf of Daimler Chrysler Corp., you inquire as to the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), of windshield wiper assemblies. Your letter was referred to this office for reply. Photographs and a partial sample were forwarded for our examination.

You presented additional facts and legal arguments at a meeting in our office on November 27, 2001. These were confirmed in a letter, dated January 25, 2002, which included components that completed the windshield wiper assembly. The list of entries you provided indicates there are transactions currently pending at the Port of Laredo, TX.


The merchandise at issue, designated models 55155894-AA, 55155895-AA, and 55155092, are windshield wiper assemblies (the assembly). Each consists of an electric motor attached to gearing and push rods. These articles perform the same essential function, which is to provide mechanical energy to operate automobile windshield wipers. The motor provides rotational energy while the gearing and push rods yield the back-and-forth motion of posts onto which a combined wiper arm and blade will be attached. The spring-loaded wiper arm attaches to and rotates around a long frame or spine onto which a rubber blade slides. The combined wiper arm and blade will not be a part of the proposed importation.

You contend that the assembly constitutes an incomplete or unfinished windshield wiper of heading 8512, HTSUS or, alternatively, that a provision in heading 8512, HTSUS, for parts of windshield wipers, is the correct classification. You assert that Chapter 85, Note 2, HTSUS, operates to exclude the assembly from heading 8501, as an electric motor, if it is provided for in heading 8512, either as an incomplete or unfinished windshield wiper or as parts of windshield wipers. You argue that, as imported, the assembly is not eo nomine provided for in heading 8501, HTSUS, as an electric motor. You contend that the assembly is too specialized technically to qualify simply as an electric motor of heading 8501, HTSUS. Finally, you cite two court cases purporting to support the parts claim, and an administrative ruling which you state classified a windshield wiper incorporating an electric motor in subheading 8512.40.40, HTSUS.

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

8501 Electric motors and generators (excluding generating sets):

Motors of an output not exceeding 37.5 W:

Of under 18.65 W:

windshield wipers, defrosters and demisters, of a kind used for cycles or motor vehicles; parts thereof:

8512.40 Windshield wipers, defrosters and demisters:

8512.40.40 Windshield wipers

8512.90 Parts:

8512.90.90 Other


Whether the assembly, as described, is an electric motor of heading 8501.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified 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. Under GRI 2(a), HTSUS, incomplete or unfinished articles are to be classified as if finished or complete, provided that the imported article has the essential character of the finished or complete good.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Though not dispositive, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80. 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

With respect to your first claim that under GRI 2(a) the assembly is an incomplete or unfinished windshield wiper of heading 8512, the relevant ENs on p. 4 state that the factor or factors which determine essential character will vary with the goods. The nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods are often factors Customs considers in making essential character determinations. While the bulk, quantity, weight and value factors might suggest that the imported assembly imparts the essential character to a windshield wiper, it is the wiper arm and rubber blade that performs the actual wiping action. The very name, windshield wiper, signifies the critical nature of the wiper arm and blade. In addition, on p. 1461 of the 8512 ENs, a number of articles are listed as examples of those included in that heading. Among these articles are “Windscreen wipers, including dual windscreen wipers, driven by an electric motor.” (Emphasis in the original). This clear wording strongly suggests that the article designated in the 8512 heading text - a windshield wiper - is distinct from the motor that operates it. In our opinion, it is the wiper arm and blade, and not the motor, that imparts the essential character to the whole.

With respect to the parts claim under heading 8512, we agree that Section XVI, Note 2, HTSUS, is the appropriate authority. See Nidec Corporation v. United States, 861 F. Supp. 136, aff'd. 68 F. 3d 1333 (1995). Parts which are goods included in any of the headings of Chapters 84 and 85 are in all cases to be classified in their respective headings. See Note 2(a). Other parts, if suitable for use solely or principally with a particular machine, or with a number of machines of the same kind, are to be classified with those machines. See Note 2(b). The ENs on p. 1225 state, with respect to Note 2(a), that parts which in themselves constitute an article covered by a heading of [Section XVI] are in all cases classified in their own appropriate heading even if specially designed to work as part of a specific machine. Among the examples listed in
this EN are articles classified eo nomine, by name, and those classified according to the criteria of use. Therefore, your claim that under Note 2(a), the wiper assemblies are classifiable as parts in heading 8512 because the heading language includes parts, is unpersuasive. Before your parts claim under Note 2(b) can be considered, the issue of whether, under Note 2(a), the windshield wiper assemblies are “goods included” in heading 8501 must be addressed.

Relevant ENs on p. 1444 state that electric motors of heading 8501 are machines for transforming electrical energy into mechanical power. Among those included are rotary motors which produce mechanical power in the form of a rotary motion. The ENs state further that motors remain classified in heading 8501 even when equipped with pulleys, with gears or gear boxes or with a flexible shaft for operating tools. The ENs also include in heading 8501 “outboard motors” for the propulsion of boats in the form of a unit comprising an electric motor, shaft, propeller and rudder. It is evident, therefore, that while not every assembly containing an electric motor is classifiable in heading 8501, electric motors equipped with components necessary to transmit power the motor produces are included in heading 8501. See HQ 950557, dated December 26, 1991. By contrast, complete automotive seat belt assemblies that, in addition to a take up drum/motor electric motor, include the buckle assembly, are not classifiable in heading 8501 because the buckle assembly is the actual mechanism or device the motor serves to power. See HQ 950834, dated March 6, 1992. Assemblies consisting of an electric motor and a component or components which impart to the assembly a significant additional function are beyond the scope of heading 8501.

In this case, the described merchandise, “electric motor, gearing and push rod” constitutes a combination electric motor and worm gear reduction with linkage. The worm gear reduction multiplies the torque of the motor while slowing the motor’s output speed. A short cam attached to the output shaft of the gear reduction attaches to long rods and serves as the linkage that converts the rotational output of the motor into the back-and-forth motion of the driver’s side and passenger side wipers. In our opinion, the assembly consists of an electric motor and components necessary to transmit power the motor produces. The assembly conforms to the referenced heading 8501 ENs and to HQ 950557. Likewise, in HQ 951543, dated April 22, 1992, an electric motor assembly, consisting of a motor, gearing and push rod, used to drive the rear windshield wipers of certain motor vehicles, was held to be a motor of heading 8501, largely on the basis that the assembly conformed to the referenced 8501 ENs. Again, in HQ 956900, dated July 10, 1995, door lock actuators consisting of a motor and gearing, plus switches and diodes, were classified as motors, in heading 8501, HTSUS, based largely on the 8501 ENs. As this classification has been quite consistent over a period of time, and is established under GRI 1, we find that under Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS, the assembly at issue here is a good included in heading 8501. This renders any parts claim under Note 2(b) moot.

Notwithstanding the conclusion above, we will briefly discuss the first court case you cite in support of the heading 8512 parts claim. In Sumitomo Corp. of America v. United States, 18 CIT 501 (1994), voice coil positioning devices were found to be classifiable under a provision of the Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS), the HTSUS predecessor tariff code, as parts of automatic data processing machines, and not as electric motors as claimed by the Government. In the context of General Headnote 10 (ij), TSUS, the Court found the positioning device to be “more than” a motor because it possessed a frame, a pivoting arm and a bearing in the fulcrum, which were additional components not essential to its function as a motor. As you know, cases decided under a previous nomenclature are not dispositive under the HTSUS. But, on a case-by-case basis they may be instructive, provided the nomenclature remains the same. In our opinion, this case is not controlling for several reasons. First, the TSUS legal note at issue in Sumitomo has different language than Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS. So, there is a change in nomenclature. As such, there is no basis on which to apply the “more than” doctrine to support a classification under the HTSUS. Also, as we have concluded, the ENs, which were not in existence under the TSUS, support a conclusion that the windshield wiper assemblies, as described, are goods included in heading 8512, in accordance with Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS.

In the second case, Bauerhin Technologies Limited v. United States, 914 F. Supp. 554 (CIT 1995), cloth canopies for infant car seats, among other articles, were found to be “parts” of seats in heading 9404, HTSUS, and not other made up [textile] articles of heading 6307. Your argument that the assembly at issue is an integral, constituent, component part of windshield wipers and is dedicated solely for use thereon ignores the conclusion reached above, that the assembly is a good included in heading 8501. This conclusion makes further discussion of Bauerhin unwarranted. Finally, the administrative ruling you cite, NY 882853, dated February 23, 1993, classified an assembly consisting of an electric motor mounted on a bracket, with gears, and a metal wiper arm with attached rubber blades as a windshield wiper, in subheading 8512.40.40, HTSUS. The ruling applied GRI 2(a), HTSUS, and concluded that unattached metal wiper arm required that the assembly be considered a complete windshield wiper entered unassembled or disassembled. As the wiper arm and blade assembly at issue here will not be a part of the proposed importation, NY 882853 does not control.


Under the authority of GRI 1 and Section XVI, Note 2(a), HTSUS, the windshield wiper assemblies, designated models 55155894-AA, 55155895-AA, and 55155092 are provided for in heading 8501. They are classifiable in subheading 8501.10.40, HTSUS. We will provide a copy of this decision to Customs officials in Laredo for their guidance.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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