Mr. Rufus Jarman
Barnes, Richardson and Colburn
475 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016
RE: The tariff classification of a lateral acceleration sensor from Finland
Dear Mr. Jarman:
In your letters, dated August 26, 1999, October 29, 1999, and January 26, 2000, for Continental Teves, you requested a tariff classification ruling.
The sample is basically a molded, black, plastic, 1 inch cube with three, metal, electrical pins sticking out into a plastic cylinder. When we removed the plastic case and the potting, the active element was a circuit board, about 1 inch square, with several flat electronic devices on one side and a relatively taller cylinder, about .15 inch in diameter, on the other. Per NIS J. Sheridan’s telephone call on March 1, 2000 with Jim Lane, Manager of Sensor Design for Continental Teves, the cylinder contains a movable piece in a micromachine which presses against a plate when the device is accelerated. This pressure results in a local change in capacitance, which, via the other electronic elements, results in an increase in voltage, directly proportional to the acceleration, from the device’s normal output of 2.5 volts.
One of the three pins will be connected to a ground, to a source of constant 5 volt dc current, and to a mini-computer which will read the varying output voltage as a measure of the acceleration experienced.
The assembled circuit board and cylinder is produced by a Finnish firm, which also sells them to other firms, but always as an element which measures acceleration. Continental Teves has the electronics potted and encased and sells them to automobile OEMs for use in the Electronic Stability Program of sports utility vehicles.
The devices replace those with mercury switches previously used by Continental Teves.
From the information supplied, the acceleration experienced could be accurately displayed via an appropriately calibrated galvanometer attached to the device’s output.
Although you stated in your August 26 letter, “an electromechanical device in the sensor’s integrated circuit acts as a kind of ‘tuning fork’ to sense the vehicle’s lateral force”, you agreed in the March 1 telecon that it was not an accurate description. This device is thus readily distinguished from the one in NYRL B86846-109, which classified a piezoelectric sensing element (accelerometer) in 8542.40.0075 as a hybrid integrated circuit with an operating frequency not less than 30 MHz.
Explanatory Note 29-i to Harmonized System Heading 90.31 excludes strain gauges, which fall in HTS 85.33 - Electrical Resistors. However, while this device does output more or less of the input electricity depending on the acceleration, it uses capacitance as its primary electrical sensing mode.
We therefore agree that the applicable subheading for this item will be 9031.80.8085, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for “other”, non-optical, measuring or checking instruments, appliances and machines. The general rate of duty will be 1.7 percent ad valorem.
This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).
A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist James Sheridan at 212-637-7037.
Robert B. Swierupski