The president of the International Association of Vehicle Manufacturers OICA says that U.S. auto makers risk being left behind. In an interview with Wardsauto, OICA-head Patrick Blain warned that European and Asian car companies are setting the pace while working together with their governments to reduce emissions and rising fuel costs.
OICA is the world’s umbrella organization of all auto manufacturer associations. OICA also represents the global auto industry at the United Nations. As OICA president, Blain is the auto industry’s ambassador to the UN.
In the interview with Wardsauto, Blain voiced his displeasure that U.S. auto makers who resist the adoption of U.N.-based international vehicle regulations, especially regarding emissions reduction.
Blain sees the July CAFE agreement as a step in the right direction, but only as the beginning of a tour along a rocky road:
“At last, they are entering into the natural discussion. Fighting like hell against technical regulations that make some sense to save the planet is a mistake. I think they have been fighting for too long, and they have been paying the price.”
Consumers are increasingly aware of emissions and fuel prices. According to Blair, American manufacturers are not ready to supply cars that meet those needs, while their Japanese and European competitors are.
Blair thinks the time is right for a truly global adoption of international standards, but he doubts that it will happen anytime soon.
“Twenty years ago, you had mature markets fighting with new markets to accept the same standards because that was easier for them, with new markets fighting to protect themselves. Now, it is more equilibrated. The world is now becoming truly global, so there is a common interest to have common standards.”
While the rest of the world either officially or for all practical matters adopts the UNECE standards, the U.S., and by extension Canada, becomes insular. Exports from the U.S. would become much easier if the U.S. automakers would abandon their resistance to global standards.
Patrick Blain was elected president of OICA in February 2011. Blain is president of the French Automobile Manufacturers’ Association CCFA. Blain spent most of his career at Renault (from 1977), where he held various managing positions. Blain replaced Dave McCurdy who had headed OICA in his capacity as president of the U.S. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.