With a US-EU free trade agreement looming on the horizon, Ford is calling for a harmonization between the US and EU vehicle standards, as well as a removal of tariffs on vehicles between the two entities.
Automotive News reports on some of the positives; niche vehicles could be imported without the expensive homologation process, and production flexibility would be drastically increased if the US accepted vehicles that adhered to the ECE standard as well as America’s own FMVSS regulations. Ford’s Wolfgang Schneider told Automotive News
“It will allow us far more flexibility to produce in the best place,” Wolfgang Schneider, Ford’s European vice president for governmental affairs, told Automotive News Europe in an interview. “Do we need this when we sell 500,000 units of a particular model in a country? No. But you are talking about 20,000 or 30,000, yes, because it enables you to bring in niche products.”
While European car makers and EU officials have expressed reservations about FTAs with Japan and South Korean, the US-EU deal has won widespread support. Ford in particular would stand to benefit, as its “One Ford” plan for a single, harmonized lineup could then be fully integrated (global Ranger and Focus RS, perhaps?).
Worth noting is that Ford stopped short of calling for true harmonization. The level of minutiae that would have to be agreed upon is apparently too daunting for either party to consider, and a likely stumbling block to reform. Instead, Ford suggested “mutual recognition”, which would ostensibly be some kind of reciprocity agreement whereby the US and EU would accept vehicle’s built to either standard.