By on June 17, 2013

Picture courtesy frontlineclub.com

Some folks still desperately stick to the fairy tale that the Japanese car market is closed. The same people became excited when European carmakers  complained about different Japanese technical regulations – something that was sold as “proof” for Japan walling up its market against foreign imports.  The same people claim the U.S. market is open wider than the happy hooker. Not if you ask European carmakers again. Said the European carmaker association ACEA:

“Current US auto non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are equivalent to an ad valorem tariff of about 26%. The elimination of tariffs and just a quarter of existing NTBs would increase EU vehicle and parts exports to the US by 149% for the period 2017-2027.”

The ACEA made this comment after the EU formally agreed to negotiate a trade pact with the U.S.

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103 Comments on “America Is A Walled-Up Car Market, Europeans Say...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Just because we want our cars to be a little safer and cleaner then the rest of the world, doesn’t exactly merit a label like “walled-up”… if that is what is meant by “NTBs”

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      They’re not “safer”, just different for difference’s sake. We’re approaching a tipping point where the costs of adapting a UNECE-compliant vehicle to FMVSS is more than the manufacturers are willing to pay for.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        Contrary oems can make a vehicle that can be sold in the same place with the same parts. The problem is they are too lazy to do so. Somehow they figure it costs less to make everything different.

        Lighting can be made that works both places. ECE allows the retro reflectors / side markers we require, there already exits are harmonized beam pattern, us allows amber turns, and rear fog lights, our cars would need side turn signal repeaters which we can have and are allowed, our front parking lamps would have to white instead of the usual amber which is allowed in us regulations but isn’t very common. Chrysler has been doing this for ages so its clearly possible. I looked over a grand Cherokee we have everything is ecode, and dot. Even the glass.

        A car can be made to meet both crash standards. The only big difference i see is the us requires the WORD brake, and not the ISO brake symbol, but so do Canadian standards. Most cars i know have the ISO brake symbol along with the word brake.

        Cars here i believe can also be sold with predominate metric speedometer as long as they have mph also.

        The only area i see our standards are superior is retro reflectors which are allowed under European standards but, most companies can’t be bothered to add extra safety items.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          Canadian instrument panel standards do not require words like “BRAKE” or “CRUISE” or “LIGHT”. Apparently we are able to understand icons.

          The crash testing standards are quite different. A car can be made to meet both, but it will cost more, and thus make it less competitive (hence the NTB).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The US does not require those words either. All Buicks have that cruise icon with the little arrow. This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            It’d be nice if the US would get the “low washer fluid light” you Canadians get! I always forget to check it..and run out on a packed freeway where pulling over isn’t a good option! (And I normally don’t carry a jug in the trunk, anyway!)

      • 0 avatar
        drewtam

        The US EPA does in fact have stricter diesel emissions requirements for on road use than the EU, and has been that way for decades. Last time I looked, those emissions targets will be aligned sometime around 2014 or 2016. I did not check, but I suspect the test procedure and regulatory details will probably still be different.

        If I understood the regs right, the US EPA basically requires compression ignition and spark ignition engines for light passenger vehicles to hit the same emissions targets. The EU was more lax with diesel emissions, but continues to tighten down to where it is approaching the US EPA.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          Yes true. Euro 6 diesel and gas emissions are very close to the epa ones. Most probably just required a simple software change while using the same emissions hardware. I doubt that is as big of a point of contention.

          The lighting standards are the big difference and i was showing that those can be made to meet both standards with the same equipment.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, I don’t think that American-specced vehicles are safer than European ones. If anything, the Euro-specs are what drove American cars to be made safer all across the board.

        For instance, I prefer Euro-style windshields that can disintegrate into small balls off glass instead of the laminated US windshields that break into shards when they are shattered.

        I also prefer the light-radiating patterns of the Euro-style headlights, something that both the Asian and US specs have adopted.

        And then there’s the durability engineering of the Euros that is designed to run their vehicles wide-open on the autobahns all day where the US vehicles are designed to run 65mph all day without blowing up on US Interstates with heavy speed regulation limitations.

        We saw this durability trend widely adopted first by Toyota and Honda in the eighties when they put such drive trains in vehicles destined for the US that would rarely be driven over 65mph for any length of time.

        That’s one reason why the Japanese cars became so popular in the US because they were reliable and durable, which resulted in the mass-migration and exodus away from US brand domestic cars towards the imports and transplants with the better specs and better products.

        To this day, the boring, staid and otherwise unremarkable Camry remains America’s best-selling sedan — but those who can afford it opt for the better engineered vehicles from Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and even VW.

        The only exception would be the crap cars from Fiat. Were it not for Daimler’s hand in the R&D of the hottest, best-selling Chrysler-line of products, we would not be talking Fiatsler in any civilized automotive discussion.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          I’ve never seen a us windows shatter. As its laminated it stay together even when broken.

          I don’t think they made our cars safer. Consumer demand did. You can still design a cheap car that will be completely legal but do horrible in crash tests. It just doesn’t sell to have a car that will kill you.

          Like i said parts of the us standard are better, and vice versa. It isn’t cut and dry.

          On upcoming and future standards nthsa does work with un ece so they can standardize before things get settled in.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Try going through the US-specced windshield with your head or any other part of your body during a collision and see what the lamination does for you.

            Maybe I should say “to you”.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Is it even possible for the passenger compartment to deform badly enough to move the seat that close to the windshield and still allow any passengers to survive regardless of windshield construction? Seems hard to imagine.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          ……Yeah, I don’t think that American-specced vehicles are safer than European ones. If anything, the Euro-specs are what drove American cars to be made safer all across the board…..

          No, Federal safety standards, NHTSA, IIHS, and the hatred for mandated passive restraints drove US makers, and foreign makers who wanted to sell here, to make safer cars. Did Euro cars lead the curve? In some instances yes, other no. Certainly the Japanese lagged everybody in the beginning of the import invasion.

          ….I also prefer the light-radiating patterns of the Euro-style headlights, something that both the Asian and US specs have adopted…..

          Yep, I agree. The old sealed beam dinosaur should have been extinct decades ago. I believe that was more the doing of the DOT than Detroit.

          …..And then there’s the durability engineering of the Euros that is designed to run their vehicles wide-open on the autobahns…..

          Well, that’s a mixed bag for sure. European speeds certainly gave a big advantage in terms of brakes, suspension design, and the ability to run high rpms. No argument there. But in terms of reliability I can’t say that I agree if we are talking European autos for the last 30 or so years. Certain vehicles, like old school Mercedes certainly win the durability race. But old school BMWs were known as “Bring Me a Wrecker” or “Breakdown Motor Works”. VW was a mixed bag, British, French, Italian, well, never mind. The data does not support a broad all encompassing statement that cars from the Continent were universally superior in terms of durability and reliability – they weren’t.

          A Camry represents a careful balance of design for durability and cost cutting in terms of material and execution. And Toyota did a perfect job in the minds of consumers. The superior build quality and design has been compromised compared to their high water mark of the mid 90s yet they did so without a loss in reliability. This is where the domestics failed during the late 70s through the mid 90s. Too much was sacrificed to cost at the expense of reliability….just as it was when Mercedes decided to build to price points. Quality and reliability plummeted. Short sighted business decisions are not solely the territory of Corporate America.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Agreed, until you cited the Camry. I know several former Japan-built Camry owners who switched away from Camry after they started making them in the US.

            Our 2008 Japan-built Highlander Limited has been flawless, but not so the US-built 2009, 2010 and 2011 Highlanders that belong to my wife’s sisters.

            Mr Toyoda publicly apologized before Congress and people of the US for the drastic drop in quality of Toyota products made in North America and promised to do better in the future. I hope he makes good on it.

            I also have no doubt that vehicles made in the US for Mercedes and BMW, along with Honda have suffered severe drops in quality since they started making them in the US.

            The only exceptions are Hyundai/Kia and Subaru. They seem to produce excellent vehicles. It remains to be seen how well the new Nissan venture performs.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            But is the decline of the Camry from its peak the byproduct of US assembly, i.e. the fault of the assembly plant and its workers? Or is it the result of a conscious effort by Toyota to cut costs? When the ’97 new design came out, it was designed to deal with a bad currency exchange rate and great effort was made to pull costs out of assembly. I recall reading how they cut the number of parts and assembly time out of the front clip. In doing so they made the grill look like a Lowes air conditioning vent. This generation often can be seen with bumpers that faded like a GM and paint delamination…something almost never found on the previous generation. These decisions, and many others, were made to create a car with a lower, more competitive price. I don’t believe the choices made had a deleterious effect on overall reliability, but the quality feel that made the prior generation what it was had been lost in the process. Would Japanese assembly of these cheaper parts made the overall car better? Not so sure. I do recall comparing Japanese made 4Runners to US made Toyotas at a car show and found the tightness of the gaps better in the Japanese ones. However, the gaps in the US Toyotas were well aligned; the parts themselves seemed to have more tolerances built into them. Agsin, this seems more to do with material choices made by Toyota than from the workers in the US doing a worse job.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I don’t know what caused the decline in quality although my analytical me would suggest that it is “all of the above” you mentioned. I have heard that supplier problems have plagued American production.

            Most people believe that as an industry, the global auto industry is the best it has ever been, in toto. Even the worst car today is far, far better than anything of 5, 10 or 15 years ago.

            But the competition for the consumer’s money is fierce. As a non-believer I bought my wife a 2012 Grand Cherokee anyway, against my instincts, and am flabbergasted at how good a vehicle it has turned out to be. At this point the GC has been as good as our 2008 Japan-built Highlander. Unheard of, just a few years ago!

            So American-specced vehicles of today certainly have improved. But I don’t believe that they are better than the Euro-specced ones.

            Ideally, as has already been mentioned, the specs should be the same all over the globe, with the best specs being adopted everywhere.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @golden2husky

            I recall a Camry megathread from last year or so and at the time I even dug up the MSRPs between a MY95/96 and MY97 spec Camry. I don’t recall the exact figures but I believe Toyota did not drop the price for the 97s despite the fact they were decontented somewhere in the $2500 range from the previous MY. While I’m sure there were several factors (currency issues, OBDII mandate, US production, US suppliers) I think the paramount reason was simply because they could.

            In her book “Car” Mary Walton writes about how Ford purchased and disassembled a MY93 Camry in order to inspect quality of parts, fit, and finish. They were aghast to learn the Camry shared parts quality with the then new Lexus (model not specified IIRC) and this weighed heavily into their plans for DN101 (MY96 Taurus). Camry went from this well made and intimating, almost Lexus-like model, to being a notch above rental grade in just two subsequent generations. I wouldn’t blame US assembly in this case, I would blame a definite change in management who decided to coast on fumes instead of trying to be the best. Fortunately for them consumers are slow on the uptake and their drivetrains were still relatively solid for the time. If Toyota had also made the mistake to introduce the 90s equivalent to the HT4100 with the cheaper Camry, I believe the company in the US would be nothing but a footnote on sites like TTAC.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28-Cars-Later,

            “Camry went from this well made and intimating, almost Lexus-like model, to being a notch above rental grade in just two subsequent generations.”

            “Fortunately for them consumers are slow on the uptake ”

            So true, and that’s why,

            “All people want is a car that starts every morning and gets them to work on time”

            attributed to Ford CEO Harold “Red” Poling, ties in so nicely.

            Most people buying Toyota and Camry were like Pavlov’s dog, responding favorably to anything Toyota made and advertised, even though it was but a bad imitation of a once great vehicle.

            And regardless of who’s to blame, no Toyota product made in North America today can compare favorably to the ones made in Japan. The whole mentality of Made in Japan is totally different than the mentality of Made in America today.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            If you can see a measurable difference in two otherwise identical cars assembled at two different plants in the modern age, then there is an engineering problem, not a production problem.

            Toyota cheaped out on the later Camrys because they could. Historically the average American buys cars by the pound – the cheaper the better, and the little niceties are lost on most folks if they have to pay extra to get them. Those early Camrys cost as much as a Lexus in today’s dollars. Toyota wanted to sell 500K of them a year, and that was not going to happen here at those prices.

            Now the pendulum is swinging back the other way. The people who are buying new cars actually seem to be going for the nicer interiors and fit and finish and more sophistication. And the average transaction prices reflect that now.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      NTBs are Non-Tariff-Barriers to our market. Things like different crash requirements, different lighting requirements, different, window glass definitions, different labeling requirements, different emissions testing regiments, different fuel economy standards, definitions effecting vehicle categorization, environmental laws relating to materials, and even our different fuels, or electrical grid parameters in the case of EVs.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    European and especially Korean makes have a higher percentage of the American market than the Japanese market. It’s just a fact.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I’ve seen some weird ornaments attached to some people’s homes, but the one in the photo is a little over the top.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Is it a Fiat? I can’t tell.

      • 0 avatar
        DAC1991

        It’s an Opel Corsa A.

        I always thought that the US market was one of the most open in the world. Strange.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes it is a Corsa A. When someone I know received one for free he wisely sold it so someone else could risk life and limb driving that tin box.

        • 0 avatar
          Onus

          I thought so too. But, importing a vehicle that doesn’t comply with fmvss is a PITA. It has to modified and crash tested, and has to meet epa emissions standards.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Whatever would give you the idea that the US market is open? Look at what is sold here versus what is sold in Europe. There is literally NOTHING that you can buy here that you can’t buy over there (or buy here and ship there yourself), and whole broad swathes of vehicles that you can’t buy here that you can buy there. And you can’t buy anything anywhere else (new) and ship it here and drive it on the road legally without draconian requirements.

          At one time, the US market was the BIG DOG in the world of auto sales. That is no longer the case and getting to be less so all the time. To the point that our own domestic makers don’t want to deal with all the different standards anymore, because even they want to sell the EXACT same vehicle everywhere.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Yes but to get the good vehicles to there, after paying 40k+ to be shipped, you would have to pay taxes out your arse.

            Pretty much like being closed, considering the few vehicles made in Europe that are worth looking at.

          • 0 avatar
            jpolicke

            Hummer – 40k+? From where, on what? Newark to Bremerhaven is about $1300. Taxes are a different story, you’re right about them.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Is that a European house?

      Is that what they do over there?
      Slap guano over beautiful red brick?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Must be a Photoshop exercise. Look at the brick wall, with a near uniform curve inward. Brick and CMU walls do not deform like that. The break into sections, exhibit step cracking, but curve? No.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I don’t get how they can say there are too many barriers when they A) have such a large share of the market here, and B)obviously have no problem filling up part of every parking lot with European cars.

    Less “NTBs” might bring more cars, but they certainly wouldn’t lower their prices. So why bother adjusting anything ;)

  • avatar
    kitzler

    European cars? We got German cars, Swedish cars, British cars and Italian cars, we do not have French cars, who cares? Probably only a few Francophiles

  • avatar
    Dubbed

    All the government ask is that you build to standards that have scientific measures that reduce unnecessary externalities.

    Just make the car clean not to poison residents of cities and reach moderate safety standards for unbelted occupants. If you can meet those and survive the expectations of the marketplace your gucci.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    CoreyDL, probably why I’ve never liked Nissan’s or will ever drive a Mini, I prefer zee Germans!

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    Here’s what blows my mind.

    Mercedes-Benz NA is responsible for lobbying the Feds to shut down the grey market in the 80s, because they were losing white-market sales of the 380SEL to the grey-market 500SEL that people wanted, but that MBNA refused to sell here for whatever reason.

    So instead of concluding that there was a market for the big Benz and offering the damn thing for sale here, they decided to go crying to Uncle Sucker about unfair competition.

    Why the fuck not just federalize the 500 and make everyone happy?

    Well played, Benz. Well played. (slow clap)

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      “whatever reason” was emissions standards, and the fact that private imports were sold well below the prices that MBNA dealers were charging, thanks to currency fluctuations.

      This was pretty similar to Kubota’s successful efforts to shut down the flow of gray-market Kubos into the US a decade ago.

  • avatar
    vvk

    The US market is very protected by means of archaic and bureaucratic rules that make it virtually impossible to import cars without a serious financial investment. American market cars are not safer or cleaner than European market cars, they are arbitrarily different for no good reason other than artificial barriers to entry.

    The side effect of this is that American market cars are not exportable throughout the rest of the world. American car exports and profits would explode if the US would switch to worldwide UN regulations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Forum_for_Harmonization_of_Vehicle_Regulations

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Isn’t that what’s happening in China? OK what I’m getting from all this is that American cars are no cleaner or safer the others, just a different approach. Carmakers who want to sell cars in the US have to conform to our standards. Obviously it’s still profitable for foreign automakers to do that, but American automakers apparently didn’t see similar profitability, until China…So, how is it that the US appears to be walled-up?

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        China has hopped on the NCAP bandwagon, along with the ASEAN and Australia. Their crash tests used to be less stringent, but they are fully harmonized as of 2012.

        Environmental regulations, though… asbestos…

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Same thing. An american car cab be built to meet fmvss, and ece regulation at the sametime without any different parts. But, very few people do it.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Even if you could, and I would say you can’t or the automakers would do so, you STILL have to satisfy two entirely separate certification regimes at huge expense. There is no reason that a car that is certified to be sold in Europe can’t also be sold in the US and vice-versa. Or even combinations of components that are otherwise certified. As an example, in Europe you can buy a BMW wagon with the 3.0l twin-turbo six, but you can’t in the US. This even though the wagon is sold here, and the six is sold here. But to bring over the wagon with the six requires that THAT combination be separately certified at huge cost.

        I would also say the European requirements for this are much less onerous than the American, as witnessed by the fact that the US automakers do seem to think it worthwhile to officially sell cars in Europe that sell by the handful, while the converse is not generally true. It is also relatively easy to personally import a car to Europe, even a brand-new one.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          The reason some crazy Europeans buy that handfull American cars is mostly because they really really love American cars, really really like to stand out in a crowd, and the fact that with all the taxes on weight and horsepower etc. the modifications or certifications needed for it to be legal here costs a mere fraction of the total price (there are a handfull of Shelbys over here in Norway, even if a new GT500 will cost you $ 250000.) When a car has no natural (production)competition I guess it’s worth it :)

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Zykotec
            Try and grey import a global Ranger or a new Mazda BT50 into the US. You can’t.

            But we can import any American car/truck we want.

            Freedom, more like protectionism. It has nothing to do with vehicle safety.

            The vehicles are probably similar in accident testing.

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    I’m not sure I buy this any more than I buy the Japan as closed market argument. You can self-certify when you sell cars in the U.S. In Europe you have to submit it for review. That seems more difficult to me. The main problem the unsuccessful European brands had here were poor quality, like Fiat, bad dealers, I remember a Peugeot dealership that was literally nothing but one of those metal garden sheds you buy from Sears, and just generally not getting the U.S. market, see Alfa Romeo. Renault even bought AMC, and couldn’t sell anything better than the Renault Alliance here, a car that combined the worst aspects of French and American cars.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They sold the Eagle Premier. Look that one up ;)

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It’s not even about just entire makes not being in the US, it is that we get screwed over on choice. For example, why could I not buy a 335i wagon in the US? They sell the 335i sedan, coupe, and convertible, and they sell the wagon here too. But to sell the 335i wagon BMW would have to separately certify that combination of components, which costs millions of dollars. Which is utterly ridiculous.

      And ultimately, this increases the costs of cars for everyone. Maybe the Focus could be a few hundred bucks cheaper if Ford could make, certify, and sell ONE car everywhere.

  • avatar
    ash78

    On the flipside, you only have to offer 2-3 trimlines and a small handful of options to do well in the US market. We predominantly buy cars out of dealer inventory because we love to haggle or feel like we’re getting a good deal. The US is a far less customized market, with higher volume, than Europe in general.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    CoreyDL, Actually was right after Juergen Shremp bought Chrysler, sometimes in the late 90′s, when the Schwitzer bought a 35% stake in a dying Nissan. Juergen could have bought Nissan, he had first dibs, but he preferred Chrysler, for me it would have been a no-brainer, Nissan design with German engineering, what a combo!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Please use the reply button as intended, rather than creating new comment threads for your responses. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        kitzler

        sorry, I thought I was doing that, thanks for correcting, hopes this one works.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          kitzler, I’ve learned to hit the ‘Reply’ button twice before writing a comment to ensure that the reply goes to the intended party and location in the thread.

          However, in cases of Connectus Interruptus, where the connection to ttac has been lost or severed for some reason and then reestablished, my typed comment either disappears and goes away completely, ends up in an unintended place, or disappears into the moderation bucket.

          Maybe it’s my Opera Browser. Maybe not. I have enabled the “copy to note” feature so I always have a copy of what I wrote should I need it and have to retransmit after the ttac “Leave A Reply” box has gone blank.

  • avatar
    TW4

    The article is ridiculous b/c it offers no context, and it examines the lopsided effects of eliminating NTBs within a single market. If anyone is curious about balance of trade, and openness of markets, just look at the raw trade data. NAICS is a decent source of information, and they monitor light duty vehicles as code 336111.

    Through April 2013, the US is already running a $30B trade deficit for finished light-duty vehicles. We have a $12B trade deficit with Japan, and a $6B deficit with Germany. Obviously, we run huge deficits with Canada and Mexico, and a small deficit with South Korea, but we have trade agreements with those countries.

    The US has an abundance of raw materials, energy, land, intellectual property and skilled/unskilled labor. Yet, we are not exporting vehicles; instead, we are importing vehicles in large quantities as a show of good faith. When our finances deteriorate, and we try to correct the situation, we get push back and political brinksmanship. Same nonsense happens when you take away a teenager’s allowance–outlandish claims of impropriety followed by hollow threats, crying, and incoherent ranting. Eventually, they grow up.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      No one wants to admit America is an empire. Not the Wall Street/military-industrial-oil industry complex, not the subjugated nations and especially not the average American living in the infotainment bubble. Running these deficits with a declining oil backed currency is a subtle way of taxing the EU, Japan, Korea, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Agreed! But I prefer to be a part of this empire on the inside, rather than looking in from the outside.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        That’s the mark of an empire? A nation that intentionally handicaps itself, then imposes light tribute taxation on its trading partners so the empire can go broke slowly? Jeez, the US is out of control.

        If the US were so inclined, it could do like China, and build a hegemonic economy that seeks to exploit as many absolute advantages as possible. We could travel the world, buying up resources and taking them out of the marketplace. We aren’t interested in such frivolity b/c we can make just as much money, and grow global wealth much more quickly, by trading with other nations. Unfortunately, the dawn of the new millennium has been perceived by several trading partners as an opportunity to push the boundaries of economic decency.

        We can either pull a Smoot-Hawley by taxing imports away or we can put a little sting in the tail of our currency and debt so people back off. Not much of a decision, is it? Great Depression and the specter of armed international conflict or we can export inflation to people who like to manipulate the USD and subsidize domestic industry.

  • avatar
    Power6

    I believed this stuff but Onus makes great points up there, what is it really that makes it hard to meet FMVSS and ECE with the same car becuase the signal lights can’t be it. Not when Audi, BMW etc go out of their way to make US models with red-only rear lamps when they could easily use the same amber/red units the world over…

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      1. Emission standards
      2. Crash test standards

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        Emissions standards are different but when euro 6 comes around they are going to be damn close. A software change will be all thats in order. But, if the us accepts euro 6 as equivalent we will be on to something, then in the future it can work on a global emissions framework.

        Crash standards isn’t a problem. The focus is sold here and in Europe. Unlike the fiesta it was designed for both markets. The euro ones doesn’t look modified for American markets and vice versa. It can be done.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          The simple solution, now that there really is not that much difference, would be to adopt a universal standard. Perhaps that would be a mix of the two, as I don’t think we can say one is “better” than the other. Emissions are the easiest to create a uniform standard. Crash standards are a bit more difficult. The biggest thing I don’t like would be the pedestrian standards. Unlike emission and crash performance, I question the value of designing a car to be easier on a pedestrian. Not to mention they require the car to become ugly. Now I know how the Europeans felt when they had to graft early generation 5 MPH bumpers onto their slender designs.

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            I agree. Pedestrian crash standards are stupid even in Europe. Come on you should be being hit by a car as a pedestrian anyway. Plus European drivers are much more attentive than American one with pedestrians yet they end up with the pedestrian crash standards. Makes no sense to me. I feel safer as a pedestrian in Europe than here but, you don’t see me advocating pedestrian crash standards.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      When did amber tail signals get banned in the US?

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        I don’t think they are. Altima still has them. They just don’t seem popular. Which adds to the complications of exporting US cars to Europe where they’re mandatory.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They’re definitely not banned, tons of new cars have them. I have always preferred the look of the amber and red as opposed to solely red.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Maybe if a European car company could make something with half decent reliability, there would be more demand to want there vehicles.
    Without BMW and further back MB, any longer being the vehicles they once were, what reason is there to buy a European car outside of novelty or attention?

    Can’t say I’ve ever seen a VW make it 100k miles without major repairs or un-normal wear items.
    Same cant be said about Japanese and to a slightly lesser extent American automobiles.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t understand why the American perception of Volkswagen reliability is worse than what Europeans think about the same cars. In Europe, VW is a quality brand. Golf is the best selling car in Europe and has been so “forever”, and VW is the biggest carmaker. Used car prices reflect the popularity of VW cars across the continent. Do Americans get different Golfs and Polos?

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        In my experience with VW it’s not about the frequency of malfunctions but the insane cost of the repairs. My ’87 Scirocco needed fixes once in a while; an exhaust manifold doughnut, a set of washers and bushings for the shift linkage, a clutch cable. I replaced a lot of perfectly good front end parts at 125000 miles just to be on the safe side. All of these parts were cheap and although I did the work myself, any shop could have put them in for a reasonable cost.

        Fast forward to my ’09 Jetta TDI. It only had 2 things go wrong in 75000 miles: the turbo ($3000) and the cat/DPF ($6000). Do Europeans get hit with these kind of outrageous repair bills? Or is this treatment reserved for Americans? Is someone going to tell me that repairs equal to 35% of the car’s purchase price within 75k is reasonable, the “price of admission” to all this Euro goodness? VW got stuck with the DPF cost thanks to our emissions warranty, but the mere thought of having to eat the inevitable next one was enough to convince me to bail out. I can’t afford to own this car out of warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      100K miles is a lot of miles for any car of any brand. Some BOF American vehicles will make it but then what you don’t pay for in repair bills you are suckered out of at the gas tank so don’t get me wrong, there are a few (very few) cars that will make it that far but the vast majority won’t and that includes Japanese models.
      Singling out VW is just plain misleading.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Beerboy12

        What century are you living in? Not the current one, surely?

        I consider 100K miles to be “just about broken in”. Most of the cars I have owned have been closer to 200K than 100K, and I have had a few with 300K and 400K on them. Then again, other than my current Jeep GC (with 155K and running strong), I have driven only European cars bar one.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Pretty much any car sold in the last 15 years can make it to 100k without big repair bills even with poor maintenance. No matter who made it.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Thank you for saying what I was about to upon reading this comment update in my email inbox.

          Apparently beerboy has never visited eBay, to see the THOUSANDS of cars listed for sale, in excellent condition, 10+ years old, with over 100K miles on them.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve got an Acura, made in Canada which has been a “Honda in name only” My BMW is better built and has given less trouble…..

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well to my American friends who are blind. I do agree with the impact that technical trade barriers have on your vehicle market.

    You American’s also miss out on many exciting vehicles. I do know the Australian vehicle market is one of the most open in the world. Just google and look at what is available here, not counting any grey import we want. We basically have and can drive any vehicle available globally, something you Americans can only dream about.

    1. Just because a vehicle has a foreign badge on the bonnet (hood) doesn’t mean it’s an import. Imports are what the word states, an import from another country. This would also mean outside of NAFTA.

    2. The US has one of the worst fatality rates among OECD economies. If anyone challenges me and tries to produce data it I will give you a good link. Even the Canadians are quite high.

    To the bloggers who stated US vehicles are safer, here is a statement. Then your driver training must be none existent. Your high fatality rate is a combination of infrastructure, training and design issues. It can be resolved, we did it over the past 30 years.

    3. There are significant difference in design standards in comparing FMVSS to UNECE standards. There also is a cost impost that will drive up the price of your vehicles. The US has moved marginally closer towards some UNECE standards.

    4. The UNECE is global, not just Euro. Most countries who are non signatories use UNECE standards.

    5. To the numpty who thinks Euro cars are taxed on weight and horsepower, WTF? Even if that occurred all vehicles would be uniformly regulated and taxed, not just barriers placed on imports. Remember the globe outside of the US isn’t one country. It consists of many countries. This is the reason for UNECE regulations, to facilitate global trade. Not like in the US’s case to assist in creating an insular market.

    6. The Big 3 now are again behind the 8 ball. I would suspect Fiat/Chrysler and Ford will support the removal of technical barriers to reduce the cost per unit of vehicle design. The UAW doesn’t support any changes towards UNECE regulations.

    7. I would also imagine the Chinese will eventually align to the UNECE standard as well. Why? What markets do they currently export to? And, do you think they will align themselves to the US?

    7. The world vehicle market (UNECE) is much, much larger than the US market, it’s about time some of this American Exceptionalism is removed, or you’ll end up like the French, arrogant. We are the best and only have the best attitude will not serve you well. It might make you feel better but sooner or later you’ll pull your head out of you ass and see the world, every other country has positives as well. Possibly in some ways better than the US, maybe not as big.

    8. I do expect UAW and Fox and Friend types to try and reduce my comments to nonsense. Go ahead, this area of the global market is like a hobby to me.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      ” If anyone challenges me and tries to produce data it I will give you a good link. Even the Canadians are quite high”

      Provide the link. I’m curious to see how the data is procured.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Here is the link. It’s done by a university, so hopefully there isn’t to much bias.

      http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/papers/fatals.html

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        > Here is the link. It’s done by a university, so hopefully there isn’t to much bias.
        > http://www.monash.edu.au/miri/research/reports/papers/fatals.html

        Thank you, it is a nice summary. A lot of good info here.

        It would probably be an impossibly difficult task to normalize these numbers to make them directly comparable. It seems like a nonlinear multiple regression problem and there is probably not enough data to do it right. I can think of several variables that need to be part of the equation. Like others have mentioned, distance traveled, passenger load and severity/intensity of traffic may all play a role in this. But even these raw numbers are revealing.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Considering the number of foreign built/badged/corporate located autos consumed by the US, I would hardly imply a French-like arrogance or exceptionalism on the part of US consumers toward traditional (big three) US brands. I doubt there to be more US “auto-bashing” anywhere, then there is in the US. The implication that Americans have an “attitude” toward foreign brands simply is unfounded

      • 0 avatar
        Peter

        A French friend of mine is of the opinion that part of PSA and Renault’s problem at home is that the French no longer shop as patriotically as they did in the past. Evidence of this may be Citroen’s effort to make the C5 more German in feel and appearance.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      “The US has one of the worst fatality rates among OECD economies.”

      No, it doesn’t. You can look up the IRTAD data at your convenience. The US is average for road fatalities per km, which is the only pertinent statistic given variation in vehicle miles traveled and % of population who drive. Furthermore, the US never had a problem with fatalities per km, in the first place. The US has been one of the safest countries to drive in since IRTAD began gathering statistics.

      Road fatalities per kilometer in the US trend with seat belt usage rates. People in the US are still hesitant to buckle up, and many of the state with low seat belt usage also post the highest fatality rates.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I’d like to see those numbers. The fatalities per 10,000 vehicles and 100,000 population could be a reflection of traveling greater distances by car and that our car ownership rate is much higher than that of other countries.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          …. The US is average for road fatalities per km, which is the only pertinent statistic given variation in vehicle miles traveled and % of population who drive….

          Would the “fatalities per KM” cover your concern? i took it that way. Without question, if the amount of distance is not part of the death statistic, it is meaningless. The MSM likes to quote overall deaths which is a useless metric.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @CJinSD
          Is your comment American Exceptionalism?

          What is vehicle ownership in Italy per 1 000 or even here in Australia, Canada even?

          How many miles a year does an American drive and how accurate are those figures?

          How far do we drive in Australia per year, how about New Zealand?

          I think before you make one of your feelings known (opinions), use factual data.

          In countries with lower vehicle ownership rates, what is the average load of passengers per vehicle mile? Shouldn’t they then have higher accidents rates if they carry more passenger per mile?

          I think you are trying to live in a simplistic and generalised world. Made simple by you to survive. Why? To justify your inferiority complex?

          How can anyone or anything be better?

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Driver training is non existent. Thats all I’m giving you.

      Here is how i got my license.

      10 question test on the computer. Must get 8 right or something.

      Drive around the block with an instructor, and back into a parking spot.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        This always hits a nerve with me, of all the programs cut so that schools can save money this has got to be the biggest bone-head move of all time. Yes, let’s NOT teach the kids something they will absolutely need and use the rest of their lives and for a few may actually save their lives…Brilliant!

      • 0 avatar
        OliverTwist

        I could attest that when attending the driving school in Dallas during one summer in the early 1980s. Fifteen days with Throwback Thursdays (gory documentary films from the 1950s, showing the real-life rescue operations at the accident sites) and twelve hours of driving on the streets and highways with the obnoxious instructor was all it took to earn the driver’s licence. All at ripe old age of 16. And for $150 in total.

        My father felt I didn’t learn enough so he tossed me over to Germany where our relatives and his friends taught me more about the theories and such. They were amazed that any monkey could get the driver’s licence that easy in the United States.

        In Germany, the driver training is more akin to the pilot training. Three months of class, covering the laws, regulations, theories, ‘what to do if…’ scenarios (something I never learnt at the El Stupido Driving School in Dallas). And three months of real world driving in various conditions and roads. The cost is on the average of 2000 euros.

        The icing on the cake is that if you fail the test three times, you are ordered to undergo the psychological evaluations to see whether you are fit for driving.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Well said, and I am in complete agreement.

      I honesty think the biggest issue with Americans is that so few of them have ever actually left the country and travelled abroad. Seeing how others live can really open your eyes.

      • 0 avatar
        MrBostn

        You forgot to call us fat. Traveling abroad (or not) is not relevant to this discussion.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Of course it is. it is all part and parcel of the navel gazing tendencies that result in “The American way is the only/best way” thinking that absolutely permeates this country. From cars to health care to education. And yet we sink farther and farther towards the third world in so many areas.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @MrBostn
          The problem with the psychee in the US is the fact that only several decades ago the US represented a major part of the global economy in $$$$ and even vehicles sold.

          The US dominated politcally by the size (proportionally) of it economic power. It is slowly losing this influence. No matter which way you cut it you guys have to play ball with the rest of the world on a more even playing field.

          Some are having trouble adjusting to this concept. Some have the view we are Americans and the rest will do as we want or we will carry on like the past.

          Somehow I don’t think this approach will work. Protectionism will only be the demise of an industry.

          Look at Europe/Japan and the US. What countries are in the most debt. And what countries try and protect and subsidise industries?

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        I agree. Traveling is the best thing i have ever done in my life. It makes you question why we do things other than, well that’s the way we have always done it. You also realize what you like, and the things you really don’t like about where you live.

        People can bad mouth the usa all they want but some things here are definitely better. I’m guilty myself because some things are not better and they are worth complaining about and trying to change.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I am as patriotic as the next guy – I love my country. But I have spent enough time outside of it to see how fundamentally screwed up it is in many ways. I’m not saying Europe is better, it’s different, better in some ways worse in others. I would much rather be poor there, but it would be better to be rich here. I’m somewhere in-between so I would like to have my health insurance not tied to my employer, and I would like to be able to buy whatever car I want in whatever combination of options I want.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I just want a Fiat Panda turbodiesel. Maybe a B7 Passat TDI wagon too. They can keep the rest


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