The Truth About Cars » ECE The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 22:36:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » ECE Ford Pushes Congress For Vehicle Standards Harmonization Thu, 11 Apr 2013 16:39:12 +0000

A U.S. House of Represenatives subcommittee meeting became a forum for Ford to advocate on behalf of harmonized vehicle standards, as the US and EU continue to discuss a possible free trade deal.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s President of the Americas, said that harmonized standards would allow Ford to cut costs in areas like design, manufacturing and engineering. Ford is aiming to homogenize its lineup across the globe under its “One Ford” plan, eliminating regional models where necessary. Vehicles like the Edge and Mustang will be engineered for world markets in their next generation, while regional models like the rear-drive Falcon, sold in Australia and select world markets, will be killed off.

Automotive News reports bi-partisan support for the measure. Rep. John Dingell, whose Michigan congressional district encompasses Dearborn, where Ford is based, offered support for the measure, while Rep. Terry Lee, who chairs the subcommittee on commerce, manufacturing and trade noted “positive effects that pursuing a regulatory mutual recognition standard could have on the domestic automotive industry.” Translation: if this goes through, we may just get the Focus RS.


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Ford Calls For Harmonized US-EU Vehicle Standards, Will Help Niche Vehicles Thu, 07 Mar 2013 21:12:05 +0000

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.

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Canadian Government Investigating Price Discrepancies For New Cars Fri, 08 Feb 2013 14:00:08 +0000

Every Canadian consumer knows that when it comes to new car prices, we get screwed. Yes, Canada is a small market with higher taxes. It costs more to do business here in part because the high distribution costs can’t be amortized over 300-odd million people. In addition, things like metric instruments further complicate things.

But then there’s the question of why a Toyota RAV4, built two hours outside of Toronto, costs $2,890 less in Hawaii than it does in Canada. Why does an Oshawa-built Camaro demand a $4,685 premium in Canada? Where does BMW get off charging a $19,300 premium in the Great White North for a 535i xDrive, a 38.9 percent increase over the U.S. sticker?

The price discrepancy issue was the subject of a report by Canada’s Senate. Other consumer items like books and sporting goods were also investigated, but cars were a central focus. Interestingly enough, certain vehicles are actually cheaper to buy in Canada; these tend to be compact cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, which are popular with Canadians and built in Ontario.

Not so for other segments, like sports cars and luxury vehicles. The report mentions that consumers in Canada looking for these vehicles will pay the price that “the market will bear”. Translation: f**k you, we know we can gouge you, so we’ll do it. Of course, it’s the right of every business to set their own prices and earn a profit, which is precisely what makes it so difficult for the government to do anything about this matter. On the other hand, the compact segment is ultra-competitive in Canada, so it’s in the OEM’s interest to make sure the vehicles are priced competitively. But even mainstream cars like the Dodge Charger, built in a suburb of Toronto, can be as much as 20 percent higher in Canada than in the United States.

Some of the suggestions laid out for lowering vehicle prices, like lowering certain tariffs  may help lower the prices, but some experts interviewed in the report suggested that it was doubtful that the savings would be passed onto consumers by the OEMs. For domestic vehicles, it’s hard to imagine the government being able to do anything. Price controls for Camaros would be a farce, especially for a government as committed to free-market principles as the current Conservative government. Ultimately, it’s unlikely that the government will be able to do anything about it, though there’s one “left-field” savior that is just crazy enough to possibly make a difference.

One aspect that got a brief mention was the harmonization of safety standards between Canada and the U.S. Currently, Canada uses the FMVSS standards with a couple minor variations, and the OEMs have long used this compliance as an excuse for high MSRPs. What will really be interesting is if the proposed Canada-EU free trade deal leads to a harmonization between Canada and the UN/ECE standards. One complaint among Canadian car enthusiasts and OEMs has been that Canada’s market tastes have long been aligned with Europe, but the FMVSS-based standards mean that homologating European compact cars has been far too expensive. Meanwhile, Australia, which uses the UN standards and has a comparable market size to Canada, gets all manner of cars that North American enthusiasts can only fantasize about.

Imagine if the EU Free Trade deal opened the floodgates to a whole new swath of product for Canadian consumers? It may not make the Camaro any cheaper, but the amount of available models would increase exponentially, and auto makers would no doubt try and take advantage of the altered regulations to bring better-suited product to Canada. It’s hard to imagine greater overall choice not having any positive effect on vehicle prices. But then again, with things currently as nonsensical as they are, it’s tough to make that call definitively.

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Japan To Set World Standard For Hybrids And EVs Fri, 01 Jan 2010 08:45:26 +0000 American cars need not apply. Picture courtesy

The United Nations UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations is likely to adopt many Japanese safety rules for hybrid and electric vehicles as a global standard, says the Nikkei [sub].

Currently, there are no ECE safety standards for hybrid and electric vehicles. Japan has pushed its domestic safety rules  to be adopted as international standards. Chances for adoption are good, Japanese companies and rulemakers are the pioneers in the field. Europe, which usually dominates ECE rule making, is lagging behind in the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, and doesn’t have much to lose if the Japanese standards are accepted.

The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations plans to officially introduce global safety standards for hybrid and electric vehicles at a meeting in March. The new standards would then take effect by the end of the year.

53 countries are members of the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations. They implement the well over 100 ECE regulations to varying degrees. The EU usually adopts most ECE regulations. By the end of 2008, Japan had included 35 ECE regulations in its JASIC rules. (Quite curiously, the most fervent adopter of ECE regulations is the Russian Federation. By the end of 2008, Russia had signed 123 of the 127 ECE regulations into law. The EU had adopted 105.)

If Japanese rules for hybrid and electric vehicles are adopted as global standards, Toyota and Honda should be the main beneficiaries. They will be able to continue selling their Prius and Insight hybrid vehicles without much modification.

Notably absent for the World Forum are the U.S.A. and Canada.  Many other countries, even if not formally participating in the 1958 agreement, recognize the ECE Regulations and either mirror the ECE Regulations in their own national rules, or permit the use and importation of ECE-approved vehicles, or both.

Hopefully, worldwide adoption of Japan’s standards for hybrid and electric vehicles will entice Japan to adopt more ECE rules. It would be a big step towards a world of internationally accepted safety and emission regulations, a world from which the U.S.A. decided to isolate itself. Which is one of the reasons why U.S. car exports don’t fare too well in the world.

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Chinese Bears on the Loose in Europe Sun, 29 Nov 2009 10:26:20 +0000 Get the skinny on cool bears. Picture courtesy

China’s Greatwall is apparently hell-bent on selling their Coolbear MPV in Europe next year. China Car Times reports that Greatwall has received the ECE Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA,) awarded by the UK Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA.) The WVTA testing covers 48 different tests; 13 on active safety, 13 on passive safety and 8 on emissions and environmental protection. Passing the test makes the Coolbear legal to sell all over Europe and in any and all countries that accept the ECE regimen.

With the VCA, Greatwall has chosen one of the more, well, lenient testing organizations. Others are said to be more rigorous. As our resident ECE-guru Daniel Stern and Wikipedia will likewise confirm, “when an item is type approved for a regulation by one participating country, then the approval is accepted by all other participating countries.” And so, the Coolbear will be let out of his cage and can go ravaging the markets that acceded to the WVTA protocol.

The Coolbear has received massive styling cues from Japanese boxes-on-wheels, namely the Nissan Cube and the Toyota Scion. Thetycho China Automotive Consultancy actually went so far as to state that “the modeling for the Cool Bear was done by a Toyota Scion B, Great Wall did change a few parts however, most noticeable the logo and headlights.”

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