By on January 1, 2010

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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10 Comments on “Japan To Set World Standard For Hybrids And EVs...”

  • avatar

    Its really funny that hybrid vehicles are being given more priority – or just as much priority as Handicapped gas guzzlers.  

    In many cases the Hybrids aren’t much better than the regular cars. For example, if you have an Escalade hybrid or a LS600, you get exclusive parking privaledges simply cause you have that badge that says “hybrid”.

    Almost makes me wish I could trade my S550 in for an S400.

  • avatar

    Having designed electro-mechanical equipment for international sale, my observation is that the lack of harmonization among regulating bodies is a problem for many industries.  In spite of the constancy of physics around the world, few people can agree on how safe is ‘safe enough’, or agree upon the details of how to implement safety.
    It is often impossible to design a product that meets all world standards, however lofty such a goal may be.  Selecting the more conservative standard is not always the only choice; sometimes the design standards conflict and cannot be universally met.
    Although I am not familiar with this particular issue, the US ‘isolation’ from the World Forum may be due to having more conservative standards than the rest of the world on some of the details, or exceptionally high costs involved with meeting the world standards for which it may see no need.  One reason the US has been (to date) able to ‘isolate’ itself is because its market has been so large.  For EVs, this may no longer be the case.
    Unfortunately, politics and graft often become mixed into the problem, and then everyone loses.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Notably absent for the World Forum are the U.S.A. and Canada.”
    It is just a trade barrier. Once Chysler and GM are liquidated, we will be able to join the international body.

  • avatar

    1. It puts one class of owners above all others.  Unfair advantage under the law.
    How is that different from the government encouraging retirement savings via IRAs and 401k/403b?  Why should the government advantage retirement savings vs. an emergency fund or just regular savings?  The law is all about encouraging behavior that has been deemed beneficial and discouraging behavior that is detrimental.

  • avatar

    If the USA joined it would have to give up my pet hate – red turn signals. Also some of the jacked up pickups might have to bring their headlights down to where they did not shine through my over tinted rear window.

    • 0 avatar

      For all of the areas that consumers get screwed over in the US cars aren’t one of them.  The cheapest car has to have front and side airbags and soon ESC.  But the fact that those features are justified under the “cost benefit analysis” and requiring amber rear turn signals isn’t shows that many of the US standards have as much to do with protectionism as with anythign else.  But if that means the cheapest car I can buy has side airbags I can live with that.

    • 0 avatar

      Amber turn signals BFD
      Honda and Hyundai seem to do fine with red. A big deal over nothing.

  • avatar

    The U.S. standards have often been ahead of everyone else’s.  When I lived in Germany in 1984  the Europeans were just starting to introduce lead-free gasoline so they could have stronger emission controls (with catalytic converters).  One of the big debates I heard was whether laminated windshields should be required.  With the increased globalization of the auto industry since then, however, global standards make a lot of sense.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    hm, I wonder if a pure EV parked in front of the sign in the picture would get a ticket…

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