By on March 12, 2010

Japan’s Automobile Manufacturers Association said “hai, wakatta” (yes, we understand) to their government, and promised to “actively support the creation of an international mutual-recognition framework for passenger cars,” reports The Nikkei [sub].

Turns out, the Japanese government is behind the idea to agree on an International Whole Car Type Approval. The idea had been floated in Geneva, and received widespread agreement. No wonder: The Europeans are intimately familiar with the concept, due to their European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA). And the Americans aren’t part of the party. They are doing their own FMVSS thing.

A working group under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (which had long spread to all parts of the world, despite its name) agreed Wednesday to create an international framework for cars. A specific plan is to be drawn up over a year or so. The standards are planned to be ready by March 2016.  That seems to be a bit long, given that the European standards are already in place. But the 6 years give everybody time to get ready.

According to the Nikkei, “the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association hopes that a new framework will foster more widespread use of safe, green vehicles. It also believes that the cost of getting vehicles approved will decline for automakers.” Before, it was mostly the Japanese opposition that frustrated attempts to agree on an international standard. A kick in the rear end by their government seems to have changed that position. Also, Euro/Nipponese alliances are all the rage, whereas relationships with the U.S. have, well, cooled off. As long as the U.S.A. boycotts UNECE, U.S. car exports will not profit from the new rules.

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11 Comments on “Japan’s JAMA Will Cooperate On International Car Standard...”

  • avatar

    European thinking: “I wonder why the damn U.S. doesn’t just adopt our standard?”

    American thinking: “I wonder why the damn E.U. doesn’t just adopt our standard?”

    Unless there are specifications in both sets of standards (ECWVTA and FMVSS) that contradict each other, I foresee a set of “blanket” standards that meet both. At the time the ECWVTA was being proposed it was only intended for Europe, and not that long ago the U.S. was the largest contiguous market for vehicles…and had certain safety and emissions standards years before the rest of the world (some good, some bad).

    This begs the question: I wonder if we’ll ever see the day when all countries adopt one standard for the position of the steering wheel? (grin)

    • 0 avatar

      The difference is that pretty much the whole world (except USA) has already adopted the EU standards to one degree or another, so this global reciprocity of vehicle approval is more about reducing and streamlining paperwork than about changing technical requirements. The USA continues doggedly insisting on having its own special unique different-from-everyone-else regulations.

      That’s why “Why doesn’t the US just adopt the EU regs?” is a good question, but “Why doesn’t Europe just adopt the US regs?” isn’t.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    A non-issue.

    But it is ironic to see the Euros pushing for McCars.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not exactly a McCar, any more than we have today.

      Common standards, even if they included some minor items (like those pesky seatbelt latches) would reduce costs for manufacturers — and make it easier for (especially smaller) European manufacturers to sell cars in the US. Of course, if you feel that all European cars are boring McCars, then you would probably consider this to be A Bad Thing.

  • avatar

    Actually, there are a number of US and ECE standards that are directly opposite of each other.

    For example, child seat latches. US standards require that the effort be high enough so that children can’t unlatch the buckle, ECE standards require that the effort be low enough so that the child can unlatch the buckle.

    Perhaps children are better behaved in Europe.

    Ther are lots of other examples. ECE standards tend to be design and specification driven, US standards tend to be performance driven. Hard to reconcile the 2.

    Which is better? US has by far the lowest deaths per hundred million miles.


    • 0 avatar

      US has by far the lowest deaths per hundred million miles.

      Last time I checked – which was admittedly several years ago – a statistical compilation by the German government showed that the United States had an average to higher than average death rate on motorways (freeways to us Yanks) but was lower than average on surface streets. Could be because freeways are more frequently used for day-to-day commuting in the United States.

    • 0 avatar

      “US has by far the lowest deaths per hundred million miles”

      What the source of this statement?

      Comparing the statistics that I could find for the USA, UK and Europe the reality of how bad the US road death rate becomes clearer. Per 1 million people 123 people died in 2008 in the US as a result of road deaths compared with 98 people in Europe (2006 figures) and 48 people in the UK(2007 figures).

      US UK EU

      Road deaths 37313 2943 38016
      Year of figures 2008 2007 2006
      Population 303 61 388
      Deaths/ million miles 123.14 48.25 97.93
      Billion miles driven 4776.064 312
      deaths /100 mil miles 1.28 0.94

  • avatar

    According to this morning’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2009 had the lowest US fatalities since 1954 – 33,963 deaths. No figures were given regarding total population, total miles driven, etc. Most of the article was taken up by giving credit to 84% seat belt use, better vehicle crash protection, and so on and on . . . . . including Ray LaHood making a statement claiming that still too many people are dying.

  • avatar

    Total population: 308 million

  • avatar

    Per 1 million people 123 people died in 2008 in the US as a result of road deaths compared with 98 people in Europe.

    I’m guessing that Americans drive a lot more than Europeans. I doubt there are many Euros with a 100+ mile daily round-trip commute; there are plenty in Southern California.

  • avatar

    Highway driving is relative save so 100+ miles commute is not were the deaths are. Also the number of deaths per km is in in some European countries much lower than in the USA

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