By on November 2, 2011

The president of the International Association of Vehicle Manufacturers OICA says that U.S. auto makers risk being left behind. In an interview with Wardsauto, OICA-head Patrick Blain warned that European and Asian car companies are setting the pace while working together with their governments to reduce emissions and rising fuel costs.

OICA is the world’s umbrella organization of all auto manufacturer associations. OICA also represents the global auto industry at the United Nations. As OICA president, Blain is the auto industry’s ambassador to the UN.

In the interview with Wardsauto, Blain voiced his displeasure that U.S. auto makers who resist the adoption of U.N.-based international vehicle regulations, especially regarding emissions reduction.

Blain sees the July CAFE agreement as a step in the right direction, but only as the beginning of a tour along a rocky road:

“At last, they are entering into the natural discussion. Fighting like hell against technical regulations that make some sense to save the planet is a mistake. I think they have been fighting for too long, and they have been paying the price.”

Consumers are increasingly aware of emissions and fuel prices. According to Blair, American manufacturers are not ready to supply cars that meet those needs, while their Japanese and European competitors are.

Blair thinks the time is right for a truly global adoption of international standards, but he doubts that it will happen anytime soon.

 “Twenty years ago, you had mature markets fighting with new markets to accept the same standards because that was easier for them, with new markets fighting to protect themselves. Now, it is more equilibrated. The world is now becoming truly global, so there is a common interest to have common standards.”

While the rest of the world either officially or for all practical matters adopts the UNECE standards, the U.S., and by extension Canada, becomes insular. Exports from the U.S. would become much easier if the U.S. automakers would abandon their resistance to global standards.

Patrick Blain was elected president of OICA in February 2011. Blain is president of the French Automobile Manufacturers’ Association CCFA. Blain spent most of his career at Renault (from 1977), where he held various managing positions. Blain replaced Dave McCurdy who had headed OICA in his capacity as president of the U.S. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.


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22 Comments on “Head Of Global Industry Body Says U.S. Makers Lose Their Moxie...”

  • avatar

    “Exports from the U.S. would become much easier if the U.S. automakers would abandon their resistance to global standards.”

    Are you sure you buy this guy’s premise? Ford doesn’t seem to be having a problem developing and selling “global” models that meet standards everywhere, and GM is following that path now as well. Neither of these companies looks particularly “left behind” at the moment. Maybe they just won’t meet with him or something.

    • 0 avatar

      Also, Moxie is best lost. Speaking as a New Englander who has actually had the stuff, it’s an exceptionally unpleasant-tasting beverage.

    • 0 avatar

      Those emissions are mostly CO2 and therefore directly correspond to the mileage numbers. Even on this site the single most talked about subject is mileage and you can often read comments how 38mpg is not so impressive compared to the competition which does 40mpg.
      So it just turned out that the US market lately seems compatible with the wordwide regulations, whether that will remain so depends mostly on the price of petrol in US.

    • 0 avatar

      Aren’t most of GM and Ford’s “Global models that meet standards everywhere” that you refer to developed in Europe and Asia and then sold in North America? (Focus, Fiesta, Cruze, Sonic etc.)

      If we want things the other way around (designed and built in North America to be sold in Europe and Asia) he probably does have a point.

      • 0 avatar

        @Redshift: Why do we care if it’s the other way around? Jobs? Nationalistic pride? Something else? (Serious question.) All the dollars ultimately come home to Michigan either way.

      • 0 avatar

        John: Jobs, mostly, I will admit. While the profits do ultimately return to the head office, my understanding is the bulk of the “high value” jobs are in engineering, design etc. I would prefer for the high value jobs to be in my country (which, I admit, is Canada, but still) vs. shipping all of the jobs elsewhere, and then returning the relatively thin profits on these products to a head office, that then gets returned to the stock holders, which are just as likely to be international themselves.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not hard to design a car anywhere, the problem is that American car manufacturers are using multiple sets of engines in the world to keep prices slightly lower in the US which is really where the argument is going. As long as the Taurus and Impala are using awkward large displacement V6s instead of turbocharged 4s we’re going to lag behind in that we just don’t want to use what everybody else does. Americans as we are are too insular and need to except we aren’t the center of the universe or that we have the right to be stubborn enough to cut our nose off to spite our face.

  • avatar

    It’s all explained in the last few sentences. He worked in France at Renault. Truly the center of the state-of-the-art automobiles.
    In the electronics/systems world the European Union has this other umbrella standards organization – ISO. A bureaucratic nightmare requiring written procedures for everything. When was the last time you went to Costco and said “I’m looking for an ISO TV set?”

  • avatar

    “Blain is president of the French Automobile Manufacturers’ Association CCFA. Blain spent most of his career at Renault (from 1977), where he held various managing positions.”

    And after we adopt your precious “international standards” you still won’t be able to sell French cars here in the US, because no one will buy them.

  • avatar

    I’m fairly confident that if Ford or GM believed adopting these standards across their entire fleets would increase their overall profits, then they would have already done so.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Just another glimpse at the hidden agenda behind the “global warming” crusade: 21st century mercantilism.

    Anyone remember the last Renault sold in the U.S.?

    • 0 avatar

      They’re called Nissans now.

    • 0 avatar

      And when was the last time you drove a Renault.

      15 years ago I moved to Europe for a job. 2 years ago I moved back to the States (for a job).

      I will pick a french car any day over anything “imported from Detroit”.

      Even those french cars that we love to hate are years ahead of many of the cars that the Big 3 offer here.

  • avatar
    Extra Credit

    Let’s hope a completed CETA will open Canada’s borders to more vehicles. Canadians of all ages have been diligiently refining their driving skills and are now confident they can survive with the “less safe” vehicles with which Europeans have suffered for years.

  • avatar

    And with all of the fighting, we have cars that get 40mpg from American manufactures, the most efficient full size trucks, and a couple of electrics.

    The problem isn’t with what the manufactures want, it is with what American consumers want. More and more cars are becoming global cars for US manufactures. I am really not sure where he is going with this.

  • avatar

    His affiliation with the United Nations is an indication of his globalist, tree-hugging, socialist agenda.

    The US should withdraw from the UN as soon as possible, and send its headquarters elsewhere.

    I see it as fortunate that US mfrs have a say in how they and their products will be regulated. This guy just wants to dictate policy.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 – UN defenders need to read Agenda 21. The bureaucrats in NY have identified people as the source of all evil in the world and see them as something to be contained. Eliminated is a baby step away.

      • 0 avatar

        I think the US automakers are going to face another 1970’s situation. The price of gas is going nowhere but up. No matter how much we increase supply, the future demand from India and China will far outstrip the demand from the USA.

        And large vehicles are inherently fuel inefficient. I’m hoping that because of the global reach of the companies they will have competitive cars in places like india, china, europe so they will have an easier time migrating to the US market and not get caught like they did in the 1970’s

        Large trucks and SUV’s I think is where they have their issues and outside of the USA they are not in much demand in significant numbers. (UAE doesn’t count, too small of a market)

        And those are what I think should be looked at to try and meet global standards and that is probably what the US companies are fighting, not things like the Cruze or Focus which are truly global cars.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Dave, don’t worry about global growth for the next few years. It looks like Greece is already building the gallows for all of Europe.

    • 0 avatar

      Larisa, Greece has the highest density of Porsche owners in the world. There are more Porsche Cayennes in Greece than there are taxpayers who declare $50K of income per year. If Europeans are reading articles like this one, they may not feel like paying for someone else’s infantile workers’ utopia.

  • avatar

    There’s no such thing as a global car that you can build anywhere and sell anywhere, unmodified. There are differences in the standards everywhere, it’s just that the UN is euro-centric with emissions standards to satisfy the leftist euro-elite. Driving conditions in America differ markedly from Europe, South America and Asia, as do fuel prices and taxes so solutions must be different. The UN’s one-world philosophy is a fantasy that won’t be achievable anytime soon.

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