January 10, 2003

Automakers agree to push for common technical standards

Washington, D.C. – Leaders of 13 of the world’s passenger car and light truck manufacturers from Japan, Europe and the U.S. will work together this year encouraging governments to adopt a common set of standards, or Global Technical Regulations (GTRs), for environmental and safety technologies, according to the Japan Auto Trends newsletter.

“One of the biggest challenges for the motor vehicle industry today is the global harmonization of technical regulations,” said Honda Chairman Yoshihide Munekuni, who is also chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA). Although the industry has made great strides advancing environmental and safety technologies, inconsistent regulations that vary from country to country diminish the impact that these innovations can make, he said.
Munekuni added that differences in regulations are not apparent to consumers, “but for manufacturers, different regulations require different designs, which lead to additional investment for tools and dies.”

The automakers agreed to strive for the “earliest possible establishment of Global Technical Regulations”, which would create common safety and environmental standards worldwide. They agreed to communicate the benefits of clean diesel technology to government officials and consumers. In addition, they agreed to promote the infrastructure needed to support advanced technology vehicles, including those powered by hybrid-electric, diesel, fuel cell and hydrogen-combustion engines.

In 1998, the United Nations endorsed the establishment of harmonized vehicle regulations, but the organization has yet to establish a single GTR in the two years since the agreement went into effect. The decision to support the UN effort is aimed at moving this process forward.

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