The carmakers see little to no difference as safety is concerned when it comes to cars sold in Europe or the States, but they have struggled to win over regulators, who are wary of an industry push to make safety standards interchangeable across the Atlantic through a free-trade deal.
Now the car companies are asking academics to help them press their case. This week lobbyists for U.S. and European automakers enlisted the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and SAFER, a transportation research group at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, to find common ground between U.S. and European Union standards.
“Regulators tend to believe that their standards are the best. They have ‘not-invented-here syndrome,’ ” said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington D.C.-based lobbying group whose members include General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen. “We want to show them that our standards may differ in some modest ways, but the ones that we’re looking at harmonizing are essentially equivalent.”
Automakers say that if regulators were to accept equivalent standards from their counterparts across the Atlantic, the companies could trim hundreds of millions of dollars in costs. They are investing heavily in global platforms to improve efficiency, but cars sold globally, such as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, must still be re-engineered multiple times to satisfy crash-test standards around the world.
The research initiative will be announced tomorrow at a meeting at which industry groups, regulators and trade negotiators will discuss the proposed U.S.-EU trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Via Automotive News Europe