The United States and the European Union each has its own definition of safety and has its own set of safety standards. While carmakers see little difference, the problem lies with the fact that they have to win over safety regulators from each region – thus the push to align US and EU safety standards. To strengthen their push, carmakers have called for backup from the academics, enlisting the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in Michigan and SAFER, a transportation research group at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, to find common ground between US and EU standards. Carmakers claim that if safety regulators accept equivalent standards from their counterparts across the Atlantic, they could cut hundreds of millions of dollars in costs.
Even though carmakers are making heavy investment to develop global platforms to improve efficiency, vehicles marketed globally need to be re-engineered multiple times to pass crash-test standards set by regulators.
“Regulators tend to believe that their standards are the best. They have ‘not-invented-here syndrome,’” remarked Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a lobbying group whose members include General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen. She said that they want to show regulators that while standards may differ in “some modest ways the ones that we’re looking at harmonizing are essentially equivalent.”