Would a global vehicle emission standard make sense? After all, as Automotive News writer Richard Truett points out, "Clean air is clean air no matter what continent it blows over." But, while attending a recent automotive industry conference in Traverse City, MI, Truett heard Chris Gundler, the director of the EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, respond to a question about the US and European Union adopting uniform emissions standards, and Gunder responded that he doesn't think that will ever happen.

"The impact of disparate emissions and fuel-economy standards is one of the industry's best-kept secrets."

Truett writes that, at least for policymakers in North America and Europe, the advantages of adopting uniform standards on CO2 and NOx emissions for gasoline and diesel engines just aren't there yet. But there would be clear business strategies that automakers would gain from a single standard, to say nothing of the climate change implications. Truett points out that a global set of rules would likely lower component costs because of higher production and simplified manufacturing processes. Bob Lee, head of engine, powertrain and electrified propulsion systems engineering for Chrysler Group, put in his two cents on the issue. The variation in the international standards taps into engineering resources and slows down the development process, which drives up costs. "The impact of disparate emissions and fuel-economy standards is one of the industry's best-kept secrets," Lee said.

There's a lot to think about here – such as whether global automakers really want tough emissions standards at all - so check out the article for more on a question that really needs to be answered more often.


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  • 27 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      Those sweet people at the head of the major car makers are repeating their behaviour in insisting for years that lead in petrol is good for you: 'The cars roll endlessly off the local assembly lines of the industry's biggest automakers, more than 10,000 a day, into the eager hands of Brazil's new middle class. The shiny new Fords, Fiats, and Chevrolets tell the tale of an economy in full bloom that now boasts the fourth largest auto market in the world. What happens once those vehicles hit the streets, however, is shaping up as a national tragedy, experts say, with thousands of Brazilians dying every year in auto accidents that in many cases shouldn't have proven fatal. The culprits are the cars themselves, produced with weaker welds, scant safety features and inferior materials compared to similar models manufactured for U.S. and European consumers, say experts and engineers inside the industry. Four of Brazil's five bestselling cars failed their independent crash tests.' http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ap-impact-cars-made-brazil-are-deadly They get fatter margins in much of the developing world by deliberately, negligently and wilfully building the cars to far lower standards than in the developed world. In my view the executive boards are criminally culpable for reckless homicide, and should be held to account. There is no excuse for deliberately working to lower standards where they can get away with it, any more than there is an excuse for exporting paints with lead in etc, which happens on a routine basis, I believe. Those responsible should be pursued without mercy and without any time limit.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        Can we do the same thing with politicians as well?
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        @ DaveMart This is an oddly emotional post for you. As you know, I support stronger road safety measures, but I'm not sure how you can hold manufacturers to account across sovereign borders. As long as the world has sovereign nations wish different regulations, corporations and their executives should only be required to enforce local regulations. The idea that one nation should dictate how it's citizens must behave beyond it's jurisdiction, is a dangerous concept, and even if well intentioned can have the potential for great harm. I'm also concerned about pursuing anything ''without without mercy and without any time limit." That's not justice, just vengeance ! A concept that never ends well.
      EZEE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Before everyone starts in with 'those mean spirited radical right wing bible thumping haliburton chimpy mchitler Glenn Beck Republican Party' chants (oh wait, I see below people already did) - this radical right wing extremist doesn't have a problem with a common standard. Where is the downside? We may not be able to compete with slave wages of some countries, or safety standards (lack thereof), but on the environment - some sort of standard really wouldn't suck. It would help to level the playing field, AND clean the environment up! Especially on Marco's bunker oil burning container ships. The problem is - how would this be enforced? China would simply say that they are complying, when they are not. India would say that they need extra pollution while building their economy (and there is some logic in that - as we produced our share building ours) - or, they would want financial and technical aid to comply. If not a global standard, then a global minimum. Apply this to oil drilling as well, as companies drill in the USA, vs. Europe, is NOT even in the ball park of what happens in Africa, Mexico, etc. Those places have continual spills that are not stopped, and are not cleaned up (oddly, rarely make the news either).
        DaveMart
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EZEE
        Plenty of international standards are enforced. Sometimes compliance is patchy, but it is an imperfect world and that does not make any effort futile. Basically they can enforce anything there is a will to do. That is how smallpox was eradicated, by international co-operation. Because it is difficult doesn't mean we should not try.
          Actionable Mango
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DaveMart
          Look at Kyoto. The most important countries didn't ratify it. Even among its supporters, many bowed out afterward. Most that met the goals were on track to do so anyway. Smallpox didn't provide any campaign contributions or hire any powerful lobbyists. I'm not saying it's not worth trying; I'm merely predicting failure.
      krona2k
      • 1 Year Ago
      How about 3 or 4 different global standards to keep us going until they can be harmonized? You'd think the auto companies would be all over the idea since it would save them money!
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      As Ezee points out, international co-operation to enforce regulations is extremely difficult, and often abused to the disadvantage of the smaller and weaker nations. In recent times both Europe and the US have been using the excuse of "international' agreements to force smaller nations to serve US/European interests. Most international agreements result in ineffective hypocrisy. Only those regulations which are in all the parties self interest, have any chance of being effective. Powerful nations like the PRC and India can afford to simply ignore international regulations they don't like, at the expense of US/European trade. If the world can't even abolish the emissions caused by 100,000+ ships using bunker oil, which is a million times more toxic pollutant that auto-emissions, attempting to enforce international emission regulations for 1,000,000,000 automobiles would seem an exercise in futility. Just by converting 0.001% of the world's shipping fleet from using bunker oil, would save the planet the equivalent pollution of the entire global automobile fleet !
      kaylaanna
      • 1 Year Ago
      until I looked at the check which was of $5595, I didn't believe ...that...my brother had been truley bringing in money in their spare time from there pretty old laptop.. there best friend haz done this 4 only about 20 months and just now paid the loans on their place and got a great new Audi Quattro. reference ᵂᵂᵂ.xurℒ.es/qstxq
      Levine Levine
      • 1 Year Ago
      The government adoption-enforcement of clean air standard is not only for environmental objectives but serves as justification for bigger government . Meanwhile, the consequent peripheral parasitic industry provide the supporting battle cry for more environmental regulations. The naïve public only perceives the clean air standard as a noble and virtuous endeavor. They don't see the special interest groups that complicate clean air regulations for their own financial gain. Some want more political power, others want more money from fines and licensing, and still others want steady employment by building an mini empire surrounded by voluminous clean air regulations. With such extraordinary opportunities for the benefit of so few in the name of public welfare, why would any sovereign surrender its Golden Goose for the sake of a uniform global clean air standard?
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Levine Levine
        And here is another example. Yeah . . . it is all a conspiracy for world government!
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      @AM: Nuclear non-proliferation has not had anything like perfect success, but has led to a massive cut back and recycling of US and Russian warheads. I don't think any of us are in a position to sit back and comfortably predict failure, or success for that matter. Absolute success is perhaps as unlikely as absolute failure, but pretty much like life in general, you do the best you can whilst appreciating perfectly well that the result is unlikely to be that you live happily ever after. To use that as an excuse not to try is both weak and foolish.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Chris GRundler.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      It would be a good thing. But any time you say 'global' anything, the paranoid conspiracy theorists go crazy about black helicopters, the Bilderbergs, or Jesus coming back soon.
        lad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        What makes you say that about actual facts provided on this site? BTW, do you really think the Oil Companies will let emissions control go global? Or, that the auto lobby and the Tea Party House of Representatives will allow U.S. Auto companies to produce "the Hundred Mile Carburetor?" How can you say these things when you know Exxon is buying up all the battery patents as we speak?...God!
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @lad
          @ lad That's the problem with most conspiracy theorists, you don't bother to study any real history ! Did you know that far from buying up "all the battery patents as we speak "a, Exxon just sold a swag of alternate energy patents ? Did you also know that it was an Exxon employee that is responsible for the development of the lithium battery ?
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @lad
          I rest my case.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Cliche' alert! Straw Man Alert! And, to disprove conspiracies, I have to humorously shout: "Conspiracy Alert!" Funny spec starts with 'paranoid conspiracy theorists go crazy...' then, "BTW, do you really think the Oil Companies will let emissions control go global? Or, that the auto lobby and the Tea Party House of Representatives will allow U.S. Auto companies to produce "the Hundred Mile Carburetor?" How can you say these things when you know Exxon is buying up all the battery patents as we speak?...God!
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          I think he sorta proved your point, but from a left perspective. If right wing conspiracy types re denoted by tinfoil hats, we shold come up with a term for left winger conspiracy nuts. Just to denote... Interesting side note - I was talking to the psychologist gf (former Miss Illinois semi finalist), and she said (and I have forgotten, as she had this low cut sweater on that distracted me) that the tinfoil hat is a particular mental issue. Obviously a paranoid one, where the person truly believes the government is looking into their brains with satellites and stuff. Btw...she insisted we go to a strip joint last Friday. This could be interesting...
          Spec
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EZEE
          Yeah . . . I'm not quite sure if he is proving my point or if he was being sarcastic. Poe's law at work.
        Actionable Mango
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        I know some conspiracy theorists. Many years ago they told me about Echelon, a project that involved the US and its allies intercepting all nearly all communication. Crazy conspiracy theorists and their tinfoil hats!!!
          Vlad
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          If only it was a less complex world, and simple rules like always believing or never believing mainstream media made sense...
          EZEE
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          (Looks both ways) I know! Crazy people! The government is double plus good! (Pours a glass of victory gun while waiting for 2 minutes of hate)
        throwback
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Not really paranoia. The EU members can barely agree on what is best for the EU and they supposedly want a united Europe. Getting countries with vastly different political, cultural and historical systems to agree on anything is just unrealistic.
      raktmn
      • 1 Year Ago
      Global emissions standards? Based upon what test cycle? LA4? Current EPA? EU5? Japan's test cycle? Heck, they can't even agree upon what test cycle to use, much less what the emissions limits should be after running whatever test. The best we can hope for is that different limits from different test cycles overlap enough that the same car with the same emissions equipment will be able to pass the same tests in multiple markets. The reality is that driving habits are actually different in Japan vs. EU vs. USA, so different test cycles are entirely justified. With different test cycles, there is no chance of having unified emissions standards.
      usugo
      • 1 Year Ago
      There are two simple ways to solve this "hugely demanding" issue! - you tune the cars to comply with the most restrictive legislation of any country. - you make electric cars That of course is not part of most automakers strategy
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