The introduction of electrical cars will get a further boost with an international agreement promoted by the European Union, the United States and Japan in Geneva (Switzerland) today.
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "This is a crucial step towards the development and reach out of electric cars. The regulatory cooperation agreement will help to increase the market potential for this important breakthrough technology, contributing for competitiveness and a more sustainable road transport".
The partners agreed to closely cooperate on convergence of regulatory obligations related to electric vehicles in the global context. This will lead to cost savings through economies of scale for automotive manufacturers. Currently they only produce relatively small volumes of electric vehicles in different world regions. The agreement is, therefore key in the context of economic recovery and general cost-sensitiveness of the industry. Taking into account that the rules for electro-mobility technologies are currently being developed on both sides of the Atlantic and Asia, the cooperation is particularly interesting as it offers a unique opportunity to develop common approaches.
Under the proposed cooperating agreement, two informal working groups on electric vehicles will be set up under the 1998 Agreement on Global Technical Regulations. The initiative was taken by the European Commission, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan. The working groups are indeed open to all countries that are contracting parties to the relevant UN Agreement, including India and China.
The first group will address the safety aspects of electric vehicles and their components, including the battery. It will cover the safety of occupants against electric shocks in-use, while recharging as well as after an accident. The second group will focus on environmental aspects of regulations applied to electric vehicles.
The aim of both groups is to exchange information on current and future regulatory initiatives in this field, to avoid unnecessary differences between regulatory approaches and, where possible, develop common requirements in the form of a Global Technical Regulation (GTR).
The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, also known as Working Party 29 (WP.29), operates under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), located in Geneva. It defines a large number of vehicle regulations, covering safety and environmental requirements for cars and other vehicles. The aim of the Forum is to promote harmonised technical requirements which reduce development costs and avoid duplication of administrative procedures for industry and therefore contribute to economic efficiency and lower costs for consumers and society.
The 1998 Agreement establishes a process through which countries from all regions of the world can jointly develop global technical regulations (“gtrs”) for vehicles and their components. It is complementary to the 1958 Agreement, with the particular aim to promote participation of various countries in the gtrs. At the present time, there are 32 Contracting Parties to the 1998 Agreement, including the EU, Japan, USA, Korea, China and India.