European and United States Vehicle Requirements
There are a variety of vehicles that are available in Europe that simply have not been released in the United States, at least as of yet. Many of them will probably never be released. One of the main types are hatchbacks. The BMW 1 series, the Audi A1, the VW Polo, and other similar vehicles have been successes in Europe but have not yet seen the light of day yet in America. The reason is quite simple, which is that it’s simply too expensive and not worth it for the car companies to bring them over here.
So why would it be so expensive to bring these car models to the United States? One would think that it would be as simple as transporting them over. The reason is due to the different safety standards that exist in Europe compared to the United States and Canada.
The Different Safety Standards
Most of the world abides by the UNECE standards, which stands for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
The vast majority of countries have signed an agreement to abide by these standards, but there are two main holdouts, which are the United States and Canada. In contrast to the ECE standards, the United States has the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which are also referred to as FMVSS.
There is a considerable amount of debate as to which set of safety standards is better, but most seem to agree that the differences are not that great. In fact, most of the differences in safety standards between the ECE and FMVSS are based on small things.
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The Main Differences
Here are just some of the numerous differences that exist between them:
- First, the ECE makes it a requirement that car companies have to conduct crash tests that meet certain set standards for whiplash, the protection of infants, and pedestrian impacts. In contrast, the FMVSS does make these tests mandatory but doesn’t score their performance.
- Another difference is that the FMVSS doesn’t crash-test expensive cars that are only made in small quantities, while in Europe, mostly all cars are crash-tested no matter what.
- Third, the NHTSA, known as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has banned some of the advanced-safety technologies that are popular in Europe and other parts of the world. An example is the Dynamic Light Spot that was developed by BMW, which is supposed to automatically shine a light on objects in conditions in which there is very little light.
- Finally, the NHTSA has stricter roof-crush tests compared to the policies and requirements by the ECE.
The hope is that, in the future, there can be international agreements made in which the United States and Europe can abide by the same safety requirements. This will significantly aid in better trade and will lead to significantly fewer headaches for car manufacturers. As already mentioned, many of the differences are small in nature so there is still hope that an agreement can be reached.