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CARS 21 High Level Group Report: Comments by the FIA


Publication date: 28 April 2006


The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile through its affiliated national automobile clubs is the representative of some 40 million motorists in the European Union. Recognition of the FIA’s consumer credentials and practical experience in promoting high standards of vehicle safety and environmental protection was evident in Vice President, Commissioner Verheugen’s decision to invite Max Mosley, President of the FIA to be a member of the CARS 21 High Level Group, to work with other stakeholders to define a new integrated strategy for the sustainable development of the automotive industry in Europe. Conscious of this privileged stakeholder position, the FIA endeavoured to strongly promote consumer interests by calling for measures to be set out in a road map aimed at making cars more reliable, clean, safe and affordable - the keys to a competitive automotive industry in Europe. In the interest of global convergence of vehicle safety and emissions standards we also called for greater use of the UN/ECE Vehicle Regulations. The final report of CARS 21 to a large extent reflects these concerns. However, given the various positions of all the CARS 21 stakeholders who formed the HLG, it is clear that the final CAR 21 Report represents a series of compromises upon which a consensus could be reached. The Commission’s decision to launch this open consultation giving all stakeholders the opportunity to present their views is welcomed. Thus the FIA would like to contribute some further views on the CARS 21 report.

Competitiveness

The FIA believes that the essence of the CARS 21 strategy is about achieving a sustainable mobility that is affordable. Therefore existing automotive regulatory standards concerning safety and the environment achieved in the EU represent an important benchmark for consumer protection and product quality. There is no competitive advantage whatsoever to be gained from any erosion of these standards. The draft Euro 5 Regulation in particular should not be a step back from what was achieved in the Euro 4 (the OBD Directive 98/69/EC) particularly with regard to access to technical information which is vital to maintain effective competition in the automotive aftermarket. The Commission has a responsibility to assure the competitiveness of the whole of the automotive sector in its development of industrial policy measures.

 

The FIA believes that the competitiveness of the European automotive industry can only be enhanced through delivering products that correspond to consumer expectations and needs. The competitive edge of the European automotive industry lies in high quality and innovation corresponding to the world highest standards in terms of road safety, environmental friendliness and energy efficiency. Enhancing this competitive edge is the only way for the European automotive industry to secure a successful future.

 

Recommendation:

- Existing EU automotive regulatory standards concerning safety and the environment must not be eroded in the name of competitiveness

Integrated Approaches

The FIA supports the integrated approach of the European Commission which has been reemphasised by the CARS 21 High Level Group. Technological innovations, infrastructure improvement and behavioural changes in drivers can be combined to contribute to higher levels of road safety, environmental friendliness and energy efficiency while reducing the negative impact on the environment. The CARS 21 report recognises that this strategy does and must involve numerous stakeholders, including vehicle manufacturers, fuel suppliers, road infrastructure managers, drivers, public authorities and customers and repairers. The integrated approach should aim at increasing the economic, social and environmental sustainability of mobility using a range of instruments, including technology innovations, road infrastructure design and management, alternative fuels, taxation, advanced driver training and consumer information.

 

In the context of integrated approaches and synergies to optimise the potential for reducing road transport CO2 emissions reductions, the CARS 21 report has not taken up the opportunity to examine the importance of affordable maintenance and repair of vehicles by customers/drivers. There is no point in developing a regulatory framework to push the demand for and the purchase of ever cleaner vehicles if consumers then have difficulty in maintaining and repairing them as such. A strengthening of consumer choice is also required in terms of who can provide these important maintenance services. This in turn requires the availability in practice of standardised access to the technical information needed for repair and maintenance provided by the vehicle manufacturers. This information should be easily and affordably accessible to all interested economic operators, many of them the SMEs who are vital to the automotive sector and the road patrols of the motoring clubs. The facility with which a vehicle can be repaired either by the manufacturers’ network or the independent repairers is a competitive selling point to which both consumers and vehicle manufacturers should be sensitive. Furthermore an impact assessment should be undertaken of the outcomes if effective access to repair data is not further developed or retained in Euro 5.

 

Recommendation:

- The automotive legislative road map must include an integrated approach to optimising the general reparability of vehicles such that the consumer can choose how, where and by whom the car is repaired and maintained in line with ever more stringent environmental and safety requirements.

Environment

In the car market the development of the fuel prices is giving a competitive edge to manufacturers of fuel efficient vehicles and an image boost to manufacturers that propose innovative technologies in their product portfolio. The FIA believes that the EU objective to reduce the average CO2 emissions from new cars by 2010 to 120 g/km should be persistently pursued as energy efficiency is increasingly becoming a key competitive advantage.

 

In order to enhance the market for innovative fuel and motor technologies the FIA stresses the need for better consumer information. The market penetration will only be possible if consumers understand new technologies and their effects on the environment. This should also be accompanied by the putting in place of the necessary infrastructure needed for refuelling.

 

With regard to new diesel cars, the lowest possible exhaust limits have to be achieved by implementation of the most efficient technological solutions. For example all new diesel cars could be equipped with PM filters.

The FIA has been heavily involved in the development of Eco labelling as a means of providing consumers with the necessary information to make environment-friendly decisions. What is needed is a harmonisation of the various labelling schemes currently in operation in the European Union. Conflicting information is very confusing for the consumer.

 

The simplest ideas are the best and are at the base of good innovation (e.g. seat belt reminders really do save lives!) GSI (Gear Shift Indicators) could be the next innovation. The board computer tells the driver via a simple indicator on the dashboard when to change gear given the circumstances.  This is good for the environment and for fuel consumption.

 

The FIA strongly welcomes the support given by the CARS 21 High Level Group to fuel efficient driving. Long-term analysis has shown that the promotion of such driver information and education schemes increases overall fuel efficiency of passenger cars by five to ten percent, a significant contribution to increasing energy efficiency. A major role is played by the automobile clubs which help motorists reduce their fuel consumption by offering fuel efficient driving courses. This offer should be supported by public information campaigns stressing the benefits of such initiatives to the general public.

 

Fuel efficient driving should be a mandatory element of driver training throughout the European Union.  Learner drivers should right from the beginning of their driving careers learn how to drive in an energy efficient manner. Moreover an important step in improving driver education should be taken by implementing the second stage of driver training. Some Member States have already successfully implemented it. The European Commission should use the experience gained to implement it on the European level. Second stage driver education and training should besides road safety also include fuel efficiency aspects.

 

Recommendation:

- Fuel efficiency sells, energy efficiency offers a competitive edge, and reduction of CO2 emissions to 120g/km is a must.
- The lowest possible exhaust limits have to be achieved PM filters on all new diesel cars could be the solution
- A harmonised EU wide eco-labelling system is needed.
- GSI should be standard in all cars.
- Life long driver training focussed on green, fuel efficient or defensive driving is needed

Road Safety

Advanced safety equipment tends to be standard on large cars whereas it is often unavailable on small cars. The European automotive industry should offer full safety equipment on small cars.

 

Vehicle compatibility is a vehicle safety issue that urgently requires attention. Vehicles are becoming heavier. Heavier vehicles (GVW > 2.5 tons) do not require crash tests to acquire type approval (as was the case with the Jiangling Landwind). The impact on smaller car classes has still to be fully assessed. What is needed is a much more precise implementation of vehicle compatibility.

 

Pedestrian Protection - The FIA is pleased to see in the road map a commitment to introduce Phase II as soon as possible. The Commission is urged to take into account the developments of the special working group dealing with this matter in UN/ECE/WP29/GRSP in Geneva. There is a draft Pedestrian Protection global technical regulation on the table that goes further than Phase II. For the sake of competitiveness, the automotive industry should be encouraged to go beyond phase II and adopt the requirements of the forthcoming GTR.

 

The FIA welcomes the recommendation given by the group regarding road infrastructure safety and an EU wide implementation of road safety audits, impact assessments and inspections as well as corrective measures. Community financing should go to projects which follow road infrastructure safety best practice.

 

The FIA believes that a series of basic technologies have to be deployed as soon as possible to guarantee a good level of road safety. Amongst these technologies are Electronic Stability Control, seatbelt reminders, brake assist systems, Isofix child seats, daytime running lights.

 

The FIA notes that 90 % of road accidents are due to human mistakes. Human mistakes can be compensated by available safety devices like ESC. While smaller cars tend to be driven by less experienced drivers who need ESC most to compensate for their mistakes, in Europe 90% of small cars do not have ESC. This is not acceptable as ESC has proven tremendous safety benefits to road safety. All cars should be equipped with ESC in Europe. The FIA therefore proposed using incentives for that purpose and presented the following road map: a performance test for ESC needs to be finalised in 2006, EU Member States should offer 250 € fiscal incentive and Euro NCAP should include ESC in its safety assessment in 2007. The goal is to see 95% of new cars passing the ESC test by 2010. We welcome the inclusion of an EC proposal for legislative measures in the road map.

 

FIA agree with the integrated approach that has been adopted to achieve greater road safety. That the vehicle, road infrastructure and driver all have a role to play in the reduction of deaths and serious injuries on Europe’s roads is clear. The inclusion in the road map of measures to improve the enforcement of bans on drink-driving, enforcement of speed limits and seatbelt use as well as cross border traffic law infringements are a clear sign of commitment. The FIA would also call for commitment to a better harmonisation of the Highway Code in support of this. A recent EuroTest road signs survey carried out by the automobile clubs showed that 91% of all drivers surveyed want harmonised road signs, fewer and better road signs and more and better information about signs that could be encountered while driving abroad. Speeding signs were among those found to be the most confusing for drivers. (see http://www.eurotestmobility.com/eurotest.php?itemno=60 ). Evidently drivers are in need of better information about the Highway Code particularly when driving abroad. The commitment to more effective enforcement in the CARS 21 Road map should be balanced by further commitments to support the Commission’s proposals in the field of Procedural Safeguards for Criminal Cases (so citizens if convicted abroad have their rights respected) and the Economic and Social Committee’s report calling for a harmonised European Highway Code.

 

Recommendations:

- E-Safety is not just a luxury; the European automotive industry should offer full safety equipment on small cars also.
- Much more precise implementation of vehicle compatibility is needed
- Pedestrian Protection: For the sake of competitiveness, the automotive industry should be encouraged to go beyond phase II and adopt the requirements of the forthcoming GTR.
- Road infrastructure safety: Community financing should go to those projects that follow road infrastructure safety best practice
- ESC must  be implemented as rapidly as possible
- A commitment to a harmonised EU Highway Code is needed to support tougher enforcement of the rules and inform road users.
- Drivers convicted of traffic offences abroad must be given access to justice

Taxation

The FIA welcomes the support given by the CARS 21 High Level Group to the reform of the taxation of passenger cars as proposed by the European Commission. It will remove a significant barrier to the free movement of EU citizens who frequently face double taxation and frustration when they move their residence from one member state to another; remove the disparity and distortions in new car prices whereby the residents of member states with low or no car acquisition taxes subsidise those with high registration tax; focus annual circulation tax to send a positive signal to new car buyers to choose fuel-efficient cars.

 

The FIA agrees that fiscal incentives may offer a way of accelerating market penetration of new technologies. In addition to environmental applications some Member States are also using fiscal incentives to encourage the use of advanced safety technologies. For example, Denmark gives an incentive to cars equipped with a combination of ABS, airbags and ESC.

 

Recommendations:

- FIA supports the reform of the taxation of passenger cars as proposed by the European Commission
- Fiscal incentives offer the means to accelerate the market penetration of new technologies and  encourage the use of advanced safety technologies

Intellectual Property Rights

The FIA supported the decision to take the discussion about the design protection of spare parts out of the HLG discussion. As it is still going through the legislative process the outcome must be decided by the competent EU institutions and not the HLG.

The FIA strongly supports the Commission’s proposal to put in place a consistently liberalised open market for visible spare parts by removing design protection from them across the EU. The Commission’s impact assessment shows that this measure is good for consumer choice and competition in the automotive aftermarket not to mention employment and SMEs.

 

The Cars 21 recommendation to promote and enforce intellectual property rights (IPRs) globally is sound. However it is still not clear that design protection would fit appropriately into the objectives to be achieved (e.g. the prevention of unlawful copying in third countries).  Community law at present does not allow for the monopoly of secondary markets through the use of primary market trade marks. Moreover in the US and Australia, EU allies in the enforcement of IPRs globally, there is no design protection of spare parts. Thus for the FIA, it would be inappropriate to call for design protection of spare parts in the EU as a part of the defence of IPRs globally.

 

Recommendation:

- Liberalisation of the spare parts market is good for competition in the automotive aftermarket and good for consumer choice

Access to Technical Information

The FIA and its member organisations have campaigned long and hard for the right of all market players to have access to the technical information necessary for the maintenance and repair of passenger cars. Effective access is crucial to the competitiveness of the automotive aftermarket. It is also an issue of paramount importance for consumers and their freedom of choice in deciding where and by whom their vehicles are maintained and repaired. And here again affordability driven by competition should be a decisive factor in this process.  Moreover, as stated in the CARS 21 Report, under DG Competition’s Block Exemption Regulation (1400/2002) vehicle manufacturers have a general obligation to provide this information. The Euro 4 (OBD) Directive 98/69/EC indicates that the Commission is to make a legislative proposal which would ensure that independent operators have access to the technical information they require. The FIA welcomes the Commission’s acknowledgement that the time has come to move forward and ensure that standardised open access to technical information needed for repair is put firmly in place using the OASIS standard and the Euro 5 Regulation. This commitment from the Commission must be upheld by the other European institutions also. While the block exemption regulation (BER) establishes the vehicle manufacturers’ obligation to give access to  their repair information as a principle of competition, it does not give the detailed technical guidelines needed to achieve this in practice. The Type approval legislation is the best place to provide such guidelines. While the BER establishes the principles, Type approval legislation is needed to put in place the vehicle-specific technical specifications and industry standards that will put effectively in place the access to repair information as required in practice.

 

If vehicle technology is not designed such that a vehicle can be openly repaired, the objectives of the BER and of stimulating competition are effectively undermined. The particularities of accessing the data of the different car brands and models is so prohibitively expensive and complex that effectively the independent automotive aftermarket including the breakdown services of the automobile clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to compete. The introduction of OASIS is vital.

 

The FIA is disappointed that contrary to the treatment of all the other issues raised in the Cars 21 report, the chapter on Access to Technical Information contains no recommendation and subsequently is not mentioned in the 10 year roadmap.

Effective access to technical information is the key measure to competitiveness of the automotive aftermarket. A sound regulatory framework for the entire automotive industry must also take account of the companies operating in the market of vehicle replacement parts, servicing and repair.

 

There are numerous compelling reasons why this issue requires urgent attention (see attached Annex ).  Further technical advances in emissions control, safety and comfort-related controls for the benefit of the environment, road users and consumers will increase the complexity of the functions managed by the car’s on-board computer. Standardised access to the vehicle’s on board diagnostic systems and to technical repair information makes it even more imperative that a general requirement is fixed permanently in EU legislation. At present we have a situation where, the Block Exemption Regulation will expire in 2010, for light duty vehicles Euro 4 is to be replaced by Euro 5 and once again access to technical information is under discussion. For the continued competitiveness of the automotive aftermarket and for the freedom of consumers to choose, a permanent solution must be mapped out for achievement sooner rather than later. Recommendations and inclusion in the road map are absolutely necessary for how this issue is to be resolved definitively. Furthermore any impact assessment carried must be applied to the whole automotive sector and not just vehicle manufacturers.

 

Recommendation:

- Access to technical information and the Oasis Standard must be included in the automotive road map. They offer the key to competitiveness in the automotive aftermarket. The EU must legislate for the competitiveness of the whole of the EU automotive sector.

 

The FIA was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the High Level Group and contribute to this subsequent consultation. We remain available for comment on all subsequent steps in this debate.

 

CO, OL, FVW
28th April 2006

 

For further information please contact:
FIA European Bureau
53 rue D’Arlon
B-1040 Brussels
Tel: 0032 2 282 0815


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