We in the vehicle lighting field are well familiar with harmonisation, the long-running, ongoing effort to create windows of overlap among the world’s various technical standards—the goal being to minimise the number of variant parts and configurations needed to sell a vehicle worldwide. But now there’s something different along that line: big, sweeping free-trade pacts like TPP and TTIP and CETA, which elevate the question of how to handle foreign standards in markets newly linked by trade agreements. Increasingly it seems negotiators are converging on the principle of mutual recognition: the idea that two standards (such as the UN/ECE vs. the US/SAE) render equivalent safety performance despite their different requirements, specifications, and test protocols.
It’s tempting to believe that, but how true is it really? And what’s the right level of granularity for reciprocal recognition of foreign standards? Is it appropriate to issue a blanket declaration that everything in both standards is equivalent? What about incompatibilities arising from the introduction of foreign-spec vehicles into a roadway, traffic systems, and drivers that have grown up and evolved with the local system? This week we look at these issues in depth—not to conclude the conversation, but to open it for discussion. If you are reading this, the odds are you know a lot more than trade pact negotiators about vehicle lighting and driver vision. It will be utterly crucial for us to quickly figure out how to efficiently convey our best knowledge and know-how to the people positioned to determine what the world’s vehicle lighting requirements will look like in a free-trade world. As always, we’re keen to get your thoughts on the subject. Surely there’ll be panel discussions and roundtables about it at forthcoming DVN Workshops. But don’t wait—once you’ve read this week’s news, please share your thoughts with us!
Onward and upward,
Daniel Stern, DVN General Editor