Guest Editorial by GTB President Geoff Draper
At the DVN 2020 Munich Workshop, I summarised the initial results of my survey of DVN and GTB experts on the hot topic of regulation of new lighting functions. I organised the survey because, honestly, I was surprised to read in the DVN Report on The Future of Exterior Lighting that “The speed of lighting innovation is not synchronised with the speed of approval by regulatory bodies.
Worldwide automakers and tier-1s expressed their severe concern about the speed of movement of regulation versus their investments necessary in innovations.” I did not share the industry scepticism and believed the situation was more positive. The small number of responses to the survey may be an indication that the majority of worldwide automakers and tier-1s are not sufficiently concerned to take time to contribute to the survey!
The regular DVN regulatory sessions were launched in 2012 and initially interest in the topic was low, despite many complaints from industry that regulations were blocking innovation. In the subsequent DVN Workshops, we discussed how we could facilitate innovation. We supported the progress of the simplification of the UN and Chinese regulations and we successfully engaged with senior regulators representing China, India, Japan, NHTSA, and UNECE, who personally spent their time to travel to join our workshops.
Good progress has been made—except in the USA—to reduce the regulatory burden for all stakeholders. GRE, the UNECE working party on lighting and signalling, is working to produce technology-neutral and performance-based requirements suitable for type-approval and self-certification systems. Sadly, the USA continues to sit out; NHTSA (alone) aren’t engaging in this activity.
This week’s In-Depth article is a synopsis of the responses to the survey of DVN and GTB experts. The outcome adds another perspective to the views recorded in the DVN Report. It reveals an understanding that not all of the industry’s dreams of unfettered freedom to innovate can be realised, but certainly some regulations need to be amended to be more innovation-friendly. There is a proposal for GTB to lead the global lighting community to transparently engage industry experts and regulators because, as one respondent in the survey pointed out, effective “changes are not coneived behind closed doors”.
It is encouraging that the survey reveals strong support for GTB as the unique NGO capable of building the necessary bridges with regulators. The results of the survey provide valuable input to the GTB process currently underway to develop strategy for the next decade. Even in these challenging times it is important that GTB be strongly supported by its members; it is clear that when the recovery does start, innovation will need good, supportive regulation. GTB is continuing to operate using WebEx meetings with good participation from its 18 national delegations and, for the sake of all stakeholders, I hope that this support continues.
Hopefully, you will find this synopsis helpful. I invite you to please share any comments that you may have with DVN. My own dedicated email channel also remains open if you wish to privately share comments with me. Any comments I receive will be used to update my anonymised synopsis, as appropriate.
Despite the disappointingly sparse response to the survey, I sincerely appreciate the 35 experts who did take time to send me their comprehensive opinions.