The Nikkei Newspaper is reporting that worldwide vehicle regulations and safety rules pertaining to hybrid and electric vehicles will be determined by Japanese automakers and politicians.

According to the report, the United Nations UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations will adopt many standards set forth by Japanese automakers.  The UNECE currently has no additional standards set for safety of hybrid and electric vehicles.  Japan as a country leads the worlds in production of hybrid vehicles and have pushed for their domestic regulations to be adopted worldwide.

The report states that the chances of the UNECE adopting Japanese standards are strong.  53 countries are part of the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulation and each country implements various UNECE regulations to an extent.  Countries who take part in the UNECE have accepted the regulations utilized in other countries and this makes importing vehicles into a country easier as additional safety measures are not required before import.

If the Japanese standards are accepted, Toyota and Honda could feasibly sell their hybrids and electric to participating nations with no modifications needed.  This would in turn benefit both companies as exportation of their vehicles would be simplified. 

However, the U.S. and Canada do not follow UNECE regulations and vehicles imported here would still be required to meet our federal safety guidelines.  This hurts the U.S. in several ways including added costs for imported vehicles and more difficulty for U.S. automakers to export vehicles to UNECE participating nations.

The Federal motor safety guidelines used in the U.S. have caused many manufacturers to withdraw completely from our market where as other manufacturers choose to export only select models here.  Adopting international standards would save costs for automakers, lower prices for buyers, and lead to universal standards for vehicles in all markets.

Source:  Nikkei Newspaper via The Truth About Cars