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UN adopts international tire standards

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BRUSSELS—The United Nations' World Forum on Automotive Regulations has adopted new internationally harmonized rules for passenger car tire certification known as Global Technical Regulations (GTR), despite the U.S.'s abstaining from the vote in Brussels.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity to European Rubber Journal, a source close to the debates said that the U.S., “in a surprising move,” abstained while other countries—namely the European Union, China, Canada, India, Japan and Russia—voted for the new regulations.

“Therefore, the regulations are not binding on them [U.S.],” noted the source, adding, “The adoption of a new GTR on tires developed under the UN's international agreement on vehicle construction will ensure that the same testing procedure is adopted not only by Europe, but also by other countries such as Canada, Japan, China, India and Korea, hence reducing market-entry technical barriers and ultimately facilitating trade between major automotive markets.

“It is really surprising that the U.S. abstained, as the new regulations were mostly compatible with American standards. To put it in a simple way, the passenger car regulations were in line with the EU regulations and the light truck ones were mostly in line with American legislations,” he said.

Asked about the U.S. abstaining from the vote, Daniel Zielinski, senior vice president of public affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), told Tire Business the RMA is generally happy with the end result of the GTR negotiations.

“Nations voted on this issue, not industry,” Mr. Zielinski said. “But, as you might imagine, we were involved along with other regional industry groups to move this forward.”

GTR is a bid to bring closer the tire regulations of the EU and the U.S., as well as other international players. However, with the U.S. abstaining, what is not yet harmonized at this stage is EU-U.S. legislation.

“This concerns mainly the way to measure physical dimensions, the high-speed test for cars/light truck tires and the rolling resistance included in the EU legislation,” the source added.

The U.S. is the second most important destination for EU tire exports and yet both sides have strong divergent approaches to regulations and market surveillance.

The EU's system is based on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) 1958 agreement regulation, while the U.S. one is based on regulations promulgated by the DOT-NHTSA (Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

The UNECE system is based on type approval, while that of the U.S. is based on self-certification and strong market surveillance.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), which states that its regulatory framework allows for the market introduction of innovative vehicle technologies, while continuously improving global vehicle safety.

Shahzad Pourriahi is a reporter for European Rubber Journal, a London-based sister publication of Tire Business.
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