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From the boardroom - The bottom line on International Standards

by Hyoung-Keun Lee & Martin Conrads on
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Kia and Audi

If the global automotive industry combined efforts to invigorate current ISO activities, car manufacturers, motorists and our planet would all benefit. Greater cooperation could also lead to an even broader range of car-related technology standards.

Previously considered simply as a mode of transport, cars are now seen by many consumers as an essential part of everyday life. Cars have evolved to reflect the complexity of modern lifestyles, meeting our needs and expectations in terms of comfort, convenience, eco-friendliness, safety and entertainment, while on the move.

Better informed and smarter than ever, today’s car buyers are demanding more features, better quality, improved economy and even better value. The world’s automotive manufacturers face a difficult task: meeting these growing consumer demands; and generating sales and profits in competitive markets and tough economic conditions.

Hyoung-Keun Lee
Hyoung-Keun Lee
Vice Chairman & CEO
Kia Motors Corporation

Technology and cooperation

For car manufacturers, these trends have created both opportunities and challenges. I believe the best strategy for Kia Motors is to innovate and develop advanced technologies, while building partnerships with other vehicle manufacturers.

In the spirit of cooperation, I propose much greater international automotive standardization. This will require the combined efforts of all industry players and an industry-wide revolution if car-related certifications and new technology standards are to be uniformly adopted. Such a move would bring great benefits, especially as Japan, Europe, the USA and other markets currently operate their own industry measures in the areas of safety and the environment.

At Kia, we feel that all industry players should join in actively supporting the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. This group is reviewing the technical and legal aspects of car certification relating to fuel emissions, energy use, crash safety, lighting systems, drivetrains, brakes, noise, general safety and global technical regulations.

An industry need

The issue of International Standards’ diversity also applies to electric vehicles (EV). In June 2011, South Korea introduced its own national standardization relating to electric car recharging. Meanwhile, Japan, the USA and Europe are following their own “local” standards.

However, if we can establish viable International Standards, future EV users can have easy access to recharging facilities and eliminate “range anxiety”, the doubt about reaching a destination before running out of power.

Two other important areas demand the adoption of global International Standards: intelligent technology and recycling.

For customers’ convenience and safety, car manufacturers should consider introducing common International Standards for “intelligent car technology”, encompassing navigation and “infotainment” systems, to facilitate integration and cost-effective deployment. Car makers also need to direct efforts and funds towards creating International Standards for car resource recycling to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Why we must act

Kia wants to introduce new models that are appealing to customers worldwide, while helping to reduce the impact of car manufacturing and car ownership on the environment. As key parts of our drive towards ever greater environmental and social responsibility, we are increasing our industry cooperation and lobbying for a broad range of global standards.Since cars are available in every country worldwide, International Standards are both beneficial and necessary. In the automotive sector, efforts in standardization are focused on ISO activities.


Martin Conrads
Martin Conrads
Martin Conrads
Head of Information Services and Standards
Audi AG

For Audi, International Standards open the worldwide supplier market. Standardized components give our customers remarkable added value, for example with the ISOFIX child seat interface.

Safety is an important issue in the automotive industry and at Audi we constantly strive to make our cars safer. In addition to the regulatory requirements, many International Standards help to improve safety for car occupants and other road users. Globally accepted safety standards reduce the need for further regulation.

To guarantee their global acceptance, International Standards must follow and satisfy a worldwide consensus-finding process.

New e-mobility technologies require new standards in a particularly short time. This urgency also applies in communication protocols, energy storage, high-voltage networks, thermal management and some other areas of the automotive industry.

The technology convergence of mechanical and electric/electronic systems makes it increasingly difficult to define one responsible committee for the standardization of a new subject. ISO, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) need to increase their cooperation to offer industry-concerted global solutions.

We believe the Transatlantic Economic Council initiative has already improved attitudes. For example, standards bodies in Europe and the USA are now discussing joint approaches and will hold a transatlantic e-mobility meeting in early 2012.

A critical mass of car manufacturers has also agreed on a common charging approach for electric vehicles in Europe and the USA. This will reduce build complexity for manufacturers, accelerate the installation of common systems internationally and, most importantly, improve the ownership experience for electric vehicle customers.

While the production of ISO standards certainly draws on some industry resources, the benefits far outweigh the costs.