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Auto glazing industry seeks global standard.

A WORLDWIDE standard for automotive safety glazing may only be a few months away, now that suppliers have agreed on the content and wording.

The new draft standard was finalized at a January conference in Brussels under the umbrella of CLEPA (the European Association of Automotive Suppliers), with representatives from the US, Japan, Canada, Belgium, France and Germany taking part. It will now go before the April 16-20 meeting of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) for ratification.

If UNECE accepts the draft standard, it will become a Global Technical Regulation under the UN program set up in 1958 to harmonize vehicle regulations on vehicle safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and anti-theft performance. The primary aim of the UNECE programme is to aid global trade.

"The agreed proposal is significant," says Pierre Laurent, senior manager in CLEPA's technical team, "because it harmonises the positions of the main stakeholders over vehicle safety testing."

Acceptance would also underline the growing role of associations in global standard-setting. CLEPA represents 22 national trade associations and European sectoral associations, representing more than 3,000 companies. In 2003, CLEPA set up tri-partite talks with JAPIA (the Japan Auto Parts Industry Association) and MEMA (the US Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association), strengthening the industry's voice globally.

The new standard, Mr Laurent says, will improve occupant protection and give better visibility for drivers. It will also make it easier to recycle the glass because the window frames under the new standard will be easier to remove from a vehicle.

Even if the glass is smashed during an accident, the new standard will bring a big safety benefit: "The aim is to make the splinters from broken glass so small that the risk of injury is greatly reduced."

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association, ACEA--which represents the 13 major European vehicle manufacturers--backs the proposed new standard.

"The car industry has been part of the discussions and is in favour of harmonization in general so we support a global standard for safety glass," ACEA representative Sigrid de Vries told wardsauto.com.

The UK' Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders also supports the standard. SMMT Representative John Proctor said:

"We think it's a good standard to have across the industry. It will help on production, replacement and monitoring. Testing to one standard will save resources and will be good for safety and the industry."

Although MEMA has not been directly involved in the GTR discussions on glazing, the association has been generally supportive of GTRs and harmonization in general.

"I think the GTR would improve the industry,' says Meredith Tunick, MEMA's manager for regulatory affairs.

The US organization directly involved in the discussions is the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration section. In a report in the October 10, 2006 issue of the US Federal Register, the NHTSA explained that the test procedure for optical qualities in the GTR specifies testing in defined zones based on the eye position of the driver and with the glazing at the intended installation angle.

"This position is considered more realistic than the current US procedure that tests the glazing at a normal angle to the surface," says the NHTSA.

Another difference is the drop height for the small-ball test for uniformly toughened glass panes. A previous UNECE standard had specified different drop heights, depending on the thickness of the glazing. However, based on test results from Japan showing that the force from a drop height of 2 meters (roughly 6 ft 6ins) replicated the force of a typical object hitting a pane, the working group for the new GTR decided that a single drop height of 2 meters could be specified.

BY DEIRDRE MASON, in London
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Mason, Deirdre
Publication:International News Services.com
Article Type:Industry overview
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Words:615
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