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FORD VICE PRESIDENT CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON WORLDWIDE TESTS AND STANDARDS

 FORD VICE PRESIDENT CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
 ON WORLDWIDE TESTS AND STANDARDS
 TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Aug. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The next U.S. administration should address the "crying need" for worldwide auto industry test procedures and standards, a Ford executive said here today.
 Speaking at the University of Michigan Management Briefing Seminar, Dr. John P. McTague, vice president - Technical Affairs, said, "I ask here today for the next U.S. administration to establish as a high and early priority the enactment of a bold initiative to harmonize the approach to safety, emissions and other societal aspects of automobiles worldwide."
 Dr. McTague suggested that the first step be to develop a uniform database from which to derive common test procedures and equipment.
 Common procedures across major markets would allow the auto industry to allocate resources to meet social needs at acceptable societal costs and to do so more broadly, better and faster, he stated. Instead, the industry wastes resources by meeting needlessly different standards.
 In many instances, too, "competition alone is inefficient and works against the public interest when it results in unnecessary duplication of effort and investment," the Ford vice president said.
 "If the end result is a societal good, duplicating the means to that end in three different places isn't three times as good! It's not only wasteful; it rules out other societal goals that could have been accomplished instead," he noted. "And that situation can be aggravated if Americans are competing as individual companies against foreign companies that work together and, in some cases, have strong governmental support."
 Dr. McTague cited vehicle safety and emissions control development as examples of these inefficiencies. Greater cooperation and partnerships "can help us lower environmental depredation, reduce raw materials usage, improve safety and increase recycling and responsible disposal," he added.
 "In retrospect, had greater cooperation been allowed in the U.S., the American consumers would have benefited. They would have gotten more and better products sooner, as resources could have been used instead for more rapid updating of basic designs or to create greater product diversity, as happened in Japan," he said.
 "Does it make sense to have different headlight standards on either side of the Atlantic?" he asked. "The only difference ought to be whether you drive on the left side of the highway or the right side of the highway!"
 In individual nations, new strategic alliances already are being formed within industries, among industries, with suppliers and with the public sector, Dr. McTague observed. The Big Three U.S. auto companies, for example, have set up nine research and development consortia under the banner of the United States Council for Automotive Research -- USCAR. Without meaning to imply that these will be the next consortia, Dr. McTague noted that additional areas that might warrant further attention on a joint Big Three basis are lightweight materials, more "environmentally friendly" paint systems for plants, setting U.S. industry standards for components where commonization would improve reliability and customer serviceability, and the emerging need for electric vehicle technologies.
 In a global industry, however, national standards are inefficient, Dr. McTague pointed out.
 "There is little technical basis for differing standards," he commented. "People breathe the same air, react the same way in a crash, and so on, whether they are in the U.S., Europe or Japan."
 Regional groups such as the European Community are beginning to commonize test procedures, and even standards, among their members. But it is necessary to make the leap to the next level -- international standards, the executive stated.
 "There is a lack of worldwide standards -- or even a means to initiate their creation," he said. "A change in this situation is possible only with leadership at the highest levels of governments, accompanied by government-to-government and industry cooperation."
 Such an initiative should involve auto manufacturers and manufacturers' associations in the discussions, to assure good public- private sector dialogue and the adoption of cost-effective standards.
 "We can no longer afford the social costs of allowing different automotive 'languages' to keep us apart," Dr. McTague concluded. "We need -- we desperately need -- that common dictionary, that lingua franca, that will make needless differences disappear."
 -0- 8/7/92
 /CONTACT: Beryl Goldsweig of Ford, 313-337-2456/
 (F) CO: Ford Motor Company ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:


ML -- DE001 -- 7889 08/07/92 08:47 EDT
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Date:Aug 7, 1992
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