Engineering / Standards / Automotive


Automotive Industry Standards and Regulation


In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a department of the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT), publishes Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). FMVSS regulations are divided into three categories: crash avoidance (100-series), crashworthiness (200-series), and post-crash survivability (300-series).


Transport Canada is the department of government responsible for producing the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS).

The US FMVSS regulations and the Canadian FMVSS regulations both specify design, construction, performance, and durability requirements for motor vehicles and regulated automobile safety-related components, systems, and design features. These US and Canadian regulations do not differ substantially from each other.

However, the FMVSS/CMVSS requirements do differ significantly from the international requirements developed by the United Nations and the European Union.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) includes a working party called the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29). This working party produces a set of UN Regulations covering vehicle safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and theft-resistance. Included in the working party are all EU member states plus many other countries.

Most countries recognize and/or use the UN Regulations in their own national requirements, or permit the import, registration, and use of UN type-approved vehicles. The United States and Canada are the two significant exceptions. In the USA and Canada, the UN regulations are not recognized. Vehicles adhering only to the UN regulations cannot be imported, sold, or used in the USA and Canada.


I n the United States, automobile emission standards are set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The State of California, through the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has set its own stricter set of emission standards. Other States are free to follow either the national or the California standards. Many other States have chosen to follow the California standards. Since the California automobile market is one of the largest markets in the world, the CARB standards are extremely influential.

In Europe, the EU has its own set of emission standards that all new automobiles must meet. These standards have been influenced by the California CARB standards. Starting in 1993 with the Euro 1 directives, the EU has progressively introduced stricter emission standards. The current directive is called Euro 6.



Developed together by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF – an “ad-hoc” group of international automobile manufacturers and their respective trade organizations) and the Technical Committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO/TS 16949 Certification is an international ISO technical specification aimed at coordinating the many country-specific regulations involved in development of a quality management system. The ISO/TS 16949 Certification process emphasizes defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste in the automobile supply chain. It is based on the ISO 9001 standard, and is recognized by all countries with major automobile manufacturers.

The Automobile Industry Action Group (AIAG – an association originally founded by representatives of the three largest North American automobile manufacturers, but now expanded to include major Japanese automobile manufacturers together with a number of heavy truck and earth-moving vehicle manufacturers) has developed the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) and the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) recommendations. These recommendations have become a de facto quality standard in North America that must be complied with by all Tier I suppliers, and most Tier II and Tier III suppliers in the automobile manufacturing supply chain.

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