Association, Inc.

Issue No. 2, 2007

JAMA Annual Reception, Brussels, 4 July 2007

JAMA's twelfth annual reception, hosted by JAMA Chairman Fujio Cho, took place at the Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels on 4 July with over 170 participants.  The event brought together key actors from the EU Institutions, EU Member States and industry for a timely dialogue on the "Future Competitiveness of the European Automotive Industry".

JAMA was honoured to welcome two distinguished guest speakers who had kindly accepted to share their views on the above theme: Mr Günter Verheugen, Vice President of the European Commission in charge of Enterprise and Industry, and Mr Robert Szurman, Vice Minister of Trade and Industry of the Czech Republic.

Mr. VerheugenIn his opening remarks, Vice President Verheugen noted that Japanese auto manufacturers have become an integral part of the European automotive market and thanked JAMA members for their commitment to that market and their contributions to the European economy.

As major stakeholders in the European automotive community, JAMA members were urged by Vice President Verheugen to continue participating in Europe's automotive policy debate.  He referred specifically to the consultations on CO2 reduction and conveyed the Commission's strong interest to learn how Japanese manufacturers believe this particular challenge can best be tackled.

Mr Verheugen acknowledged that the vehicle industry poses one of the greatest challenges in terms of better regulation, due to the complexity of the automotive product and the role it plays in society.  Emphasising that new cars should be as fuel-efficient as possible, he also underlined the critical need to provide predictability for an industry whose long product-development cycles make adequate lead time essential.

Mr Robert SzurmanMr Robert Szurman, the Czech Republic’s Vice Minister of Trade and Industry, also discussed better regulation, which is strongly endorsed by his country, as well as the adoption of an “integrated approach” in reducing CO2 emissions in the road transport sector—both concepts having been advocated by the CARS 21 High Level Group.

In regard to the better regulation agenda, Mr Szurman remarked that the most significant part of the work should be done at the national level and stressed that sustainability and predictability must be taken into account, especially—as Mr Verheugen had also pointed out—for industries with long production cycles such as automobile manufacturing.

Concerning CO2 reduction, Mr Szurman made three specific comments with respect to the adoption of an integrated approach.   First, he stated that tyre manufacturers should be more closely involved in the process since one-third of automotive fuel consumption is tyre-dependent; second, he emphasised the importance of improving road infrastructure and traffic flow; and finally, Mr Szurman mentioned the need for user-targeted measures such as tax incentives and eco-driving.

Mr ChoMr Fujio Cho, chairman of JAMA and also chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, expressed his appreciation to the guest speakers and, responding to their comments, affirmed that Japanese manufacturers fully support the recommendations derived from the CARS 21 initiative, particularly those concerning the simplification and internationalisation of the regulatory environment, the adoption of an integrated approach for CO2 reduction in the transport sector, and the need to tackle road safety.

Stating that CO2 reduction is the greatest challenge facing the automobile industry, Mr Cho noted that JAMA members are making continuous progress in this area.  However, he voiced JAMA members’ view that the target application year of 2012 for the Commission’s proposed new regulation on automotive CO2 emissions should be postponed to 2015, taking into consideration vehicle development and production cycles (requiring a lead time of at least seven years) and cost-effectiveness issues pertaining to the need to comply with additional EU emissions regulations, such as the EURO 6 provisions.

Closing his comments, Mr Cho urged that the dialogue between the Commission, JAMA and other relevant entities be maintained in the years ahead, as it provides a vital means by which to contribute to the increased competitiveness and growth of the European automobile industry.

Click here to read Mr Fujio Cho's speech.