Blame the UN for all modern cars looking the same

By | March 20, 2024

⚡️ Read the full article on Motorious

Global regulations kill creativity…


On December 11, 2009, the Inland Transport Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe drafted a boring-sounding document that would forever change the look of cars around the world. In Geneva, these global regulators decided on Global Technical Regulation No. 9, which prescribes the design of modern vehicles with pedestrian safety in mind. If you’ve wondered why new cars in recent years are all eerily similar and completely uninspiring, this is why.

After consulting with safety experts from Germany and Japan, this influential UN council, which was created to promote economic cooperation between different countries, has single-handedly made your Toyota and your neighbor’s Ford look far too much like your neighbor’s Hyundai. neighbor. Yes, modern cars are blobs on wheels, a far cry from the tantalizing styling of the 1960s or the bold shapes of the 1990s.

The problem is that too many pedestrians hit by cars are injured or even killed by the impact. Now your front is designed to deform rather than break bones, and your hood functions like a giant baseball glove that cushions the person. Hey, if it saves even one life, it’s worth it, or so we’re told about this and so many other things these days.

You might be wondering why a UN council in Europe, Geneva to be precise, would affect what cars look like in North America. Well, the UNECE not only covers Europe, but also has jurisdiction in North America, the Middle East and Russia. Nice right? Here you thought we lived in a sovereign nation. Instead, the UN is in control of at least some of our vehicle safety standards, because US officials have decided to get on board.

This was not an overnight process. Like everyone else, you probably had no idea that in 1998 the UNECE published a document “Agreement on the Establishment of Global Technical Requirements for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Components to be Fitted and/or Used on Wheeled Vehicles”, probably because you thought that the UN was just hot air and said things that meant little or nothing. Well, think again.

From there, UNECE collected proposals for regulations from member states, and decided which regulations needed to be implemented. After a decade, the company began setting standards for everything from motorcycle brakes to windshield safety glass. Isn’t it reassuring to know that the UN takes care of all our security?

While there are many other regulations that govern how cars are designed, both here in the United States and in other countries, Global Technical Regulation No. 9 may have had the biggest impact in the past decade. Even though the US doesn’t have to follow any UN regulations, federal regulators here are willing to play ball on this point. You can draw your own conclusions as to why that would be the case, but it’s probably not just that Mazda doesn’t need to make two sets of front fascias when selling a car in the US versus Canada. Sure, that’s a consideration, but use your imagination and you can probably come up with more.

As a result, car hood lines must be much higher than in the past. That higher placement creates space between the engine block and the hood, allowing the sheet metal to behave more like a baseball glove, cushioning a pedestrian instead of their body crashing into the cylinder heads or something else very solid. Moving the hood line upward has led automakers to use larger wheels to balance the proportions. The result is that cars today look bloated. You mainly see the changes in newer BMWs, but it has consequences for the entire market.

People who don’t really like cars look at them like they look at their refrigerator, washing machine or any other appliance, so they’ll think we’re making a big deal over nothing. After all, it’s not worth having a cool looking muscle car if it kills anyone who jumps in front of it, right? Today, social responsibility is the ultimate fashion statement.

But how far will this go? Where is the line, the point at which we say that perhaps we have made everyone safe enough or even too safe? Should all speed limits be 25 miles per hour because that would keep everyone safer? Why not 15 km/h? Yes, those are ridiculous proposals, but they illustrate a point: security must be balanced with other interests. When it exclusively dictates all decisions, creativity, freedom, efficiency, etc. are suppressed. Ultimately you extinguish the human spirit. Maybe that’s the point of all this. That would certainly explain why pointing it out often leads to resentment and ridicule, as you’ll probably see in the comments section. So thank the UN for why modern cars look the same: like bloated toads.

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