We Need Some Non-Chinese REEs Fast

Get ready for the “Autonomous Emergency Braking system” (AEBs,) coming soon to a new car or truck near you. The European Commission, in its wisdom or otherwise, has decided to make an AEBs a mandatory requirement in all new vehicles sold in the EC area by 2014.  Hapless commercial vehicle makers will have to comply by November 2013. Never mind that most of Europe is in a deepening recession, and that Europe is as dependent as everyone else on continued Chinese supply of the Rare Earth Elements, that largely make this sort of technical advance, work.

I have no idea if AEBs really will “reduce Europe’s road traffic accidents by 27%, saving some 8,000 lives a year,” the EC uses the weasel word “could” not would, but until we get to bring on-stream more non-Chinese REE supply than just Molycorp, Lynas and some Japanese future REE recycling, there might be some merit in conducting some hard headed sort of cost benefit analysis, in delaying until more secure REE supply is available. I know, the fanatics will argue that’s how Ford came to produce the Ford Pinto with a known rear impact defect, but if China is right that they will soon need all their own REE for their own domestic economy, what then for Europe’s auto industries? What if China now also adopts a similar requirement for their own auto industry? 2014 is only 16 months away, hardly time enough to bring on-stream much new non-Chinese REE supply.

Europe making Autonomous Emergency Braking tech compulsory in new cars
By Nick Gilbert 23:32 August 8, 2012
The European Commission plans to make Autonomous Emergency Braking systems (AEBs) a mandatory requirement in all new vehicles on the Continent by 2014. These systems typically use one or a combination of radar, lidar or video-recognition technologies to measure the distances between vehicles, warn drivers if they get too close, and to then engage the brakes if the driver fails to take any action.

Research led by the Commission found that such systems could reduce road traffic accidents by 27 per cent, saving some 8,000 lives a year.

Michiel van Ratingen, the Secretary General of Europe’s New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) said, “We don’t want to force them [car makers] into this immediately, but we’ve made it very clear that the best way to ensure a five-star rating from 2014 is to have AEB on the vehicle.”

It’s estimated that the systems could also save the economy between €5 billion (US$6.1 billion) and €8 billion (US$9.9 billion) a year in crash and accident-related costs.

—-Commercial vehicles will be required to have the systems outfitted by November of 2013, with passenger vehicles likely to follow soon after in 2014.

According to Euro NCAP, 79 per cent of vehicles available for purchase today in Europe are not AEB equipped.