Transport Canada Approach to Vehicle Theft Protection Flawed: IBC

July 29, 2003 (Toronto) 2003 – Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) strongly cautions Transport Canada that its proposed regulatory approach to electronic immobilization will cause a disservice to consumers and could set back the fight against vehicle theft.

Electronic immobilizers are systems that prevent a vehicle from starting unless a specific electronic code is used. But not all immobilizers are created equal.

Transport Canada’s proposed regulation would require manufacturers of passenger cars and light duty trucks to install electronic immobilization systems in all vehicles sold in Canada by September 1, 2005. The regulations would allow vehicle manufacturers to choose between a Canadian Standard on electronic immobilization (ULC S338) and the considerably weaker Economic Commission for Europe directive (ECE Reg. 97).

Since the publication of the Canadian Theft Deterrent Standard in 1998, IBC has successfully spearheaded a program for auto makers to voluntarily introduce effective immobilizers. Currently, eleven vehicle manufacturers participate, resulting in approximately 60 per cent of new vehicles sold in 2003 having compliant systems. At least 10 per cent of vehicles on Canadian roads today have systems meeting the standard.

“We are disappointed that the federal government would effectively ignore a proven Canadian standard in favor of a considerably weaker European standard,” says Bill Cameron, National Director, Auto Theft, IBC. “IBC has demonstrated that vehicles with immobilizers meeting the Canadian standard reduce theft frequency by approximately 50 per cent.”

The Canadian standard, which was developed with Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, vehicle manufacturers and consumers, applies to systems installed by the manufacturer at the time of assembly as well as systems retrofitted into older vehicles. Transport Canada’s authority applies only to new vehicles. At a time when IBC has shown that theft is shifting to older vehicles, Transport Canada would be, in effect, advocating a weaker standard for newer vehicles.

Use of the ECE directive could, in part, permit other systems, such as those relying on inferior mechanical keys, that thieves can more easily bypass. The Canadian standard requires, among other things, more secure electronic codes.

“Even insurers in Europe consider ECE directives to be too weak and have developed their own security standards,” says Cameron. “Transport Canada, with this ill-advised effort to regulate, is causing a pronounced slowdown of the voluntary introduction by vehicle manufacturers, as auto makers take a wait-and-see attitude.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada is the voice of the companies that insure the cars, homes and businesses of Canadians. IBC is highly regarded as a provider of automobile insurance rating information and a creator of automobile theft-deterrent standards. To view news releases and information, visit the media section of IBC’s web site at