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CAP: the type-approval time bomb

  • 22 May 2012
  • By James Clark

John Watts, Senior Editor – CVs at CAP, writes:

There is some legislation coming over the hill about which many dealers seem to be blissfully unaware.

It comes in the form of European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA), due to be in place for commercial vehicles by the end of 2014, which not only covers complete models produced by the manufacturers, but also any third-party bodywork fitted, for example a tipper fitted to a chassis-cab, or a minibus conversion to a panel van.

The legislation also extends to items of equipment that materially affect a vehicle’s dimensions, which means that the fitment of tow-hitches comes under the new rules.

For many years third-party bodybuilders have enjoyed good business relationships with dealers and operators alike, the majority of which have supplied high-quality product which has “done the job” very successfully. The new legislation is being introduced to ensure commonality of safety and construction standards, as well as traceability of componentry, and bodybuilders will have to demonstrate these in order to obtain type approval for their equipment. Significant financial and time investment will be required to obtain ‘series approval’, which will enable bodybuilders to continue producing multiples of their standard offerings.

Demonstrable standards

To achieve type approval for a new model of vehicle, bodybuilders will need to demonstrate that they have quality management standards that meet the requirements for Conformity of Production (CoP) and that their vehicles meet the technical requirements set out in the Directive and associated legislation.

Many smaller organisations may be able to obtain approval under the National Small Series Type Approval scheme, which is less rigorous, and intended for companies selling their product on a national basis only.

Potential pitfalls

However, there are several pitfalls for the unwary dealer. Registration of new vehicles cannot take place until all type approval certificates have been issued and are submitted with the registration application, so dealers will need to have robust processes in place to ensure that the correct paperwork is in place.

Also, if in future a used vehicle is modified eg a wheelbase/axle modification, body-swop etc, a new Type Approval Certificate will be required, which might need an Individual Vehicle Approval, which will add cost and cause delays in delivery.

So the message to commercial vehicle dealers is clear – ECWVTA is coming, so ensure that all your suppliers are up to speed with their requirements, and put processes in place to administer the paperwork. The consequences of not doing so could be that you have vehicles that you will be unable to register, resulting in financial losses and disgruntled customers.

  • Full details of the scheme can be found on the Department for Transport website.


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