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EC to allow drag-reducing tails earlier than expected

  • 13 June 2013
  • By David Wilcox

New European Commission (EC) whole vehicle type approval rules make it possible to start using drag-reducing aerodynamic tail extensions on trucks and trailers long before EC proposals to increase the maximum length of trucks take effect.

Two months ago the EC published draft proposals to amend Directive 96/53/EC, regarding the size and weight of trucks. Changes include an increase in overall length to permit aerodynamic tails at the rear and cabs with longer noses that improve crash performance and reduce drag. But the EC warned that it would take several years before we see trucks shaped by these proposals.

However, new type approval legislation, EU Regulation 1230/2012, which took effect on 1 November 2012, lists a series of items that are exempt when determining maximum external dimensions.

The most significant of these are:“Foldable devices and equipment designed to reduce aerodynamic drag, provided
that they don’t protrude at the back by more than 500mm from the outermost length of the vehicle and they don’t increase the length of the loading area. Such devices must be designed to be retractable when the vehicle is at a standstill in such a way that the maximum authorised length isn’t exceeded.”

There is a similar exemption for aero devices on the side of vehicles or trailers, limited to 50mm on each side and retractable when the vehicle is stationary.

The list of exemptions also includes safety rails on car transporters and clarifies a grey area concerning the arms of tipper sheeting systems, which are allowed to protrude by 20mm either side.

These exemptions cannot be claimed retrospectively or applied to vehicles and trailers already in service; they must be part of the vehicle or trailer at the time of type approval. But this doesn’t rule out adding after-market aerodynamic tails: they could be used on existing vehicles or trailers providing they are still within the maximum dimensions.

Don-Bur plans to take advantage of the new type approval exemption for trailer tails. “There isn’t a solution that we feel able to recommend,” said marketing manager Richard Owens. “We are developing something that retracts in whole to leave the rear unhindered.”


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