The last few years have seen most European light commercial vehicle manufacturers introduce ready-built conversion options to their van ranges.
Common conversion, such as lutons, dropsides, tippers, minibuses and even refrigerated vans are increasingly available direct from the factory – or else via a factory-approved converter with the conversion included in the original sale.
This offers manufacturers and customers a number of advantages in terms of quality, consistence and simplicity – and may even have been good news for some larger bodybuilders who have managed to secure OEM contracts. On the other hand, it probably has not been good news for smaller independent bodybuilders who have lost some of their bread and butter work
Introducing EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval
What is more certain is that the latest EU rules are not going to be good news for independent bodybuilders. From 29th April 2012, manufacturers, converters and bodybuilders of Special Purpose Vehicles (category M1) will have to seek Type Approval to register vehicles across Europe. No type approval will mean that the vehicle cannot be registered.
Bodybuilders making all sorts of products from motor-caravans, ambulances and hearses to armoured vehicles and wheelchair accessible vehicles (up to eight seats) will have to adhere to the new rules.
Whole Vehicle Type Approval means that the whole of the finished vehicle must be approved – not just parts of it. For example, a manufacturer chassis cab will already have type approval, and until now, an independent bodybuilder could fit a suitable body to it without requiring the whole vehicle to be recertified. That will no longer be the case.
All vehicles sold will need to have whole vehicle type approval and will need either a certificate of conformity (for production models) or an Individual Vehicle Approval Certificate (for one-off models) to prove it. From 29th October 2012, these rules will also apply to trailers.