With new EU Type Approval rules due to be introduced in April, UK van converters were beginning to worry that even such mundane modifications as ply-lining would need individual type approval.
(Even though, as I pointed out here, the DfT has always emphasised that type approval only applies to vehicles before they are registered — there are no restrictions on modifications after this point*.)
Whatever the case, there was still a grey area of uncertainty and doubt that suggested that the van industry was going to have to face a monumental paperwork headache come April this year. Luckily, common sense has prevailed (along with a bit of lobbying by the SMMT) and a solution has been found.
SMMT has announced today that it has successfully negotiated a valuable Van Enhancement Scheme that removes the requirement for UK-based van manufacturers and bodybuilders to seek Type Approval on basic vehicle modifications.
Under legislation set to hit N1 category vehicles from April this year (and N2 vehicles from October 2014), any modification would have required separate Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA). The Enhancement Scheme, secured by SMMT with VCA and VOSA, removes the requirement for basic modifications (ply-lining, basic racking, etc) to be approved.
“SMMT has worked hard to achieve this crucial Type Approval change that will avoid unnecessary paperwork and save UK businesses thousands of pounds every year,” said SMMT Commercial Vehicle Manager Nigel Base. “We have found a solution that works for all parties while maintaining safety standards for those converters making basic modifications to panel vans. This sort of administrative burden could have forced some firms out of business, but thanks to close collaboration with industry partners and government this will now be avoided.”
Over the past 10 months SMMT has worked with a group of van manufacturer and converter members, the VCA, VOSA and the Department for Transport to try and reduce the regulatory burden of Type Approval. The process has achieved a result that will see around 80% of vans sold in the UK avoid the burdensome Type Approval requirements, with another 15% of the market benefiting from an enhanced process of application and approval of multiple vehicle types.
Those converters that need to go through the Enhancement route will benefit from an upgraded version of SMMT’s online Type Approval guide – SENTA (www.smmt.co.uk/SENTA). The tool guides companies through all combinations of Whole Vehicle Type Approval, streamlining the process and saving companies time and costs.
*Disclaimer: This article is my opinion only and is definitely not a guide to the new rules. Contact VOSA or the VCA if you want to know the facts, don’t trust me!