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EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval for light vans could cause chaos for van operators
Under the new regulations, even the fitting of warning beacons could count as a modification requiring re-inspection

Story: COLIN DAWSON

THE spectre of having all your vans individually re-inspected, tested and approved if they’ve been modified in any way is looming large with the introduction next spring of European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) for light vans.

It’s certainly something all UK van operators could do without, but from 29 April 2013 all light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes will come into scope of ECWVTA, requiring additional approval for any modifications made to them.

Yet almost all panel vans will have been modified in some way to equip them for work, whether it is ply lining, racking, lamp beacons or side-steps.

The BVRLA – the UK trade body for companies engaged in the leasing and rental of cars and commercial vehicles – is concerned that each vehicle would have to undergo individual re-inspection, testing and approval when the new regulations come into effect, causing chaos for traders and SME business van operators.

It might be possible for an approval scheme to be put into place to reduce the burden on van operators, test centres and inspectors.

At the BVRLA’s recent Technical and Operational Management Forum, the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) presented details of a ‘light touch’ approval scheme for the more common vehicle modifications. And it will continue to work with the BVRLA to identify, agree and publish a list of modifications that would be seen as having no impact on a vehicle’s original type approval.

But a great deal of uncertainty remains as to which modifications could be ‘blanket approved’. There are also concerns that converters and body-builders will require a comprehensive understanding of the scope of new type approval for vans and the impact of any modifications.

EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval for light vans could cause chaos for van operators
Most business vans will have had some kind of modification for work, such as racking or ply lining

BVRLA chief executive John Lewis told Business Vans: “Our members are already planning for fleet requirements well into 2013 so we are working closely with the VCA and with VOSA, who will police the regulations, to avoid delays or additional costs from rising next year.

“While the VCA’s ‘light touch’ proposal is a step in the right direction, there are still too many unanswered questions and we are very concerned that the system will not be able to cope with this potential new surge in type approval testing. This could have a major effect on lead times for business van operators, who need to get to grips with the potential time and cost implications involved,” he said.

Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.

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