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European Aftermarket federations want changes to EU roadworthiness testing proposals

The three Aftermarket Federations EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association), CECRA (European Council for Motor Trades and Repair) and FIGIEFA (European Federation of Automotive Aftermarket Distributors), want changes to the European Commission’s Roadworthiness package which is currently up for discussions.

Whilst welcoming the Commission proposal, the three associations claim changes would make the legislation more workable, effective and compatible with the principles of free competition.

The sector associations are involved in the three stages of the periodic technical inspection ( PTI) process which involve the preparation of the vehicle for the inspection, the roadworthiness testing itself and finally the eventual remedial work . All these stages require technical information, the use of specialised test equipment and replacement parts in the event of a repair.

As such, the EGEA, CECRA and FIGIEFA are directly affected by the Commission’s Roadworthiness Testing proposal. In his capacity as host Phil BennionMEP welcomed the participants of the event by highlighting the relevance of the daily work carried out by automotive aftermarket operators who contribute to ensuring an effectivepreparation, roadworthiness test or repair of a vehicle.

He emphasised that the reviewed legislation must take into account their role, consistently with the existing diversity of the checks across the European Union.

Neil Pattemore, Technical Advisor of EGEA, highlighted that the testing methods and equipment currently prescribed by the EU legislation, and thus being used, do not reflect the needs of testing the rapidly evolving technology and complexity of today’s vehicles. “The vehicle design has evolved to provide safer and more environmentally friendly vehicles, but this will work only if the new technology is operating reliably and correctlyover the entire lifecycle of the vehicle,” said Neil Pattemore.

The EGEA advocates more updated technical checks. In this context and particularly concerning the emission testing, the use of the On-Board Diagnostic (OBD) alone, as suggested by the Council in its report of December 2012, is not a reliable method to monitor exhaust emissions, so tailpipe testing is still needed as the default method.

Additionally, Pattemore pointed out that nano particulates and NOx produced by modern engine vehicles, and which could severely affect public health and the environment, should be measured and included in the roadworthiness testing. These are however not covered by the current proposal. As a last point, it was also suggested to keep suspension testing into the Commission’s proposal, but based on a new universal test method.

Bernard Lycke, Director General of CECRA, pleaded for duly taking into account the existing diversity in carrying out technical checks within the European Union. The willingness to harmonise the rules cannot go to the detriment of national technical checking procedures such as is the case in the UK, Netherlands, and Austria where the roadworthiness tests are carried out by workshops of car dealerships and independent garages.

Moreover, the European Union should provide the opportunity to all workshops of both car dealerships and independent garages to carry out the roadworthiness tests. The member states shall independently define additional measures for the inspectors who are qualified and experienced car mechanics employed by the workshopto standards set by the relevant government body in the spirit of harmonisation, Lycke states

Of great concern for the European repairers is also the cross border trade in tampered cars. “We believe that developing a European vehicle electronic information platform in order to record e.g. PTI mileage, PTI faults would be a good solution to this problem”, he said.

Finally, CECRA is in favour of the proposal of the Commission to include previously exempted classes of vehicles, trailers, caravans, two or three wheel vehicles and tractors into the scope as it would enhance road safety.

Sylvia Gotzen, Secretary General of FIGIEFA, highlighted the need to ensure a less interpretable definition of ‘Roadworthiness testing’

“The problem with the current Commission definition is that it refers to a check of ‘parts and components’ which must correspond to the safety and environmental characteristics in force ‘at the time of approval’ ”.

This could be misinterpreted as if referring to a test of the parts and components themselves, instead of a verification of the functionality of the systems. This is impractical as it would require dismantling of the vehicle systems,” she explained.

“Moreover, introducing type approval (characteristic) as benchmark could lead to a test on criteria when the car was brand new and of whether the installed parts are marked as original spare parts. This would have the consequence that competitive parts of matching quality could be cut off from the market, and this would represent a negative spill over effect on the entire aftermarket and on consumers.”

The draft report from the Transport Committee only partially addresses this issue. FIGIEFA therefore calls for an adaptation, which better reflects the practiced generic in use assessment of the functionality of the safety and environmental systems of the vehicle.