BVRLAX Fleet AllianceThere are fears that the introduction of European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) for light vans next spring could cause chaos for fleet operators.

From April 29 2013, light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes will come into scope of ECWVTA, requiring additional approval for any modifications made to them. Almost all panel vans will have some modification to equip them for service, whether it is ply-lining, racking, lamp beacons or side-steps, and the BVRLA is concerned that each vehicle would have to be individually re-inspected, tested and approved.

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, to reduce the burden on fleets, test centres and inspectors. It has agreed to 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.

However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to what modifications could be ‘blanket approved’. There are also worries that converters and body-builders will require a thorough understanding of the scope of new type approval for vans and the impact of any modifications.

“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,” said BVRLA Chief Executive John Lewis.

“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 fleet van operators, who need to get to grips with the potential time and cost implications involved.”