ECE Regulation on the Prevention of Fire Risks Updated to Mandate Rear Impact Testing
Prior to the publication of the 02 series of amendments, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) Regulation No. 34 on the prevention of fire risks required M1 category vehicles (i.e. passenger cars and multipurpose passenger vehicles) to be subjected to both front and rear impact tests, and to comply with specific maximum fuel leakage rates during and after these impacts. However, the 02 series of amendments to ECE 34, which were published in 2003, made these front and rear impact tests optional, at the choice of the vehicle manufacturer.
For over 20 years, Japan has required both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to be subjected to a rear impact test and comply with fuel leakage requirements as part of their national requirements. Therefore, because rear impact testing is not mandatory in ECE 34.02, Japan have never become a signatory to ECE 34.02 and do not accept type approval to ECE 34.02 as an alternative to compliance with their national requirements.
In an attempt to address this situation, at a meeting of the UN ECE Working Party on General Safety Provisions (GRSG) in 2012, Japan submitted an initial proposal for an 03 series of amendments to ECE 34 to require the mandatory rear impact testing of M1 and N1 category vehicles with a maximum mass not exceeding 2,800 kg. As part of this proposal, Japan also proposed increasing the rear impact test speed from 35 - 38 km/h to 48 - 52 km/h and provided accident statistics to demonstrate the reduction in vehicle fires following rear impacts that had occurred in Japan when they increased the rear impact test speed to 50 km/h in their national requirements. The changes proposed by Japan were intended to bring the requirements of ECE 34 into line with their national requirements so that Japan could become a signatory to the Regulation and accept type approval to ECE 34.03 as an alternative to compliance with their national requirements. The proposed changes, and its acceptance by Japan, would also make ECE 34.03 a more likely candidate for inclusion into the International Whole Vehicle Type Approval (IWVTA) scheme that is currently under discussion within the UN ECE.
After some negotiation and discussion, the 03 series of amendments to ECE 34 were finally adopted at the 164th session of the Working Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) in November 2014 and officially published on 22nd June 2015.
The finally adopted and published version of the 03 series of amendments to ECE 34 requires all M1 and N1 category vehicles with a maximum mass not exceeding 2,800 kg to be subjected to a rear impact test at 48 - 52 km/h. During the impact, no more than a slight leakage of liquid from the fuel system is permitted and any continuous leakage of liquid from the fuel system must not exceed 30 g/min. In addition, no fire maintained by fuel shall occur and the vehicle battery must be kept in position by its securing device.
Compliance with ECE 34.03 becomes mandatory for new types of vehicle from 1st September 2018.