New EU Regulation on Gear Shift Indicators Published
One of the "new technology" requirements introduced by EC Regulation No. 661/2009 concerning "type approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor" (more commonly known as the General Safety Regulation or GSR) was the requirement for M1 category vehicles with a manual gearbox, and having a reference weight not exceeding 2610 kg, to be fitted with a gear shift indicator (GSI). These gear shift indicators inform the driver when to change gear to minimise fuel consumption, thereby encouraging drivers to adopt a fuel efficient driving style and reducing both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in real world driving. Whilst EC Regulation No. 661/2009 specified the introduction dates for the mandatory fitment of gear shift indicators, i.e. 1st November 2012 for new types of vehicle and 1st November 2014 for all new vehicles, it did not include the relevant technical requirements for such systems. It was stated that the specific technical requirements for gear shift indicators would be published in a separate Implementing Regulation.
After many months of consultation and negotiation, the new EU Implementing Regulation for (EC) No. 661/2009 containing the technical requirements for gear shift indicators was published in the Official Journal on 31st January 2012. This new Regulation, EU Regulation No. 65/2012, contains both the design requirements for gear shift indicators and the detailed test procedures for assessing their performance.
This new Regulation contains a detailed definition of a "manual gearbox" to clarify that the requirement for the fitment of a GSI applies to any type of gearbox that has at least one manual mode.
With regard to the gear shift indicator itself, the Regulation specifies that the gear shift indication must be provided by a visual indicator, although this may be supplemented by an audible signal. The visual indicator must provide a clear indication to the driver of the suggested action and must not interfere or be confused with any other legally required indicator or tell tale.
The Regulation also specifies that information on the operation and function of the gear shift indicator must be included in the owner's manual for the vehicle.
To demonstrate and verify the fuel consumption benefits of the gear shift indicator, the new Regulation contains test procedures, a specific drive cycle and calculation formulae which vehicle manufacturers must undertake to compare the difference in fuel consumption when the vehicle is driven "normally" and when the vehicle is driven following the advice of the gear shift indicator.