EU Publishes new Regulation on Masses and Dimensions
As specified within 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), the two existing EC Directives on masses and dimensions; EC Directive 92/21/EEC covering M1 category vehicles and EC Directive 97/27/EC covering vehicle categories other than M1, will be fully repealed by 1st November 2014. Therefore, in July 2010, the European Commission began work on developing a single new Implementing Regulation to replace these two Directives.
Due to the complex and contentious nature of the subject matter, it has taken over two years of discussions and negotiations to finalise the content of this new Regulation. However, on 21st December 2012, the new EU Implementing Regulation on masses and dimensions, (EU) No. 1230/2012, was finally published. This new Implementing Regulation not only combines the requirements from the two repealed Directives on masses and dimensions, but introduces a number of significant new and revised requirements.
The new and revised requirements introduced by EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 are too numerous to cover within this article. However, the following is a summary of the main points:
Maximum Permissible Masses
Although the European Commission had initially hoped to specify harmonised maximum permissible masses for all commercial vehicles in this new Regulation, this proved to be impossible due to the differences in maximum permissible mass values specified in the National legislation of the various Member States. Therefore, for commercial vehicle maximum permissible masses, this new Regulation adopts a similar approach to that used in EC Directive 97/27/EC, i.e. the vehicle is type approved at its maximum "design" masses and its "registration / in service" maximum permissible masses are determined in each Member State by the relevant National Authority.
Maximum Permissible Dimensions
The maximum permissible vehicle dimension limits, e.g. length, width and height, specified in EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 are predominantly carried over from EC Directive 97/27/EC and remain aligned with those specified in EC Directive 96/53/EC on the maximum authorised "in use" masses and dimensions for vehicles used in international traffic. However, although these dimensional limits have been applied to vehicles used in international "cross border" traffic for many years, some Member States still permit vehicles exceeding these specified dimension limits to operate within their borders. For instance, in the UK, vehicles with an overall height exceeding 4.0 m are permitted. During the negotiation process, it was recognised that vehicles designed to comply with such National vehicle dimensional limits would not be able to gain full European whole vehicle type approval and, hence, would have to be type approved using the National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA) or Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) schemes of the relevant country, with the associated limits on the quantity of vehicles that can be produced and registered under such schemes. To accommodate the National Small Series Type Approval and Individual Vehicle Approval of such vehicles, EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 contains a specific derogation permitting National type approval (either NSSTA or IVA) to be issued to vehicles which do not comply with the specified dimensional requirements. Furthermore, EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 contains an amendment to EC Directive 2007/46/EC on type approval to relax the numerical limits on the quantities of such "derogated" vehicles that may be produced and registered using NSSTA schemes.
Items Exempted from the Maximum Permissible Dimension Requirements
EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 contains a comprehensive list of the devices and equipment that does not need to be taken into account when determining a vehicle’s overall dimensions, e.g. rear view mirrors, access steps, customs seals, etc. Whilst most of the items in this list are carried over from EC Directive 97/27/EC, there are some revisions and additions. One notable addition to the list is the inclusion of devices and equipment designed to reduce aerodynamic drag.
Actual Mass of the Vehicle
A significant new requirement introduced by EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 is that, in addition to specifying the "mass in running order" for the vehicle, all Certificates of Conformity must also specify the "actual mass of the vehicle". A definition of the "actual mass of the vehicle", along with revised definitions for "mass in running order" and "mass of the optional equipment", are contained within EU Regulation No. 1230/2012.
EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 also revises the tolerances permitted when measuring the masses and dimensions for both type approval and Conformity of Production purposes. The applicable tolerances can be summarised as follows:
- Tolerance on dimensional measurements for both type approval and Conformity of Production purposes = ±3%.
- Tolerance on "mass in running order" and "actual mass of the vehicle" measurements for type approval purposes = ±5% for special purpose vehicles and ±3% for all other vehicles.
- Tolerance on "mass in running order" and "actual mass of the vehicle" measurements for Conformity of Production purposes = ±5%.
According to EC Regulation No. 661/2009, compliance with this new Implementing Regulation became mandatory from 1st November 2012 for new types of vehicle (even though the Regulation was not actually published until 21st December 2012) and will become mandatory for all new vehicles from 1st November 2014.
Additionally, EU Regulation No. 1230/2012 requires that, from 10th January 2014, all Certificates of Conformity must be in accordance with the updated format specified in the Regulation, i.e. specifying the "actual mass of the vehicle".