Major Revisions to UN ECE Regulations on Lamps and Reflectors Adopted
The first automotive Regulations ever published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) related to lamps and reflectors. In fact, all of the first eight UN ECE Regulations covered lamps and reflectors, with separate Regulations for sealed beam headlamps, halogen headlamps, position lamps (side lights), direction indicators, registration plate lamps and rear retro-reflectors. The practice of creating a new UN ECE Regulation for each new type of lamp and reflector has continued ever since and has led to the current situation where 35 of the 147 published UN ECE Regulations specifically cover lamps, light sources or reflectors.
Whilst there are some advantages to having separate Regulations for different lamps and reflectors, there have also been some drawbacks to this approach. Notably, this approach has necessitated that large chunks of regulatory text, e.g. the test procedures for photometric measurement, etc., have to be repeated in each Regulation. This has meant that, whenever an update or amendment to these "common" requirements is introduced, it is necessary to publish a separate Supplement or new Series of Amendments to each Regulation.
The separate Regulation approach also causes some issues for lamp/reflector manufacturers with regard to the number of type approval certificates they have to obtain for, and to the approval markings to be shown on, lamp units containing multiple lamp/reflector functions. For example, the manufacturer of a rear lamp cluster containing a rear position lamp, a rear direction indicator, a rear fog lamp, a reversing lamp and a rear reflector would need to obtain five separate type approval certificates to five separate UN ECE Regulations to cover this lamp cluster, and the production lamp cluster would need to display the approval marks from all five of these type approvals.
At the 156th session of the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) in March 2012, the European Union proposed revising the UN ECE Regulations on lamps and reflectors to make them less technology specific and more performance related. This proposal was supported by Japan and, at the 157th session of WP.29 in June 2012, the Groupe de Travail "Bruxelles 1952" (GTB) presented an initial proposal on how this could be achieved. The first stage of their proposed process involved consolidating all of the existing UN ECE Regulations on lamps and reflectors into three new Regulations:
- A Regulation on light signalling devices, e.g. position lamps and direction indicators.
- A Regulation on road illumination devices, e.g. headlamps and front fog lamps.
- A Regulation on retro-reflecting devices, e.g. rear reflectors and side reflectors.
In 2014, the UN ECE Working Party responsible for lighting, the Working Party on Lighting and Light Signalling (GRE), set up a specific Informal Working Group to undertake the drafting of these three new UN ECE Regulations. This Informal Working Group, the Informal Working Group - Simplification of the Lighting and Light Signalling Regulations (IWG-SLR), met 25 times between September 2014 and July 2018 to draft these new Regulations and the results of their work were presented to WP.29 for final adoption in March 2019.
At its 177th session in March 2019, WP.29 adopted all three of these new Regulations and they were allocated the following numbers:
- UN ECE Regulation No. 148 - light signalling devices.
- UN ECE Regulation No. 149 - road illumination devices.
- UN ECE Regulation No. 150 - retro-reflecting devices.
The date of entry into force for these new Regulations has not yet been allocated, but their date of entry into force is expected to be around October 2019.
To allow for the transition between the existing UN ECE Regulations on lamps and reflectors and these new Regulations, at its 177th session, WP.29 also adopted new Series of Amendments to all of the existing UN ECE Regulations on lamps and reflectors. These new Series of Amendments specify the date after which it will no longer be possible to obtain new type approvals to the existing Regulations on lamps and reflectors. In all cases, this date is 24 months (2 years) after the date of entry into force of the new Regulations.