Updates to EU Requirements on Special Purpose Vehicles Proposed
Since its original publication, EC Directive 2007/46/EC on European type approval, also known as the Framework Directive, has always contained specific requirements for "special purpose vehicles". Initially, 2007/46/EC contained specific requirements for motor caravans, ambulances, hearses, armoured vehicles, wheel chair accessible vehicles, mobile cranes and "other special purpose vehicles", with requirements for exceptional load transport trailers being added at a later date. The detailed requirements for these special purpose vehicles are contained in Annex XI of the Directive and take the form of exemptions and relaxations from the requirements that "non-special purpose" vehicles are required to meet, as specified in Annex IV of 2007/46/EC.
Annex IV of 2007/46/EC had to be significantly updated in 2012 (EU Regulation No. 1229/2012) as a result of the publication of 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known as the General Safety Regulation or GSR) which introduced requirements for a number of new safety features and repealed a large number of the "separate" EC Directives, replacing them with references to the equivalent UN ECE Regulations.
Following the update to Annex IV of 2007/46/EC, the European Commission recognised the need to also review and update the special purpose vehicle requirements contained in Annex XI, and in September 2012 set up a special sub-group to undertake this task. This sub-group has now met four times and, at the Technical Committee - Motor Vehicles (TCMV) meeting on 8th May 2013, the European Commission presented their first draft of a Regulation to update the special purpose vehicle requirements contained within Annex XI of 2007/46/EC.
In this draft Regulation, the European Commission are proposing to introduce the following two new categories of special purpose vehicle:
- Exceptional load transport motor vehicle, i.e. the tractor unit of a vehicle combination designed for the transport of exceptional loads.
- Multi-equipment carrier, i.e. an off road vehicle designed for pulling, pushing, carrying and actuating certain interchangeable equipment.
With regard to the proposed updates to Annex XI itself, the European Commission have attempted to ensure that the stringency of the requirements applicable to special purpose vehicles is maintained at the current level, taking into account the relatively small numbers of such vehicles in circulation and the relatively small size of the companies involved in the production of such vehicles. To this end, the draft Regulation proposed some fairly generous relaxations and exemptions regarding the fitment of the new safety features required by EC Regulation No. 661/2009, such as electronic stability control (ESC) systems, advanced emergency braking systems (AEBS) and lane departure warning systems (LDWS).
It is proposed that compliance with the amended requirements introduced by this draft Regulation will become mandatory for new types of special purpose vehicle twenty days after its official publication, whilst type approvals to the previous requirements would cease to be valid from 1st November 2014 unless those type approvals have been updated in accordance with the amended requirements introduced by this draft Regulation.