Motor Vehicles Directive

Motor Vehicles Directive

Table of Contents


The requirement for EC type-approval for access to the internal market used to apply to private cars, motorcycles, mopeds and agricultural tractors. The European Union is extending this system to all categories of motor vehicles designed and constructed in one or more stages for use on the road and also to the systems, components and separate technical units designed and constructed for such vehicles. More precisely, the Directive 2007/46/EC is aimed at commercial vehicles (vans, lorries, semi-trailers, trailers), buses and coaches.

The Directive: MVD 2007/46/EC

The European Union (EU) is revising the framework for the approval of motor vehicles with a new Directive (2007/46/EC), which repeals and replaces Directive 70/156/EEC in order to have a clearer, more coherent text based on the principle of proportionality. The new Directive retains (in revised form) the majority of the provisions of the former Directive but also introduces some entirely new concepts and requirements.

2007/46/EC Directive’s main aim is to improve road safety by introducing a number of compulsory devices, as:

  • ABS (anti-lock braking system),
  • New and more effective rear-view mirrors (including the new front rear-view mirror),
  • Improved lights,
  • Side protection to prevent cyclists or pedestrians from being dragged under vehicles and anti-spray devices.

Furthermore, it lays down additional requirements for buses and coaches:

  • Emergency exits must be adapted to the number of people which the vehicle can hold,
  • Greater ease of access for persons with reduced mobility,
  • Sufficient “survival space” in the event of the vehicle rolling over.

The Directive also focuses on various environmental obligations such as CO2 emissions, fuel consumption, engine power and smoke from diesel engines.

The provisions of the proposal will be implemented from 2009 and will be phased in gradually until 2014, depending on the category of vehicle. The aim of the transition periods is to enable the industry to gradually adapt its production systems to the new requirements and enable governments to deal progressively with the increased number of requests for type-approval.

Path to EU Market Entry: Compliance

Under the new Directive 2007/46/EC the manufacturer is responsible towards the approval authority for all aspects of the approval process and for ensuring conformity of production, whether or not the manufacturer is directly involved in all stages of the construction of a vehicle, system, component or separate technical unit. In the case of multi-stage type-approval, each manufacturer is responsible for the approval and conformity of production of the systems, components or separate technical units added at the stage of vehicle completion handled by him.

The manufacturer who modifies components or systems already approved at earlier stages shall be responsible for the approval and conformity of production of those components and systems.
ECWVTA – European Community Whole Vehicle-Type Approval This is the process by which prototype vehicles are tested to meet European safety and environmental standards defined by various European Directives.

The process includes an assessment of the vehicle production, to ensure that all subsequent vehicles of the specific type, meet the same specification (Homologation ISO 9001 / TS16949). Type approved vehicles are then deemed fit for production and sale within Europe.

Until now, only passenger cars, 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles and agricultural vehicles have been subject to ECWVTC, but over the next few years the process will be extended to cover all passenger and goods vehicles and trailers.

Type Approval Regulations into-force dates for specific vehicles types:

  • 29th October 2010 Minibuses, buses and coaches built in one stage of first stage of a multistage build.
  • 29th October 2011 Light vans and trucks built in one stage or first stage of a multistage build. Minibuses, buses and coaches built in multiple stages.
  • 29th April 2012 Passenger vehicle for “Special purposes” (e.g. motor caravans, ambulances and armored cars).
  • 29th October 2012 Medium/heavy vans, trucks and trailers built in one stage or first stage of a multi-stage build.
  • 29th April 2013 Light vans and trucks built in multiple stages.
  • 29th October 2013 Trailers built in multiple stages.
  • 29th October 2014 Medium and heavy trucks built in multiple stages and other special purpose vehicles, such as mobile cranes and trailer caravans.

A successful inspection will result in the issuance of ECWVTA certificate. This certificate will be accepted throughout the European Union without the need for further testing until standard is updated or a new certificate is required due to design changes.

Once a vehicle is approved, the manufacturer should have processes in place to produce a Certificate of Conformity (CoC) for each vehicle manufactured. (1999/37/EC CoC document valid for 27 European Community Member States).

Conformity of Production (CoP) is part of the approval process. Essentially, this involves the evaluation of the manufacturing process to ensure that each product is manufactured in accordance with the approval specification.

Reference is made to a formal quality system in place, such as ISO 9001 or ISO/TS 16949. Many areas of a vehicle are not covered by the approval and as such will not have impact on the type, so it is possible to include box vans, curtain-siders, tippers and flatbeds on the same approval and it may not matter if other equipments (such as cranes, etc.) were fitted.

Certification – Main steps of the Type Approval process are:

  • Application by the vehicle or component manufacturer;
  • Testing by a technical service;
  • Granting of the approval by an Approval Authority;
  • Conformity of Production by the manufacturer in agreement with the Approval Authority;
  • Certificate of Conformity by the manufacturer for the end-user.

Authorized Representative

At the discretion of the manufacturer, an Authorized Representative may be appointed by written mandate to undertake such activities as:

  • Keeping the Declaration of Conformity and the technical documentation available to the Competent Authorities at all times and for 10 years after the equipment is placed on the market
  • Accommodate any reasoned requests from the Competent Authorities relating the documentation or conformity of the pressure equipment
  • Cooperate with the Competent Authorities regarding and actions to be taken to eliminate and risks relate to the pressure equipment for which they are responsible under the mandate

The Authorized Representative should be clearly identified on the packaging to ensure efficient communication from end-users and EU economic operators in regards to the product(s) compliance.

The authorized representative may not draw up technical documentation as referred to in Article 6(2).

For non-EU manufacturers: Appoint a European Authorized Representative established within the European Community.

Post-Market Surveillance

It is the responsibility of each brand owner to continue to collect information related to use of their products after they have been made available to consumers as well as to ensure that they continue to comply as the legislation applicable to their products evolves.

Post-Marketing surveillance activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Staying up-to-date on new requirements or legislative changes
  • Continual updating of the technical file as modifications are made to the product
  • Reporting of any incidents related to the product use
  • Removal of non-compliant batches from EU economics operators and end-user
  • Keeping technical file available for 10 years after the last batch entered the EU market

Working with a professional Authorized Representative will help to ensure that the necessary actions are taken to ensure continued compliance and proper post-market surveillance.

Risks of Non-Compliance

Evidently, non-compliant products enter the EU Market everyday - whether the brand owner knowingly does so or due to a lack of knowledge imparted from EU importers/distributors.

As there is no "approval" in the EU Market, Competent Authorities focus almost exclusively on conducting systematic surveillance of products which are being made available on the market. This can include pulling products off of shelves, stopping products at customs or even deploying bots online to identify non-EU based e-commerce shops which mention that they ship to the EU Market.

Should you choose to take the risk to ship product to Europe which has not followed the required path to compliance as detailed above, you should also be prepared for the consequences.

The main consequences include, but are not limited to:

  • Being publicly reported to the RAPEX
  • Warehousing Fees
  • Requested Withdrawal
  • Mandated Withdrawal
  • Product Recall (from end-users and/or the market)
  • Complete ban on marketing of the product
  • Destruction of the product
  • Fines
  • Revocation of the CE Marking

Ultimately, the prescribed actions that are to be taken in the case that a product is found to be non-compliant will vary depending on the EU Competent Authority which identified the breach, the EU Member State, cooperation from the brand owner and the actions taken by the appointed Authorized Representative. Above all else, the professionalism and expertise of the appointed Authorized Representative in dealing with various Competent Authorities and handling such situations play a vital role in the successful recovery of your brand in the EU Market.

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