EGEA General Assembly in Brussels
EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association) held its semi-annual general meeting on November 10, 2016 in Brussels during which a new Board of Directors was elected with a two-year term. The elected members are the representatives of AFIBA Spain (Jaume Berenguer), AICA Italy (Massimo Brunamonti), ASA Germany (Frank Beaujean), FMA Belgium (Michel Vervekken), GEA UK (Dave Garratt), RAI Netherlands (Leon Andriessen) and GIEG France (Thierry Coton). The Board then proceeded to appoint Jaume Berenguer as the new president. Turning to the proceedings, the assembly centered on the many activities currently taking place and the consequent need for proper management of them all. The Assembly, following a proposal from the Board, decided to carry out a survey among the national associations by means of a questionnaire that the secretariat will prepare and distribute in order to gather the opinions of the various stakeholders which will be used to set the Association’s priorities for the next biennium.
During the meeting a number “hot issues” were placed on the table. The reluctance to act by the European Commission on the introduction of new vehicle inspection functional tests caused no little concern; perhaps a new working group will be created for this specific need. On the other hand, the activities of the 2030 GEAR Committee are attracting much interest and EGEA, very active on this front, is already present in two different and dedicated working groups; a document will be issued during the upcoming Industry 4.0/Connectivity/Internet workshop to be held by AICA in Bologna in February 2017.
During the Assembly the activities of the various working groups were presented, starting with Working Group 1 (vehicle lifting equipment) which turned the lights on PROSAFE, a new European initiative: a monitoring activity on lifting equipment aimed at guaranteeing safety and compliance with the Machinery Directive, made necessary by a lack of a proper control by individual member states.
Working Group 2 (diagnostics /emissions /OBD) reported on is activities performed in collaboration with CITA on new emission test proposals as well as the work performed at European level, in close cooperation with the C-ITS Committee, on data platforms.
Working Group 4 (wheel/tire service equipment), for its part, is currently dealing with the standardization of safety regulations on tire changers at European level.
On Braking and Suspension Testing, the 6th Working Group is about to finalize the technical specs for suspension tests to be followed by a proposal to the EU Commission for one continental standard.
Working Group 9 (Mobile air-conditioning systems) has launched the process for issuing an "EGEA" marking for R1234yf gas A/C stations.
The possible agreement with Asanetwork for a standard network protocol for garage equipment is the product of the 10th Working Group (European Vehicle Test Equipment Network) which is currently negotiating the availability of such an open-source tool on a non-onerous basis.
Vehicle testing inspectors: role and requirements according to the 2014/45 Directive
Activities on the application of the European Directive 2014/45 on vehicle inspection tests are well under way in view of its forthcoming presentation to the Parliament. During the three meetings held between July and December 2016 a number of relevant issues were addressed with the contribution of trade associations such as AICA, Italian Garage Equipment Manufacturers Association.
Among the main topics discussed, the Administration has identified the two responsible bodies provided for within the Directive: the Motor Vehicle General Directorate as the National Competent Authority for vehicle inspection and the Local Departments as the Supervisory Bodies for the inspection centers themselves. The General Directorate will have the right to issue executive decrees to ensure, at the same time, operational flexibility and standard behavior.
Article 13 came under close scrutiny, given the significant role the Directive assigns to the inspectors. In fact, the word “inspector” must be applied to two well two distinct figures: one is directly employed by the Local Department and is in charge of verifying the qualifications and methods of each testing center, while the other one corresponds to the vehicle testing inspector in each testing Center. For both, the Directive stipulates precise requirements of competence and impartiality, as well as special training and regular updates.
The vehicle testing inspector, directly employed by the testing center, will also need specific training, require competence and impartiality, and will have to undergo timely updates. As for the training, the Directive provides all the necessary details, to the point that the Motor Vehicle General Directorate does not exclude a university type education. In addition, the latter is studying, together with the Politecnico of Milan, the possibility of establishing a specific undergraduate degree course covering not only technical subjects, but also legal and organizational requirements as specified in the Directive. Furthermore, a dedicated training program is currently under examination to allow existing vehicle inspectors to preserve their jobs.
A rather sensitive and much debated issue during the meetings dealt with the requirement of impartiality provided in the European Directive. How is such impartiality to be implemented is not described in the Directive which merely defines the concept. The issue is on the table and will also affect, as far as inspection centers are concerned, the compatibility of these requirements with what is stated in the 122/92 Law. In fact, under this Law, along with the circular letter n° 88, at present the same figure can fill both roles as a repair specialist and vehicle inspector. The question is whether the impartiality requirement means that someone responsible for repairing a vehicle should not be the same person performing an inspection check. In other words, is it acceptable that those who work on a vehicle can, at the same time inspect it, thus joining inspector and inspected together?
As expected this triggered major discussions on the importance that this issue plays and will play in economic terms as well as on how vehicle inspections should be managed, especially as different positions within the same professional inspection associations are currently being held. While some seem to be more preoccupied with containing costs and workloads, others claim that the higher the competence, the greater will the protection of the business be, enhancing the quality of service by imposing greater restrictions on those who operate in a superficial manner. The issue of impartiality may be addressed in different ways: rules and criteria could be applied entirely, such as the ISO / IEC standards 17020, 17024 and 17025; but the question is whether this should be considered absolutely necessary since impartiality must be guaranteed on each individual operation and not necessarily on the inspection center itself.
To date we have no indication of any such decision by the administration. The implementation process includes the conversion into law by May 2017, and its enforcement from May 2018 with a five year window to up-grade all the facilities concerned; the General Directorate of Motor Vehicles has, therefore, plenty of time to complete the work.
ACEA Conference: EGEA and “Independents” to protect free competition in the industry
During a conference organized on December 1, 2016 by ACEA (European Association of Automobile Manufacturers) and CLEPA (Association of first-tier parts suppliers), with the presence of some EU members, ACEA presented its proposal for the so-called "Extended Vehicle" (see article "European manifesto for fair vehicle data access in a united digital market", (Autoattrezzati) published in Pneurama 5-2016). The proposal, recently signed in Germany by Bosch, Hella-Guttman and Continental, plans to channel all communications and data via servers owned by the manufacturer of the vehicle in order to guarantee upgradeability, accessibility, data security and privacy protection; the consequence of such a solution, though, would be that of limiting, if not closing completely, any direct connection to the vehicle through its OBD interface.
ACEA’s approach inevitably met with much heated opposition, especially from operators in the independent sector including spare parts dealers, garages, insurers and, not least, EGEA (European Garage Equipment Association) all demanding the opportunity to have free access to data on a competitive basis to offer their services for the benefit of the end-users. ACEA’s proposal appears to EGEA as well as others, a dangerous instrument to be used by vehicle manufacturers to gain an unfair advantage, if not a monopoly, over the market. A small detail: it is rather amusing to see how ACEA underlines the need for privacy protection, now championing the cause, after years of heavy intrusions by its associated manufacturers! Similar reasons as the ones proposed by ACEA can easily point to other equally if not more effective solutions but, as it happens, not under the manufacturer’s control. An example is the standard interoperable platform, promoted by AFCAR, and currently the object of in-depth study by the European Commission.
The debate which followed during the conference bordered on the farcical with ACEA representatives determined to create a climate of fear talking about the dangers of hacking and intrusion of privacy. Even worse, Frank Schlehuber, representative of CLEPA, who previously sided with AFCAR on behalf of the "extended vehicle", gave everyone the silent treatment thus favoring ACEA's position which, in turn, hinted at the EU members in attendance that there were no friction on the matter, that no new OBD legislation would be required as the sector itself would be quite able to strike an agreement.
Given the rather alarming situation threatening the whole sector, EGEA saw fit to quickly forge a coalition with other associations such as ADPA (Association of Data Publishers), CECRA (European Council for Motor Trades and Repair) FIA (International Automobile Federation), FIGIEFA (independent Automotive Aftermarket Distributors), Insurance Europe (European insurance and reinsurance federation) and Leaseurope (European Federation of Leasing Company Associations). The alliance obviously supports AFCAR’s solution for an interoperable, standardized platform which was proven to be more practical and functional.
Make no mistake, the battle will still rage on for a while: we hope that the Lawmakers have learned an important lessons from the Dieselgate on car manufacturer’s ability to ensure data security against counterfeiting, whether voluntary or not.