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12/09/2017

Massimo Brunamonti

EMISSIONS AND APPROVALS: WORK IN PROGRESS THROUGHOUT EUROPE             

Large activities in May 2017 throughout Europe, both in Brussels as well as various member countries, on emission control and motor vehicle approval.

On May 31, the European Commission presented "Europe on the move", a series of initiatives aimed at making traffic safer, smoother and cleaner, reducing CO2 emissions, air pollution and congestion. In addition, “Europe on the move” aims also to cut down on red tape, contrast illicit labour practices  and ensure improved conditions for industrial workers. No lack of ambition here, and the projects is additionally looking at promoting long-term benefits that go far beyond the transport sector alone: more jobs, social growth and greater  investment is what is expected to take place when Europe sets its sights firmly on the path of low emissions. A first set of eight Laws regulating the road transport market aims to improve the social and working conditions of the industry. Within a year, further new initiatives will deal with post-2020 emission standards for cars and vans, heavy trucks with the consequent monitoring of fuel consumption and CO2 production of these latter ones.

The EU Council, on May 29, agreed on a general approach to reform the type approval system and national vehicle fleet monitoring, which, of course, includes emission control. All this, as we know, stems from a number of issues that have come to light in the recent past, such as the Diesel-gate, and the consequent need to adapt the whole approval / inspection system to new technologies. The greatest news are found in  three operational areas: the technical quality of the approval tests prior to market entry, monitoring the market  and compliance of currently circulating vehicles  and supervising the registration process.

A very different ball game was played during Britain's public consultation held on May 5 by the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the theme "Improving air quality: Draft UK plan on tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities". In fact, the United Kingdom complains about concentrations of pollutants above the maximum admissible. Consultations have highlighted how "emission management" is the most effective way to solve the problem, while little or no emphasis has been placed on emission testing.

In Holland the TNO, organization for applied scientific research, published a study prepared for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment on May 1 entitled "Investigation into a Periodic Technical Inspection (PTI) test method to check for presence and proper functioning of diesel particulate filters in light-duty diesel vehicles". The study is based on the assessment of current test procedures, which unfortunately produces poor results due to the low sensitivity of the equipment used, and consequently the results do not equate with the real particulate emissions. The study carried out inspections on 14 different Euro 3, 4, 5 and 6 vehicles and the results obtained allowed to develop a new procedure able to detect faulty DPFs that were either malfunctioning or even removed. In the end, the TNO recommends developing new improved measuring tools and in the meantime use the existing ones extensively as a deterrent against the failure to maintain or remove the DPF.

Finally, the French Ministry of the Environment published the final report of the "Royal Commission" on diesel emissions on May 5, 2017. This report is complementary to the first work published in the summer of 2016 on the results of UTAC’s  survey on harmful emissions and CO2 measured on a sample of 86 vehicles. This latest report focuses on additional tests on five Euro 5 EGR cars and five Euro 6 diesel vehicles. The results of the study will be submitted to the competent transport and industry authority to improve air quality at national level.

Many are the initiatives following the growing awareness on environmental problem by European citizens. We hope that this rush of activities will finally end up in a common view  that will transform Europe into a bastion for sustainable mobility.

 

 

EGEA LABEL, QUALITY MARK FOR A/C RECHARGING STATIONS.                                                                

EGEA. European Garage Equipment Association, has recently launched its quality "EGEA LABEL", designed and developed to guarantee the quality of R1234yf (HFO) gas recharging stations.

The idea came up a few years ago with the introduction of the new refrigerant R1234yf and the well-known problems associated with it. The R1234yf gas, which is a lot less polluting than the previous R134, must be adequately handled and the recharging stations require tailor made building and functional features due to its high flammability. EGEA, through its 9th working group established a pool of industry experts and professionals who have defined a number of features to which recharging stations must conform; These specifications are summarized in the EGEA document and must be complied with.

Each manufacturer may request the granting of the "EGEA label" for their products if they comply with the specifications outlined in directives such as EMC 2014/30 / EU (electromagnetic compatibility), LVD 2014/35 (EU Limited Voltage ) and PED 2014/68 / EU (pressure equipment). Product compliance to EGEA specifications (functional performance, reliability, design features, etc.) must be verified and documented by an independent body.

According to Jaume Berenguer Baquès, president of EGEA: "I place great trust in this quality label, created for experts by experts from renowned European producers of A/C recharging stations who have joined forces to define the specifications and compliance requirements that are summarized in the EGEA brand".

EGEA specs meets all the legal requirements and are designed to achieve a dual purpose: on the one hand, allow manufacturers to design and implement their own solution in a competitive manner, granting car repairers the freedom to identify the equipment they need for their business in a constantly changing world. A number of recent cases can be recalled,  such as Honeywell's summon before the European anti-trust commission following a legal procedure by the Arkema group, or the fine imposed on Daimler Benz for non-compliance with HFO Gas Directive.

The purpose of the EGEA brand is precisely this: in an ever-changing world, garages requires certain basic guidelines; the purpose of EGEA LABEL is to ensure the use of suitable equipment for the work at hand. EGEA LABEL, therefore, highlights all its features, allowing the car-repair specialist to identify with certainty the type of product needed and freely choose the best offer.

The EGEA LABEL activity on A/C recharging stations will be extended to other types of garage equipment; EGEA has already activated other technical working groups to lay down the specifications for other types of equipment. Car repair professionals will thus be better informed and free to make their choice to protect their business.

 

 

EGEA STANDARDS ON SUSPENSION TESTS                     

Issues surrounding suspension tests have long been on the table of Europe’s responsible authorities on vehicle inspections. As it is well known, suspensions play a crucial role in vehicle safety : an inefficient or worn out suspension not only reduces driving comfort, but will also affect safety by compromising the tire’s footprint, and grip as a consequence, lengthening braking distances. A car with inefficient suspensions is a potential danger to road safety. Current brake tests, carried out during periodic roadworthiness checks do not actually bring into action the suspension system whose efficiency remains  largely unknown.

Several methods of suspension testing have been proposed over the years, but methodological uncertainty and discord between different solutions, some of which are owned by a number of manufacturers, have so far made it impossible to adopt one of them as a European standard. The Directive 2014/45 itself does not actually provide for a mandatory instrumental test , and the European Commission, aware of the problem, is still working on it.

And now, finally, someone has started to report major results on a large scale. This is the case of Belgium, which introduced mandatory suspension test on periodic roadworthiness inspections several years ago. The Belgian system, managed by GOCA, the national inspection authority, uses a testing equipment developed from the "old" EUSAMA method so popular in the 1960s. The equipment adds to the EUSAMA method, based on the  measuring of minimum dynamic loading  and wheel static loading, a “minimum phase shift”, the ratio of which is showed in a percentage that must fall within a set limit. The principle, in a nutshell, shows the ability of the suspension unit to keep the wheel  in contact with the road even in the most difficult situations.

EGEA, the European Garage Equipment Association has, for years now, been involved in everything that relates to equipment for roadworthiness tests, and has recently decided to create a specific working group with the aim of defining a product standard for such equipment, capable of representing a viable and cost-effective solution for anyone in Europe and around the world who wants to introduce suspension tests in their periodic vehicle inspection checks.

The original EUSAMA standard, modified with  the so-called "minimum phase shift", as originally proposed by the American SAE, and subsequently adopted by GOCA, provides the main framework. The purpose of EGEA's work is to define product specs, approval procedures and testing standards to be included in periodic tests of vehicles below 3.5 tonnes.

The Belgian experience encourages the choice: the method has been systematically operating since 2011 and since then, all circulating vehicles have and are being tested also as far as suspensions are concerned, which means about 4.5 million vehicles inspected every year. Single case studies and the resulting database is largely representative of the vehicles in circulation, so much so that it is now a model that can be used in any other European countries as well.

EGEA's work, still at the initial phase, should be completed over a period of about one year, at the end of which a text will be submitted to the competent European and national authorities.

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