AICA and CUNA: together to promote quality of services and auto-equipment safety
For some time now AICA, Italian Garage Equipment Manufacturers Association, and CUNA, Technical Commission for Automotive Standardization, have been involved in a close collaboration on solving issues related to garage equipment.
CUNA is a non-profit association that deals with promoting unified technical standards in the field of road transport vehicles and related products. As part of UNI (National Unification Authority), CUNA deals with the definition and development of technical specifications and related documents with legal status and national validity (UNI standards) as well as international, in Europe (EN standards) and around the world (ISO standards), thus representing Italy within these bodies. CUNA includes among its members some of the most important names in the world of road transport, such as ANFIA, FCA not to mention IVECO among the manufacturers, competent Ministries such as the Ministries of Infrastructures and Transport, of the Interior, of Defence and Justice, besides other stakeholders associated such as ACI (Italian Automobile Club), several universities, sections of Confindustria (General Confederation of Italian Industries), and a number of other companies and associations operating in the automotive sector, including AICA itself.
Both AICA and CUNA have a common interest, i.e. operating on behalf of highly qualified garage equipment and services thus enabling the sector’s specialists to offer increasingly efficient, safe and advanced services. Hence the need for standards on products and the proper use of such, for which CUNA has always been a qualified and appreciated stakeholder both nationally and abroad through authorities such as ISO and CEN.
A number of past and present activities have been and are currently in progress in this field. The proposal for a CEN safety standard for heavy duty roller brake tests, already approved but currently undergoing partial modification, will be completed presumably by mid-2018. On the other hand, UNI safety standards on tire changers, published in 2017, is currently undergoing the necessary bureaucratic process to become a European standard. In addition to these initiatives, both associations are also involved on other issues such as access to technical data, periodic inspections and garage lift safety; all of these activities see AICA in the thick of things, as the association’s representatives are involved in a number of working groups where, thanks to their experience and expertise in designing and producing garage equipment, they contribute to the drafting of effective and applicable rules.
Among the most recent of CUNA’s endeavours, two hold a special interest in the world of car repair: regulating used equipment technical assessment and setting a minimum equipment list for car repair workshops. In both cases, these initiatives stem from a common sentiment among the sector’s specialists and are both aimed at protecting the citizen and his mobility needs.
Assessing used items responds to the citizen's need to make choices that are cost-effective besides ensuring operating safety and guarantee a good return from the investment.
The same applies to minimum equipment lists required for workshops to operate: citizens need greater guarantees when choosing someone that will take care of their vehicle, without having to suffer from the harassing attitude and position of monopoly by car manufacturers who are always looking at how to make more money on spare parts and after-sales services. The freedom to choose a qualified independent workshop, besides being a citizen's right, is vital for the health of the entire sector.
AICA and CUNA, although different in nature and purpose, share a highly specialized background able to guarantee that joint projects are carried out with the customary speed and concreteness typically associated with knowledge and skills. All that remains is to hope that this collaboration will continue and grow stronger, in the interest of the entire industry.
Vehicle type approval, direct EU supervision on emission controls
On December 7 last year, Brussels defined a “European” supervisory procedure, to be implemented by the Commission, to curb the level of harmful emissions issuing from all circulating vehicles as well as new registrations. The EU executive has thus being empowered to sanction any manufacturer whose vehicles are found not complying with the emission limits set out in the new regulations.
“We need a system that guarantees both quality and independence, better controls on currently circulating vehicles and a more thorough supervision at European level”, said Elzbieta Bienkowska, European Industry Commissioner.
In short the text states that, as of September 1, 2020, all vehicle type approval procedures must be supervised by Brussels and that all non-compliant vehicles be subjected to mandatory recalls with possible sanctions in the region of 30 thousand Euro for non-complying manufacturers. In addition, type approval procedures in each member state will undergo regular inspections following the strict parameters set out by the EU to ensure that the current regulatory framework is thoroughly applied throughout the Union. As far as vehicles already circulating on European roads, spot-checks will be performed on at least every 40 thousand vehicles, with emission tests on at least 20% of them.
What now remains to be establish is how to resolve a potential conflict of interests between type approval bodies and vehicle manufacturers who, after all, are the ones paying for the service. The introduction of inspections on type approval procedures and the resulting indirect relationship could solve the problem, but this and other aspects need to be clarified in the final draft of the measure.
The need for such an initiative was made clear by a series of events that led to what we all know as the Dieselgate, yet this did not prevent a few countries from trying to weaken the effectiveness of these measures. In fact, according to a Reuters report, seven member states, with Italy among them, suggested a number of conditions that would ultimately undermine the authority of the Commission as a control body. Germany, for example, sought to oppose such inspections by the Commission claiming that “any type of control would result in additional red tape without real benefits”. And France even went as far as proposing inspections so sporadic that would make the whole program basically useless.
The proposed measures are now approaching the final stage between the Council and the Commission; the overriding question, as reported by a number of EU diplomatic circles, is: “are we really keen to have the Commission poking its nose in the affairs of each National type approval authority? In the wake of the Dieselgate, saying no is proving increasingly difficult”.