APPROVED WHEELS FOR A SAFE AND FREE MARKET
The value, the application methods and the effects on the market stemming from the "Decreto Ruote" (Law decree on wheels), already in force since the beginning of the year and discussed during a Round Table at Autopromotec entitled "Wheel systems: standards, application and protection of legality": here's the report
A hot topic, and more relevant than ever before, was the focus of a debate during a round table that proved to be one of the most popular parts of the entire conference program of the Autopromotec event. The changes introduced by the Law Decree n. 20/2013, the so-called "Decreto Ruote", which regulates the national approval of steel and alloy wheels as well as light tuning came under the microscope. More specifically, it concerns the wording of the law that contains the "rules regulating the national approval of wheel systems and the appropriate procedures for their installation as replacements or integration of vehicle parts on new or already circulating cars”. A long-awaited legal framework, on the one hand to guarantee a minimum standard of quality and the safety of vehicles as well as road traffic, and on the other hand to free custom made and special wheel assembly operations (different from the original equipment or replacements approved by the manufacturer, i.e. different width or diameter) from any authorization by vehicle manufacturers. “So far – stated Renzo Servadei, CEO of Autopromotec, opening the debate – in our country a spirit of anarchy prevailed. But now the aftermarket wheel sector will benefit from clear and precise rules: clear cut rules that will allow sector specialists to operate without having to fear the unfair behavior of some”.
Only wheels with Nad or Unece 124 markings
"The Law Decree 20/2013 - echoed Corrado Bergagna, president of Assoruote, the Italian association of manufacturers of alloy and steel wheels - is an important first step in the desired direction". The "decreto ruote", which covers M1 vehicles (cars) and M1G (SUVs) and applies to special wheels and to identical replacements, replicas or partial replicas not already approved under the UNECE regulation 124, is in force since the 1st of January this year. However, to enable manufacturers to clear out their stocks, and in consideration of the market downturn due to the economic recession as well as the time required to complete the approval procedures, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has granted an exemption. Therefore, until September 30, whoever has already started the process of approval for its products and is registered in a special list, will be able to market the wheels in stock. "The day after the deadline - said Bergagna - all wheels sold in Italy will need the national Nad approval or be approved under the UNECE Regulation 124". Until a supranational European standard is issued, the Decree 20/2013 is to be considered the benchmark. In fact, "for special wheels - said Maurizio Vitelli, general manager of the Department of Motor Vehicles – we still do not have a Community legal framework. And with this decree Italy has filled what seemed an obvious gap". First and foremost in protecting the final buyers, since the new rules make fraudulent sales and counterfeiting far more difficult.
Declaration of conformity
The standard requires that whoever installs custom wheels must produce a declaration of installation to the customer thereby declaring that the work was performed according to the highest working standards, as well as a certificate of conformity of the wheels, obtained by the manufacturer. All this, of course, after choosing between the different combinations of suitable wheels and tires for a specific vehicle. "If the tire/wheel unit chosen - says Salvatore Napolitano, head of the Department of Land Transport - provides for tire sizes already included in the registration certificate, only the specialist’s declaration and the certificate of conformity need to be kept on board". An obligation that must be respected, in fact the absence of documents involves an administrative penalty, according to paragraphs 7 and 8 of Article 180 of the Traffic Code. "If a vehicle mounts wheels with tire sizes other than those mentioned in the vehicle registration certificate, the registration certificate must be updated by submitting an application at the DVLA (in the same province of the workshop where the installation was performed) and passing the relative inspection". The application (the fees amount to about forty Euro) must be supported by the declaration of installation and the certificate of conformity. If the vehicle inspection is positive, a label to be affixed on the registration certificate is issued specifying the alternative tires and the approval of the tire/wheel unit chosen. What is likely to happen if one is caught, in fault, by the Police? Both Articles 77 and 78 of the Traffic Code impose heavy penalties, the first one addressing conformity and approval while the second deals with modified vehicles.
From fines to vehicle seizure
Penalties range from monetary sanctions, for anyone who imports, produces and markets substandard components, to their seizure and confiscation, even if already installed on a vehicle. And if the infringement pertains to the failure to update the registration certificate, this will be seized from the driver. "So far - said Napolitano - we released about 200 national NAD approvals for special wheels. To those who do not understand why we do not accepted German approvals, the answer is that in Germany the regulatory framework is based on totally different principles; furthermore, their technical regulations only partly overlap ours, which requires further evidence to guarantee safety". To date, approvals from other countries are not recognized, although the Italian legislation leaves the door open for possible approvals after the proper inspections. As for certifications accepted abroad (for example the TÜV independent certifying body), these remain inadmissible because not issued by a ministerial body. Giorgio Muffatto, Vice President of EUWA’s Technical Committee, the Association of European Wheel Manufacturers that is currently working to uniform production standard, said: "we have noted that compared to UNECE Regulations, Italian standards provide for tests that we do not consider essential for safety, as well as the obligation to repeat the biennial factory certifications. Many of our members have decided not to cover the Italian market, as additional costs would be necessary. For this reason we aim to accelerate the adoption of a supranational EU regulation". Meanwhile, the decree 20/2013 could be updated. Among the open issues, one relates to wheels for vehicles out of production, since sales numbers do not justify the costs of the approval; following this, the possibility of recognizing as approved, for all vehicles of the same series, special wheels with sizes different from those already admitted in the vehicle registration certificate. “We are ready to evaluate - continues Napolitano - any proposals we may receive dealing with this issue ".
SPOTLIGHT ON LIGHT TUNING
The multitude of tuning fans can see new prospects following the "decreto ruote" (law decree on wheels). "We expect - said Corrado Bergagna, president of Assoruote - major changes on the market, once the norm has been fully assimilated. If manufacturers are currently focused on the approval processes, they soon will be engaging in massive information campaigns". A commitment toward both sector specialists and the general public, that was recognized by Assoruote, which has just published a leaflet entitled "Wheel unit regulations: wheel approval and light tuning", which provides answers to the most frequently asked questions, showing tuning fans how to proceed. On the site assoruote.it, from which you can download the leaflet, a list of companies that have received a dispensation to market the wheels in stock is available: the list includes companies such as Alcar Italia, Ambrosetti Ruote, Arcasting, Fondmetal, Mak , Oz and Uniwheels, not to mention Acacia, Eta Beta, Momo and Mw Aftermarket.