Share

AutoAttrezzati - Archive

05/03/2013
AUTOATTREZZATI

This year Pneurama is inaugurating a new feature: “AutoAttrezzati”, a constantly-open window on the garage equipment world that will keep transport vehicle servicing professionals updated on changes in the sector’s complex regulations.
It is not intended simply to be an exercise in law, but primarily a moment of pragmatic reflection and analysis that will frequently include the voices of Italy’s garage equipment manufacturers. The person in charge of the feature is in fact a professional and expert on the sector and a consultant at AICA, the Italian association of garage equipment manufacturers, Massimo Brunamonti.

New inspections in Europe: the Council of Ministers overturns the European Commission’s proposal for a new regulation
On 20 December 2012, the European Council of Ministers announced its position with regard to the European Commission’s proposed regulation on motor vehicle road worthiness tests, which would have led to a new “community” discipline.
A quick reminder of the terms of the original proposal: as part of the Community’s objective of halving fatal road accidents by 2020, the Commission proposed the adaptation of road worthiness tests with regard to: the inclusion of two-wheeled vehicles and trailers, the increase in test frequency, especially for vehicles with a higher risk, the adaptation of tests in accordance with technological evolution, the introduction of “international” electronic registers of vehicle registration data, and the introduction of a system for roadside checks (for more information, see the article “Stricter checks for saving lives”, Pneurama 5/2012). The proposal aimed at the standardization of documents by Member States for reciprocal recognition in the future.
Overall, the Commission’s proposal appears to be well thought out and organically structured, especially when we consider the current framework’s considerable lack of homogeneity. But the European Council does not seem to be of the same opinion; several of the main parts of the proposal were modified and in many ways made it devoid  of content.
The first and most significant action requested by the Council is the conversion of the regulation into a directive; for those not directly involved in the sector, this means that it would not come into force directly, but must first be converted into law by each Member State. The Council is not in favour of electronic certificates and even excludes from inspections motorcycles and trailers for vehicles under 3.5 tons, categories that had been introduced through the courage and determination of the Commission .
The other fundamental point is the lack of a guarantee that manufacturers of equipment for roadworthiness tests can access technical information. In an evolved technological framework it is hard to see why there should not be a guarantee that the tests have been implemented correctly.
Lastly, many of the new tests that were introduced to adapt inspections to correspond to the technical evolution in vehicles were cancelled with a return to the standard defined in 1996; perhaps the European Council thinks that the vehicles on today’s road are the same as those of 17 years ago?
In general, the position of the Council shows a lack of courage and restricted vision and contrasts sharply with the Commission’s intention to protect citizens; almost as though safety “cost too much”.
But perhaps not all is lost: the Commission’s proposal  is now being examined by the Transport Committee (TRAN) of the European Parliament, which will express its position in March 2013. In the meantime, work began with a public hearing in Brussels on 22 January. We cannot but be cheered by the good reception of many of our positions, which obviously reflect the requests of citizens who are increasingly concerned about sustainable mobility in the Union. Evidently, Parliament, the only elected body in the European structure, is in some way able to interpret the will of the people.
The hope is that the European Parliament is able to breathe some life into a proposal that for once amazed us with its courage and vision. According to the European Commission “we cannot allow ourselves to compromise on safety and we look to the European Parliament to increase the checks of vehicles that are most at risk on our roads and save lives.”

Stalemate for new MCTCNet2 inspection system?
In circular 29514 of 30 October 2012, the Ministry of Transport postponed until 1 March 2013 the presentation of requests for verifying the adaptation of MCTCNet2 equipment for roadworthiness tests. A kind of “tragedy” that was, unfortunately, predicted by AICA at the experimentation stage in November-December 2011. The experimentation was urged (to give it credit) by the Ministry of Transport, but if on the one hand it brilliantly achieved the purpose of demonstrating that MCTCNet2 is functional and effective, on the other hand, it  revealed the complexity of the system and this was not a good omen for the time required to homologate the software and the equipment.  Unfortunately, the pessimists were proved right. The long delays accumulated during the technical verification of the PC station and booking PC software not only cannot be recouped, but in our opinion could lead to considerable delays in the subsequent stages of updating equipment homologation.
The postponement is not the only sore point in the abovementioned Ministerial circular. The communication was followed by a series of amendments to the technical-functional specifications for MCTCNet2, which were considered necessary because of the problems that came to light during software verification.  If on the one hand it is not possible to make the best of a bad job, on the other hand we cannot but point out that on-going amendments like these add to the work of the constructors and increase the problems of verification by the representatives of the Ministry of Transport, which already has a serious shortage of resources. If we want to respect the timing it is absolutely necessary, first and foremost, not to touch anything; let’s not forget that, very wisely, MCTCNet2 was set up so that it could be updated electronically, as permitted by the state of the art and in a way that we have become accustomed to in the computer world.  This will be the method that must be used from now on for a kind of MCTCNet2 2.0, when it is necessary and appropriate.
We repeat AICA’s concerns about when MCTCNet2 will come into force; with regard to the software for the test line PC and office PC, of the 25 packages presented for homologation it would seem that not more than two had completed verification by the end of 2012, leaving the vast majority of the packages still to be finished by 31 March 2013!  If at 31 March there are further delays or, even worse, there are not enough homologated products available, we could be faced with an embarrassing and awkward situation for the market.

HFO-1234yf, the new refrigerant gas for cars: why hesitate?
The implementation of Directive 2006/40/EC on the mandatory use of new, less polluting  gases for vehicle air conditioning systems, as we know, came to a halt due to last year’s problems with the production of HFO-1234yf gas. The earthquake on 11 March 2011, which put the factory in Japan out of operation, and start-up problems at the production site in China, have led to a situation of almost total product non-availability.  In the circular of 8 April 2012,  the European Commission wisely allowed vehicles that were not in compliance with the new directive to be put on the market throughout 2012, and deliberated a departure from the regulation by which the suppliers of these vehicles would not be subject to infringement procedures.
The initiative seemed commendable and appropriate given that various Member States had already taken initiatives that led to uncertainty and confusion. However, it is a fact that someone seized the opportunity to reopen the whole question.  A leading car manufacturer began new tests with the purpose of demonstrating that the new gas had characteristics that would make it dangerous and should be abandoned; the same manufacturer also declared its intention not to use the new HFO gas in at least one class of its vehicles.
What will happen now? The directive is clear and the European Commission has already stated its position by confirming the terms of the postponement at 31 December 2013. The ball is now in the court of the national authorities that are responsible for monitoring the application of regulations. We hope that everything goes in accordance with the current laws that also protect firms, including the builders of gas recharging stations, for which Italy is the leader in Europe and the world. After making significant investments they began mass production some time ago for a purpose – to bring about a reduction in CFC pollution that will be decisive for the future of the planet.

back to archive