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AICA welcomes the final adoption of Europe’s new motor vehicle type-approval measures that make OBD systems mandatory

Massimo Brunamonti

AICA welcomes the final adoption of Europe’s new motor vehicle type-approval measures that make OBD systems mandatory

As previously reported in this column in the March/April 2018 issue, the legislative procedure for new European motor vehicle type-approval measures, recently debated in the European Parliament, has finally reached a conclusion.

On the 22nd May the European Council adopted the new regulation that will soon come into effect after being published in the Official Journal of the European Union, following the approval of the European Parliament, which took place roughly a month earlier.

The new measures were approved by a large majority (547 votes in favour, 83 against and 16 abstentions), following a long debate with the Commission and the European Council, caused by a whole series of new type-approval procedures that, at first, met with the opposition of a significant part of the Parliament.

AICA welcomes this result with satisfaction, the result of an intense work in raising the public’s awareness on emissions control measures as well as new OBD standards.

The new regulation in fact includes the mandatory use of OBD systems and guarantees free access to repair and maintenance information necessary for all independent operators, thus enhancing the principle of free and fair competition for the benefit of all citizens.

The new regulation thus approved contains a number of new measures which update the previous legal framework, including spot-checks carried out directly by the Commission on vehicles already in circulation.

The regulation will enter into force from 1st September 2020 and will cover all newly approved vehicles sold on European markets.


Egea and Figiefa along with other Associations present a manifesto for fair digitisation opportunities

At a time when more and more cars are becoming digital and connected, a broad coalition of trade associations, led by Egea and Figiefa, issued a manifesto in favour of legislative initiatives aimed at protecting free and fair competition, a crucial issue for several mobility service operators.

The coalition includes a rather large group of associations in representation of a sector that has always been rather sensitive to the problem; with Egea and Figiefa many other associations including Cecra, Fia, Insuranceeurope, Leaseurope, Cita, Adpa and others, have considered it opportune to adhere to the initiative to underline the importance of the matter at hand.

The problem is the quality and distribution of products and services that aftermarket operators requires in the current scenario increasingly affected by the presence of connected cars; quality starts from and depends on the data generated by every vehicle. Real time data and functions as well as the ability to interact with drivers and passengers, cannot be controlled or regulated by vehicle manufacturers only, but must be open, freely accessible for independent operators such as multi-brand workshops. The only way in which new digital products and services can become available in the market in a spirit of free and fair competition for the benefit of the motorists.

But will this freedom be guaranteed by the "Extended Vehicle" concept so strongly supported by car manufacturers? In all sincerity, we have some serious doubts about it, especially in light of what is already happening; an example of this is access to OBD ports, which some are already restricting, in spite of rules and regulations currently in force. As of now, access is already rather limited, when at all possible, and managed directly by car manufacturers; how could such a set up, clearly one-sided, offer any guarantee of fair competition? In addition to this more than justified concern, other problems, of a technical nature, have become so evident that one cannot help wondering how could those who planned the Extended Vehicle policy not notice it. We are talking about real time data and processes, non-viable in such a web-based structure, and this applies to all diagnostic services.

The solution that Egea, Figiefa and the other subscribers of the manifesto are proposing is an ‘in-vehicle interoperable, standardised, secure and open-access platform’ accessible to all operators, whether independent or not, without any serious issues with data security and privacy as these are guaranteed by well-tested defence mechanisms already responsible for protecting huge amounts of data in other sectors (banking, insurance and commercial).

Now is the time to act, says the manifesto, at a time when the introduction of the eCall (automatic emergency call) system, mandatory on all new vehicles, makes the full number of new vehicles on the market already connected and ready to host the digital platform. It is no coincidence, in fact, that right now, in Brussels, the Third mobility package (for connected and autonomous vehicles) is being prepared, the ideal setting for laying the legislative foundations to guarantee the right to free and equal access to vehicles and passengers without restrictions and limitations of any kind imposed by anyone bent on undermining the citizens’ right to freedom of choice.

The recent adoption of a new European type-approval regulation for new vehicles, which fortunately includes the now mandatory OBD port, represents a new chapter in the on-going remote diagnostic support saga, a crucial issue for smart and sustainable mobility. In this context, the associations are soliciting the European Commission to, first and foremost, ensure that at this stage, free and non-discriminatory access is guaranteed to all independent suppliers and operators, enabling them to offer their services openly and freely, in full respect of current security and privacy laws. It should not be difficult for the legislator to confirm these basic principles within the new legal measures, in view of the fact that these reflect the very principles that constitute the European Union.


Mandatory e-Call system on all new vehicles

The European regulation on automatic emergency call (e-Call) is now in force on all cars registered as of March 31, 2018.

The e-Call is a digital system for dialling the European emergency number 112, through the European satellite system "Galileo", which activates automatically in the event of a serious accident. This system, which can also be used manually, sends a limited but vital set of technical and geo-location data based on which emergency teams can quickly and effectively spring into action.

Following intensive testing, the e-Call is estimated to reduce the time of the intervention by more than 50%, a real “lifesaver” in case of serious injuries where speed and efficiency makes the difference between life and death. If we consider that in 2016 alone about 25,000 people lost their lives on European roads and more than 135,000 reported serious injuries, we understand the legitimate expectations on the contribution that the e-Call system can make towards the health and well-being of European citizens.

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