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Mot inspections in europe – the commission's priorities for new tests

Massimo Brunamonti

Almost 4 years after the 2014/45 Directive was first introduced, we have now finally reached the operational phase with, on the one hand the different member states and how they intend implementing  the directive and, on the other the European Commission busy confirming the validity of such initiative.

As we know, the Directive, which was not imagined as a static set of regulations, but rather as a measure subject to continuous upgrading before its final implementation in 2023, takes into account two fundamental stages: the first being the adoption of such measure by each member state and the second the issuing by the European Commission of a whole series of decrees, refinements or additional tests, if necessary, to respond to the legitimate demands for safety and environmental protection by European citizens, especially after the Dieselgate scandal.

The transposition of the Directive at National level does not appear to be as automatic as one would have expected. The Commission in fact, on January 28, requested six member states (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Romania and Slovakia), to fully adopt the so-called 2014 "road safety package", by May 20, 2017 at the latest; this same operation was completed in time by the Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport. However, as yet, the aforementioned six member states have not, or have only partially, implemented the measures, and have three months to reply before judicial measures are taken, in line with the current legislation.

On the other hand, as far as new roadworthiness tests or any changes to the existing ones, a hot topic at the moment, a recent seminar was jointly organized by the Polish Technical Transportation Supervision Authority (TDT) and the Dutch vehicles authority (RDW). The aim of the seminar was to examine both the implementation of the 2014/45 Directive in Europe, as well as to examine possible solutions for some of the thorniest issues, namely the manipulation of emission control systems, alternative fuels and new lighting systems.

The seminar, which took place on March 8 - 9, welcomed the competent authorities of all EU member states as well as any non-profit organization involved. The event was broadly attended and included the participation of EGEA on behalf of all European Garage Equipment Manufacturers, with one notable exception: the absence of any Italian government delegation.

Many different issues came under the magnifying lens, including a few not accounted for in the original agenda, which is not surprising given the complexity of the topics.

The seminar started from what can rightly be considered some of the hottest issues currently under examination by Brussels, namely the manipulation of mileage readings and assessing the presence and condition of emission-reducing devices such as EGR valves, particulate filters and Adblue additives.

As far as the manipulation of mileage readings is concerned, all in attendance simply took note of the fact we that the European Commission is preparing a new legislative measure scheduled for 2018 and news are expected soon.

Greater attention, as expected, was paid towards the other topics in the agenda, and specific initiatives deemed necessary. The manipulation of Adblue additives and tachographs, which often go hand in hand, have now reached non-negligible dimensions throughout Europe with an average 10% of cases but with peaks of over 20% in countries such as, for example, Northern Ireland.  AdBlue manipulation, in an attempt to save on the cost of the additive, is for the most part obtained through Adblue emulators or by reprogramming the control unit. To effectively restrict such behaviours, besides sanctions and bans, there is a need for timely and effective vehicle inspections both as regular roadworthiness checks or roadside inspections.

EGEA specialists suggested an effective, quick and economic inspection procedure through OBD diagnosis; the temperature and pressure values of the Adblue, available in the system, could be easily diagnosed through multi-brand testers thus verifying the presence of a manipulation. The Commission should simply make the availability of such data in OBDs mandatory.

Switching to lighting systems, given the sophisticated systems now commonly found on most vehicles, headlight adjusting tools currently in use are no longer sufficient; a dynamic quality control procedure of the whole lighting system is now required.

As far as emissions, the discussion verged on a simple yet non-trivial observation: up to 2009, emissions were the direct consequence of the quality of combustion; since then, the reduction in emissions has been determined by post-combustion filtering. The difference is anything but irrelevant: first, considering traditional inspection equipment, an opacimeter can no-longer be considered fit for the job. What need to be tested are solid yet volatile particulates. Studies are currently underway in several European countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, and the first results are expected by April-May.

Furthermore, EGEA took the opportunity to highlight some additional aspects related to inspection equipment used in periodic inspections and in particular the fact that, except for the Exhaust CO analyzer specified in the MID Directive, there are no common European standards; each country is free to define its own standard. This generates a multitude of changes and procedures with the only tangible result of generating additional costs for the operators, which are frankly difficult to understand if one considers that the technology used in both motor vehicles and inspection equipment is the same all over the world.



Obd access electronic certification – how to guarantee safety and free and fair competition in the repair business


The script, unfortunately, is well known: car manufacturers are bent on restricting access to OBD diagnostic ports only to those who use proprietary equipment, in spite of what has been ratified, albeit not yet regulated, by measures such as the new BER or the Euro 5/6 regulation.

The idea is to block any connection to the OBD interface unless you have an electronic access certification, obtainable only through the manufacturer's server, which reserves the right to grant it at its own discretion.

EGEA and AFCAR were quick to point out how this practice goes against the spirit of the current legislation, not as far as the electronic certificate in itself, but on how it is implemented and managed. An electronic certificate that regulates access and guarantees privacy, security and puts an end to tampering practices is actually desirable; this certificate, however, must be available to all qualified operators, and standardized among all manufacturers so as to avoid the predictable proliferation of rules and access formats aimed at putting independent garages out of the game thus restricting free and fair competition.

The European Commission is hard at work on it and, during a recent meeting of a dedicated working group, introduced its draft program to all member states. The key points related to the ISO 18541 standard on information exchange and the mention of SERMI (association promoting standardized free access through hardware keys and electronic certificates) as a regulatory forum for common, organized and independent access criteria. The Commission's program is expected to be included in a special decree scheduled for June.

Even the European Parliament established, as of last February 20, that the Commission must develop within the year an adequate legislative framework aimed at guaranteeing competitive, non-restricted and non-discriminatory access to technical data for the entire mobility sector as a contribution to modernizing infrastructures, public transport and services as well as protecting consumer rights.

EGEA, and its Italian member AICA, express their satisfaction with this parliamentary initiative and hope that it will be successful within the prescribed deadlines.



Egea label– a quality mark for garage equipment


European garage equipment manufacturers have long pursued a quality policy for their products in order to offer modern, state-of-the-art equipment which represent an opportunity for repairers to provide quality services, meeting the needs and demands of today’s motorists.

EGEA, the European Garage Equipment Association, has defined a quality protocol for state-of-the-art equipment that can thus obtain the “EGEA QUALITY LABEL”.

The outline is as follows: following the standards defined by EGEA, any manufacturer that decides to comply with this standard can submit its product to technical tests performed by independent laboratories. The results of these tests are then presented to EGEA which, if positive, will issue an EGEA LABEL for that specific product.

Both equipment manufacturers and garages can look forward to obtaining such quality certification. The manufacturers will thus comply with the industrial standards developed by the leading experts in the field. Car repairers, on the other hand, will likewise benefit from using state-of-the-art tools and equipment that guarantee the quality of their services.

This quality certification will find its first practical application in R1234y A/C recharging stations. Manufacturers who wish to certify their equipment with the EGEA LABEL may do so right away, following the available instructions.

The EGEA LABEL will not be limited to air conditioning recharging stations only; other fields of application are already planned in the near future. A number of EGEA working groups are working in various fields to offer to car repairers as many reference product as possible.

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