ADAS: from EGEA a “Best Practice” for the repair sector
The sudden surge of driver assistance devices and systems (ADAS) is there for all to see, so much so that it has now become one of the most discriminating factors in car sales.
The car repair sector too is increasingly aware of this, as testified by the growth, witnessed during the last Autopromotec exhibition, in new workshop solutions, equipment and services.
However, not all that glitters is gold. The variety of devices and systems and the complexity of their maintenance and calibration procedures is such that EGEA, the European Garage Equipment Association, AICA being a member of it, has decided to set up a dedicated working group.
The new working group, called Working Group 2 - ADAS, has the goal of producing a technical-informative material aimed at supporting both the aftermarket, in carrying out its repair and maintenance activities, and law makers, if they so wish, in implementing new procedures to be introduced during regular MOT inspections.
The starting point is the general realization that the European Commission, with its third mobility package, is progressively making a significant number of ADAS compulsory on all newly registered vehicles.
As expected, this will have direct consequences on the entire after-sales sector, already called upon to adapt in terms of tailor-made training and equipment, something that car manufacturers have already started to arrange within their own networks.
But how could independent garages play the same game unless they equip itself with similar instruments and go through equivalent training? And this concerns not just the car repair sector in the strictest sense of the term, but all the aftermarket industry including roadside assistance, rentals, corporate fleets, spare parts, insurance companies, etc..
According to EGEA, in order to ensure that all these categories of operators will be able to carry out their work effectively, besides suitable equipment and technical information, a "Best Practice" approach will be equally necessary, promoting "the highest working standards" , protecting operators, even from a civil and criminal liability point of view, and helping them to act in accordance with the technical specifications of the vehicles and document all the steps taken.
An important aspect of working with ADAS is their inherent interconnection with many other parts and systems found in a vehicle. For this reason, no category of car repairs will be spared: any car repairer, regardless of the specialization, will have to make more or less important decisions on the work to be performed, from replacing a windscreen to aligning and calibrating the system. Today's ADAS are the basis for tomorrow's self-driving vehicles which will require the perfect functioning of the entire system and its devices, if we want to avoid endangering human lives.
Hence EGEA’s "Best Practice": a series of documents aimed at providing the sector with instructions, techniques, procedures, information and types of instruments and equipment necessary for the diagnosis and calibration of ADAS, ensuring the quality and consistency of the repair procedures in favour of greater road safety.
EGEA, thanks to the contribution of its members, most of whom have decades of experience in designing and producing garage equipment, hopes to contribute to the growth and qualification of the entire sector and develop new business models based on new technologies.
RDE EMISSION TEST GETS THE GO AHEAD IN EUROPE
On September 1, 2019, phase two of the European RDE (Real Driving Emission) emission measurement standard for vehicles with ICE engines went into effect. The news consists in applying RDE tests also to NOx emissions, in addition to particulate tests and WLTP tests; this brings to a completion the adoption of the new emission tests on all newly approved vehicles.
The WLTP test (Worldwide harmonised Light vehicle Test Procedure), which came into force on September 1, 2017, checks emissions of CO2, pollutants and the vehicle’s fuel consumption, but the WLTP test is still a laboratory test, albeit more realistic and updated than the old NEDC cycle. The EU Commission worked on completing these emission tests making road-side tests or RDE tests for NOx emissions and particulate matter mandatory.
The RDE test is carried out by outfitting the vehicle with on-board emission measuring instruments. The test involves different environmental conditions, temperature, altitude, loads, speed, road conditions whether urban or suburban road, up-hills, down-hills and so on, with the aim of simulating the different driving conditions in order to ascertain that the emissions of the vehicle tested are within the legal limits in any condition. To date, RDE is, easily, the most demanding standard around the world, currently implemented only in Europe, which already provides for decreasing limits over the next few years.
Although the new emission limits have required major investments, ACEA (European Association of Car Manufacturers) has welcomed its entry into force as a great leap forward in precise emissions evaluation with road tests confirming previous lab tests. The automotive industry is committed to complying with the new, stricter regulations and the results are already evident: over the last 15 years, technological innovation has progressively made an important contribution in reducing the limits of NOx and particulate matter. The new anti-pollution systems are highly efficient and able to eliminate 99.9% of fine particulate matter, and NOx emissions are on average up to 84% lower than in, say, 15 year old vehicles.
RDE tests are being gradually implemented according to a timetable aimed at allowing the necessary changes in vehicle production. Since September 1, 2018, all light-duty vehicles and vans have been tested for particulate matter (RDE). From September 1, 2019, the same vehicle segments will undergo NOx and particulate test which will then be extended to heavy-duty vehicles. From September 1, 2020, NOx tests will also apply to heavy duty vehicles. From 2021 onwards, even lower limits will apply.
Issues relating to the quality of the air we breathe, especially in urban areas, is unfortunately still improving rather slowly, due mainly to two factors. The first is the average age of the current continental fleet, around 11 years in the EU as a whole. The second, perhaps even more relevant, is vehicle maintenance. As far as NOx is concerned, a key role in meeting emission limits is the constant use of urea (better known as AdBlue) which, injected during combustion, activates a chemical reaction that reduces NOx.
Unfortunately, AdBlue costs money and some people have no qualms about tampering with the control units, thus avoiding topping up the additive. The second negative factor relates to failure in replacing the FAP (particulate filter) at the end of its life, which, might save money on the one hand, but frustrates the long-awaited reduction in particulate matter despite all the work that has already been done.
Unfortunately, to date, both of these illegal practices are very difficult to detect and prosecute; Roadworthiness inspection often do not include these checks in most EU countries, despite the European Commission repeatedly sounding the alarm. Some countries (Holland, Belgium and Germany) are making a few steps forward introducing particulate testing in MOT tests, albeit with some difficulty, from 2021. We hope these steps will soon be confirmed and extended to the entire Union.