EC type appro­val for vehi­cle parts

So-called ‘type appro­val’ has been pro­vi­ded for at Euro­pean level in the Direc­ti­ve 2007/46/EC, Art. 1 of which sta­tes that the direc­ti­ve estab­lis­hes a har­mo­nis­ed frame­work for the appro­val of vehi­cles and the sys­tems, com­pon­ents and sepa­ra­te tech­ni­cal units inten­ded for tho­se vehi­cles. So it can be seen qui­te clear­ly at the begin­ning that not only the vehi­cle as such, but also vehi­cle parts are the sub­ject of the directive. 

Pos­si­bi­li­ties for appro­val and sale

For the simp­le sale of a vehi­cle part to a vehi­cle manu­fac­tu­rer (OEM), the part does not requi­re to have been sub­ject to type appro­val, and even if it is, that appro­val does not need to be obtai­ned in advan­ce. This can be and usual­ly is dealt with by the OEM: the EC type appro­val of a new vehi­cle type also ent­ails the licen­sing of the vehi­cle parts instal­led in it – but only for that vehi­cle type. Fur­ther­mo­re, the part con­cer­ned has to be from the same manu­fac­tu­rer and struc­tu­ral­ly iden­ti­cal to the part for which the OEM has alrea­dy obtai­ned an EC type appro­val in licen­sing that vehi­cle type.

By con­trast, if a manu­fac­tu­rer is also aiming to sell the vehi­cle part in the after­mar­ket, a dis­tinc­tion must be made bet­ween the repla­ce­ment parts mar­ket and the mar­ket for retro­fit parts. Whilst on the repla­ce­ment parts mar­ket it may be pos­si­ble, taking cer­tain spe­cial fea­tures into account, to mana­ge without sepa­ra­te EC type appro­val (depen­ding on the vehi­cle part the same app­lies here as in simp­le sale to an OEM [see abo­ve] – when all is said and done the part being sold here is one which has alrea­dy been appro­ved for a vehi­cle type), sepa­ra­te type appro­val is requi­red for sale on the after­mar­ket. This can in princip­le be issued for any vehi­cle part which is eli­gi­ble for appro­val accord­ing to the so-called ‘list of regu­la­to­ry acts’ in Annex IV of Direc­ti­ve 2007/46/EC. If that is the case, the final decisi­ve fac­tor is whe­ther or not the vehi­cle part com­plies with the tech­ni­cal requi­re­ments of EC type appro­val, in par­ti­cu­lar tho­se in Annex IV of the direc­ti­ve. This can only be ascer­tai­ned con­clu­si­ve­ly via inspec­tion by a tech­ni­cal ser­vice agency.

In the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re, an inspec­tion is car­ri­ed out from time to time to see whe­ther or not the vehi­cle part has a decisi­ve influ­ence on the spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons (e.g. the emis­si­ons class) of a vehi­cle type that has alrea­dy been appro­ved. If the part is licen­sed, it can be sold in its own right on the after­mar­ket for instal­la­ti­on in cer­tain vehi­cle types.

Fur­ther­mo­re, if the aut­ho­ri­sa­ti­on pro­ce­du­re has been com­ple­ted suc­cess­ful­ly in one EU Mem­ber Sta­te, the manu­fac­tu­rer can sell his pro­duct throughout the EU and licen­se it in all Euro­pean coun­tries without fur­ther inspection. 

Update for EC type approval

Regu­la­ti­on (EU) 2018/858 repla­ces Direc­ti­ve 2007/46/EC

The rules app­li­ca­ble for the appro­val of vehi­cles and vehi­cle com­pon­ents will be repla­ced effec­ti­ve 1 Sep­tem­ber 2020. On that date, (Frame­work) Direc­ti­ve 2007/46/EC, which remains in effect for now and which is descri­bed abo­ve, will be repealed and repla­ced by Regu­la­ti­on (EU) 2018/858, which was adop­ted by the Euro­pean Parliament.

This should be seen in light of the EU’s con­ti­nuing efforts to har­mo­ni­ze legal rules wit­hin the EU. When the Regu­la­ti­on takes effect, all natio­nal sta­tu­tes imple­men­ting Direc­ti­ve 2007/46/EC (in Ger­ma­ny: the EC Vehi­cle Appro­val Ordi­nan­ce) will auto­ma­ti­cal­ly lose signi­fi­can­ce for appro­vals as of 1 Sep­tem­ber 2020. The Regu­la­ti­on will take direct effect on that date in all EU mem­ber states.

Stric­ter rules under the new Regulation 

Stric­ter rules will app­ly for type appro­val when the Regu­la­ti­on takes effect on 1 Sep­tem­ber 2020.

With regard to the die­sel exhaust scan­dal in par­ti­cu­lar, it should be noted that the pro­hi­bi­ti­on on defeat devices remains in effect (cf. Reci­tal 36 to Regu­la­ti­on (EU) 2018/58). In fact, the Regu­la­ti­on actual­ly goes fur­ther and requi­res vehi­cle manu­fac­tu­rers to ensu­re access to the soft­ware pro­to­cols of each indi­vi­du­al vehi­cle (No. 3.1.1 of Appen­dix 2 to Regu­la­ti­on (EU) 2018/858). 

The new Regu­la­ti­on also seeks to ensu­re hig­her qua­li­ty and grea­ter inde­pen­dence from type appro­val tes­ting orga­niz­a­ti­ons (“tech­ni­cal ser­vices”). It will even be pos­si­ble to chal­len­ge their licen­se and aut­ho­ri­ty to con­duct tes­ting pur­suant to Arti­cle 77 of Regu­la­ti­on (EU) 2018/858. In other words, the Regu­la­ti­on extends the regu­la­to­ry powers of the indi­vi­du­al (natio­nal) appro­val aut­ho­ri­ties. In addi­ti­on, the Regu­la­ti­on calls for mar­ket sur­veil­lan­ce of appro­ved vehi­cles and vehi­cle com­pon­ents by the mem­ber sta­tes and their mar­ket sur­veil­lan­ce aut­ho­ri­ties, e.g. by con­duc­ting spot checks of the vehi­cles and vehi­cle com­pon­ents on the market. 

The Regu­la­ti­on also sta­tes that manu­fac­tu­rers are requi­red to make all infor­ma­ti­on necessa­ry for dia­gno­sis, main­ten­an­ce, repro­gramming and reinitia­liz­a­ti­on of their vehi­cles avail­ab­le online. This is to be done by enab­ling (public) access to this data in the form of machine-readable and elec­tro­ni­cal­ly pro­ces­sed data sets, pur­suant to Arti­cle 61 I, Sen­tence 2 of Regu­la­ti­on (EU) 2018/858.

With this pro­vi­si­on, the Type Appro­val Regu­la­ti­on makes things much easier than they were under the Direc­ti­ve, espe­cial­ly for car dea­ler­s­hips and repair shops. Access to all main­ten­an­ce and repair infor­ma­ti­on means that work can be per­for­med in accordance with the manufacturer’s spe­ci­fi­ca­ti­ons. This is of vital impor­t­ance for ven­dors of indi­vi­du­al parts in par­ti­cu­lar, sin­ce access to the vehi­cle manufacturer’s spa­re parts and vehi­cle iden­ti­fi­ca­ti­on data allows them to clas­si­fy their own parts in accordance with the Regulation.

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