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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