EU Type Approval Vote set for Monday 5th December

EU LogoThe IMCO Committee which is tasked with steering the draft EU type approval regulations through the European Parliament is set to vote on the amendments to the original text on the afternoon of Monday 5th December. After all the protests, all the amendments, all the horse trading back and forth it all comes down to this vote.

Through our membership of FEMA, MAG Ireland has been working throughout the process to ensure the views of Irish riders are communicated to the IMCO Committee.

Much of the content in the proposals such as mandatory ABS & OBD are fairly straightforward and well understood by all concerned. While these elements will make motorcycling more expensive in the future, they don’t pose a significant threat to biking as we now know it, and the arguments are largely around how they are implemented – for example an on/off switch for ABS, or full access to the OBD diagnostics output without hefty fees or the need for expensive main dealer equipment.

The big unknown at this point is the the dreaded Article 18 which deals with modifications and measures to prevent “tampering”.

The problem is that it is being left open to the EU Commission to decide what constitutes “tampering” (generally considered to be harmful) and how that will be different to “modification” (generally considered to be harmless). Furthermore, it leaves the door open for anti-tamper measures which are normally confined to mopeds and small motorcycles to be extended to larger motorcycles.

The original text by the commission talks about a series of technical requirements with the aims of;

“(a) to prevent modifications that may prejudice safety, in particular by increasing vehicle performance through tampering with the powertrain in order to increase the maximum torque and/ or power and/or maximum designed vehicle speed as declared by the manufacturer of a vehicle upon type-approval, and/or

(b) to prevent damage to the environment.”

The original text makes no distinction between “tampering” and “modifications”, so even the slightest change from stock could potentially fall foul of the regulations. All of the efforts for a compromise text have centered on distinguishing between the two. The latest available compromise text says a modification is substantial “when the original type approval for this vehicle could not be achieved again after the modification” and leaves everything else open to the end user.

The problem for Irish riders is that this idea is based on the premise that substantial modifications “shall be inspected and approved by the competent authorities in the Member States.” In other words, by means of an NCT type test or Periodic Technical Inspection (PTI) for motorcycles.

So while the situation as it now stands may be a compromise that works for riders in countries which already have an NCT type test for motorcycles – such as the UK’s MOT test – it leaves Irish riders in a potentially difficult position.

If as expected the vote goes ahead on Monday, (it has been twice postponed already), it seems likely that we’ll be faced with some further difficult choices around whether & how modifications will be assessed in the future.

Update, Monday 5th December: The IMCO committee voted on the draft text and the amendments today as planned. MAG Ireland is awaiting an analysis of the outcome from our colleagues in FEMA and we’ll have post on the outcome as soon as we have the information.