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European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval – What does it mean?

European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval – What does it mean?

European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval – What does it mean?

If you think ECWVTA is a holiday resort in Poland or that  NSSTA is the latest crime drama on Sky One then you can’t be a commercial vehicle manufacturer or a body builder, because if you were you’d know that these unpronounceable strings of letters are going to have a major impact on your business in the months ahead.

(You’d also know that they’re going to keep you so busy that there’ll be no time for watching crime dramas, let alone nipping over to Polandfor a break.)

Actually, you could be forgiven if they haven’t grabbed your attention yet, since there obviously isn’t much of a budget to pay someone to come up with catchy names: European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval and National Small Series Type Approval don’t exactly trip off the tongue – neither are they very self-explanatory.

What are they? They are the two main types of compulsory Type Approval introduced after a 2007 European Union directive and aimed mainly at the manufacturers of vans, lorries, trailers, buses and coaches – and all their components parts from the chassis down to the [insert light fitting]. ECWVTA will let you sell your vehicle anywhere within the European Union whereas NSSTA only covers theUK.

To obtain Type Approval, manufacturers will have to provide a production sample of a vehicle design that meets very specific performance standards. What will this mean for you apart from the £2000-£3000 cost of an application?


According to the VCA, theUK’s national approval authority for new road vehicles, if you haven’t had a type of vehicle approved by the deadline you won’t be able to sell it. “Once the relevant application date passes you will not be able to sell or register any new vehicles covered by the Directive without it having an approval certificate. No approval, no sale!”

So plan to be working weekends and evenings over the coming months as you put together your Type Approval applications to ensure your vehicle – or part of a vehicle – meets all the new safety and environmental requirements. The directive focuses particularly onABS, rear-view mirrors, improved lights, side protection, anti-spray devices, CO2 emissions, fuel consumption and engine power.

Under the new system, each manufacturer involved in putting together a vehicle will complete the certificate relating to its part in the manufacturing process.  They’re calling it “multi-stage type-approval” and it is designed to take into account the specific nature of commercial vehicle manufacture.

Approval itself is an arduous four-stage process of inspections, tests and, of course, a transit-full of paperwork. “At an operational level, you may need to make significant changes to your business to comply with the new Directive,” advises the VCA’s website. “For example, manufacturers may have to change their product design or manufacturing process to meet new technical or quality management requirements, or ensure that their staff have the correct training and skills to adapt. It makes sense to prepare now.”

One of the main hurdles manufacturers will have to overcome is completing a list of approved components for their vehicle. Every part must have an e-number and a certificate of conformity, and only the components on the list can be used on that type of vehicle.

Mark Headford, the regional parts manager at Flowserve, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of flow control products, recommends keeping your options open when you make your list because altering the list of parts at a later date means more paperwork and more expense. “It is imperative that the body builder applies for as many derivatives of parts as possible on his original application. If he fits parts he does not have approval for he may well lose his Type Approval.”

Andrew Strath, Sales Director at leading commercial lighting wholesaler Dun Bri, says that suppliers need to realize that if they can’t give their customers the information they need many Type Approvals are going to be held up. “Bodybuilders need to make sure they choose suppliers  who can provide ready-made list of Type Approved parts together with their ‘e’ numbers and certificates of conformity.”

Many types of vehicles already have to comply, but the deadlines for trailer manufacturers are fast approaching. To find out more visit the VCA website at


2 thoughts on “European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval – What does it mean?
  1. says:

    I agree with all of the above, but as a manufacturer/converter of 30 to 40 bespoke (and I mean very bespoke) vehicles each year I am still confused about what exactly I need to do. I am guessing that all the big boys are well in with the authorities and being cynical perhaps this is just another way of making life difficult for the small producer.

  2. JamesDBG says:

    The issue comes down to what you bespoke will be, the Manufacturers of the chassis will probably get type approval for the majority of basic modifications. But major bespoke must be look at a case by case basis. If you can standardise you bespok to only a couple of designs then this would reduce cost, but I would recommend you speaking to a consultant. If you choose to use second hand chassis’s this would put of the need to type approve for a couple of years.

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