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What Is Type Approval?

The United Nations is currently attempting to standardise international Type Approval directives to a common standard, so new vehicles produced anywhere in the world can be sold anywhere in the world. Vehicle manufacturing is key to a country's success, and VW has played a key role in the fortunes of many countries over the years. However, a Type 2 made in Brazil, for instance, has to undergo a number of modifications before it can be sold here (and the same is true for any vehicle brought in from outside the EU).

On the back of the UN initiative there is currently a new EU Type Approval directive being tabled - the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA). This Directive is designed to harmonise all type approval schemes, even the local SVA/LVTA/TUV type tests, across Europe, so each component fitted to a vehicle has to be fit for purpose. By tidying up these annomolies this new directive will allow for each certificated component to be sold anywhere, not just the country it was approved in.

Volkswagen Partners have existed since the late 1950's - companies such as Auto Sleepers and Westfalia have complied European Type Approval for some time. Yet it is the diversity of small business enterprise in this market sector that has delayed the implementation of this legislation for Motor Caravans to be integrated in Group M1. Thus, even the vehicles that meet the standards remain outside the scope of Whole Vehicle Type Approval.

The first of the design compatible T4 Motor Caravans, introduced in the UK in the early 1990's, were built to British Standard 5750 for quality (the forerunner to ISO 9001) and Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) guidelines for Caravans and Motorhomes.

Since then, the rules have changed to account for the array of adaptations that can be made to a vehicle to fulfil specific needs in the marketplace - even involving an entirely new floor and chassis suitably strengthened for harnesses to restrain wheel chairs and occupants.

These can only be sold in the UK with either:
  • Single Vehicle Type Approval (SVA) - which also applies to personal imports from outside the EU
  • Low Volume Vehicle Type Approval (LVTA - for up to 500 units sold annually)
  • Wheel Chair Vehicle Converters Association approval (voluntary).
Only SVA and LVTA UK certificated conversions received Motability and Volkswagen Compatible Design approval. (The model shown here is an Auto Sleeper Trooper with suitable adaptations.)

These "local" tests are also applied to Crew Van, minibus and emergency vehicle conversions built by Volkswagen Partner companies.

The German TUV seat approval involves a pull test corresponding to the size of the seat - the pull test for a two seater Reimo Variotech is six tonnes; for the three seater ones it is ten tonnes, reflecting the momentum generated by the increased mass of a moving object (in this case each passenger and possibly the seat itself).

The TUV tests are held in such high regard the standard is already accepted and recognised across much of Europe and the Developed World.

To gain full Type Approval for fitment to each application a full vehicle crash test is carried out with a seat installed in each vehicle type (currently at £50,000 per test - this service is provided at a number of sites around the UK, but it does mess your van up!!!).

The larger seat companies have already acheived certification for their current vehicle applications.

The three point seat belt on the lhd Autohomes Komet shown here is attached to a reinforced steel member fitted across the roof above the rear door - as approved by BS5750.
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