Promoting, Protecting and Expanding the Motorcycle Industry

EU Type Approval Regulations Revisions

Known in official circles as European “Whole Vehicle Type Approval” abbreviated to WVTA, it is a series of tests that new motorcycle models must undergo before being sold on the 27 European Union markets.

It is a single process that has replaced the 27 different national approval processes that preceded it. WVTA applied to all new mopeds and motorcycles from 2001.

European WVTA sets minimum standards for a range of topics such as braking noise and emission performance and samples of new models must be must submitted to testing authorities for checking and approval before being released for retail sale.

The current type approval scheme (until January 2016)

This is focused on the basic construction and performance of mopeds, motorcycles three wheelers and some light four wheeled vehicles. It includes lighting requirements, braking, noise, side and centre stands among many others. One of the “others” are the anti tampering (anti tuning) requirements. These are measures to make it difficult for owners to tune their mopeds and restricted 125s to higher (and hence illegal) performance and speeds.

What changes will the new type approval Regulation bring?

The member states of the European Union agreed that the European Commission (EC)should revise the existing requirements for WVTA and the  stated aims were to:

  • improve the safe use of the vehicles concerned
  • improve their environmental performance.
  • use United Nations (ECE Regulations) wherever possible. ECE Regulations are used by many states outside the EU and therefore help the EU's exports.

While the industry agreed with the overall objectives,  the initial draft presented by the EC in 2010 indicated a very heavy handed approach had been adopted by the Commission officials. It took no account of the severe recession in Europe and the contracting market that manufacturers were experiencing and included many measures, the benefits of which were unsubstantiated and costly. Following long and hard negotiations, and while the industry still has reservations as to the likely social benefits of the proposals, sufficient changes have been agreed with the Commission for the manufacturers to reluctantly accept the overall document.

The extent of type approval

Type approval is primarily intended for new vehicles, but a limited range of components also are required to be approved. This means that if a rider wants to replace an approved part, this can be done, provided that the replacement is also approved (e.g. a manufacturer made silencer with an aftermarket one). The list of components includes:
  • Mirrors
  • Horns
  • Tyres
  • Lights : headlamp, rear lamps, indicators, reflectors, etc.
  • Speedometers
  • Exhaust systems and silencers
  • Braking systems (not individual components)
  • Fuel tanks.

The concerns of industry, retailers, and customers

The MCI’s members were greatly concerned that the original proposal would impose a very damaging timetable, and a hotch-potch of implementation dates that would mean repeated stock clearances at great cost to both manufacturers and retailers.

The revised timetable overcomes this to a great extent.

The MCI has been in discussion with British MEPs and Department of Transport officials who have made critical contributions to an acceptable outcome for manufacturers, their dealers and customers.

Among the concerns of the various parties, particularly enthusiasts who like to modify their bikes, were the proposed extension of the anti tampering measures. However agreement has been reached that the latter will apply only to vehicle limited in performance by law (mopeds, light motorcycles under 125cc and intermediate performance models of less than 47bhp).  At the time of this revision (October 2012) details have still to emerge.

Although originally scheduled by the EC for January 2013, it is now expected that the new Regulation will apply to all new models manufactured from January 2016 onwards.  

Given the initially unsympathetic approach of the EC all parties had good reason to be concerned that the result of the draft regulation would be a substantial rise in the price of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, a reduced choice and potentially fewer customers. After two years of hard negotiations a commercially acceptable compromise is in view. It should leave the industry with a viable market, and customers with ranges of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds that meet their needs. While prices will rise (for example, to cover the cost of advanced braking systems) there will remain exciting motorcycles for all tastes.