UK van converters approve of industry intervention 08 February 2013

More than three quarters of vans will avoid Type Approval on modifications, and the associated costs, after the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) highlighted issues to the DfT (Department for Transport).

SMMT has successfully negotiated a valuable Van Enhancement Scheme (VES) that removes the requirement for UK-based van manufacturers and bodybuilders to seek Type Approval on basic vehicle modifications.

SMMT commercial vehicle manager Nigel Base says that the VES means Type Approval administration headaches have been removed for more than 200,000 vans registered each year – and significantly reduced for around 40,000 more.

Under legislation set to hit N1 category vehicles from April this year (and N2 vehicles from October 2014), any modification would have required separate WVTA (Whole Vehicle Type Approval).

However, the VES secured by SMMT with VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) and VOSA, removes the requirement for basic modifications, such as ply-lining and racking.

"SMMT has worked hard to achieve this crucial Type Approval change that will avoid unnecessary paperwork and save UK businesses thousands of pounds every year," comments Base.

"We have found a solution that works for all parties, while maintaining safety standards for those converters making basic modifications to panel vans," he continues.

"This sort of administrative burden could have forced some firms out of business, but thanks to close collaboration with industry partners and government this will now be avoided," he adds.

"The Van Enhancement Scheme appears to offer a fair compromise between a potentially overbearing administrative burden for achieving full multi-stage WVTA on a wide number of LCV variants, and no regulation at all," comments Clive Woodward, group managing director of Bott.

"At least with this scheme, fleet operators working with VCA-approved converters can have assurance that their limited conversions meet minimum VCA/VOSA standards for WVTA."

Van converters that need to go through the VES route can use an upgraded version of SMMT's online Type Approval guide – SENTA (

The tool guides companies through all combinations of Whole Vehicle Type Approval, streamlining the process and saving companies time and costs.

"We welcome the Whole Vehicle Type Approval legislation and the safeguards this will put into place; regulation is key to protecting the industry," comments Samantha Roff, managing director of Venson.

"However, it is also important that the unnecessary disruption caused by the process to those businesses making relatively minor modifications to vehicles was recognised and a solution sought. The Enhancement Scheme ensures vehicle manufacturer standards are upheld, while minimising the impact of modifications on both businesses and their customers."

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Bott Ltd
Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
SMMT Industry Forum
Venson Automotive Solutions Ltd

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