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Breaking the Law? UK Fleet Van Converter Warns that

Bott, the industry-leading manufacturer and supplier of in-vehicle equipment and fleet van conversions has advised professional fleet operators in the UK of the need to stay on the right side of the law following the launch of the new Van Enhancement Scheme that removes the requirement for UK-based van converters and bodybuilders to seek full Type Approval on many basic N1/N2 vehicle modifications.

Clive Woodward, CEO (Bott Limited) said; “It is imperative to highlight the importance of working with converters that are approved by the VCA to use the Enhancement Scheme in order to stay on the right side of the law.”

Negotiated by leading converters in conjunction with the SMMT, the new N1/N2 Enhancement Scheme delivers a workable solution for the CV conversion industry that avoids the need to seek full multi-stage build Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA) provided the conversion is of a type that lies within defined parameters. To ensure that LCV’s can be converted using this new approach clients will probably incur some limited additional costs from convertors in assessing that a defined vehicle specification is within scope of the scheme. With more than three quarters of new van conversions now potentially avoiding the need for full Type Approval on modifications, a potential admin headache has been reduced, although some vehicles will still incur extra build time and costs where full WVTA has to be obtained.

Under legislation set to hit N1 category vehicles from April 29th this year (and N2 vehicles from October 2014), any significant modification could have required separate Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA), for each build variant. The Enhancement Scheme, secured by SMMT with VCA and VOSA, removes the requirement for some basic modifications involving TA relevant elements, to be externally approved.

Clive Woodward, CEO (Bott Limited) voiced his approval of the scheme; “The Van Enhancement Scheme appears to offer a fair compromise between potentially overbearing administration in achieving full multi-stage WVTA on a wide number of LCV variants, and no regulation at all. 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. Bott and other leading conversion companies in the industry have pushed for this solution and the intervention of the DfT in allowing this scheme has shown that consultation with the industry works. We feel it is however important to highlight that only approved converters with Conformity of Production (COP) will be able to register for the scheme with the VCA. The Scheme now needs to be implemented, tested and later refined in-line with experience gained.”

Over the past 10 months SMMT has worked with a group of van manufacturer and converter members, the VCA, VOSA and the Department for Transport to try and reduce the regulatory burden of WVTA. The process has achieved a result that will see many van conversions sold in the UK avoid burdensome Type Approval requirements either because the work is out of scope, or because it can be covered under the N1/N2 Enhancement Scheme. Our estimate is that around 5% of N1/N2 conversions will still need full Whole Vehicle Type Approval prior to registration or operators will have to pay for their vehicles to undergo an IVA.

SMMT Commercial Vehicle Manager Nigel Base said; “We have found a solution that works for all parties while maintaining safety standards for modifications to panel vans. The extra administrative burden of WVTA for all variants could have forced some firms out of business, but thanks to close collaboration with industry partners and government this will now be avoided.”