Although the introduction of the Van Enhancement Scheme has removed the requirement for UK-based van manufacturers and bodybuilders to seek Type Approval on basic vehicle modifications, more bespoke vehicles will still have to go through more rigorous or individual testing.
Buhagiar points out that the update to the legislation will mean purchasers, funders and operators of vehicles will be liable to penalties, including fines and imprisonment, if the manufacturer and bodywork builder have not gained the appropriate approval for the individual components and any conversion work.
He commented: ‘There are more than 1.6 million LCVs on Britain’s roads and a large number of those are leased or owned by the public sector. From parks vehicles within local authorities to facilities management vans run by housing associations, LCVs used for logistics and transport in the NHS to general purpose vehicles in the charity sector, the potential number of organisations affected by the ECWVTA changes is significant. However, despite the positive work being done by the SMMT and BVRLA, awareness levels about the true impact of the changes has remained relatively low in the public sector.’
He added that public sector fleet managers need to address the issue of timing; with the legislation only a matter of weeks away, it’s vital to think ahead in order to avoid any delays to fron- line public services. And he advised that fleets consider streamline the number of different conversions being used, which may also help to create a more flexible fleet.
Buhagiar concluded: ‘Ultimately, the public sector should welcome the ECWVTA changes because of the impact on improving quality and environmental performance within the conversions sector. Whether owned or leased vehicles, it is important to manage the process effectively, opening the lines of communication with the conversion workshops and investing time in conducting a full needs audit of the entire fleet.
'A proactive approach now could save significant time and money further down the line. A logical next step would be for public sector organisations with similar requirements to agree standard conversions that would be mutually suitable; this would drive economies of scale to reduce cost and ultimately speed up conversion timescales.’