What is Automotive Type Approval?
Put simply, type approval is the confirmation that production samples of a design will meet specified performance standards. The specification of the product is recorded and only that specification is approved. Automotive EC Directives and UN Regulations require third party approval – testing, certification and production conformity assessment by an independent body. Each Member State is required to appoint an Approval Authority to issue the approvals and a Technical Service to carry out the testing to the EC Directives and Regulations. An approval issued by one Authority will be accepted in all the Member States. A similar situation exists for UN regulations where Contracting Parties have similar role to the EC Member States. In the UK, the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) is both Approval Authority and Technical Service. (Note: automotive Directives are “old approach” in terms of requiring third party testing and approval. “New approach” Directives follow a different format and place more obligation on the manufacturer to make sure that the product meets appropriate requirements. EU Member States have agreed that the new approach is not appropriate for road vehicles.)
Whole Vehicle Type Approval EC approval of most road vehicles is based around a “Whole Vehicle” framework Directive 2007/46/EC (as amended) and this specifies the range of aspects of the vehicle that must be approved to separate technical Directives. Hence, in order to gain EC whole vehicle approval, a vehicle first will have to be approved for various systems, e.g. brakes, emissions, noise, etc. The issue of the whole vehicle approval does not in itself involve testing, but a production sample of the complete vehicle is inspected to check that its specification matches the specifications contained in all the separate Directive approvals.