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Fleet operators warned of extra cost and time involved in LCV modifications

From April 29, light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes will come under the remit of ECWVTA, requiring additional approval for any modifications made to them. 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, but more bespoke vehicles will still have to go through more rigorous or individual testing.

According to Jeff Ball, specialist vehicle director at Staffordshire vehicle solutions business Motiva Group, the changes will require contract hire and leasing companies to ensure that vehicle conversions run smoothly for their customers.

‘We have to make sure contracts with dealers are absolutely clear about where responsibility for whole type approval lies,’ he said.

‘For example, if a chassis has been built to the wrong size for the body, then the contract has to make it crystal clear who is responsible. Any disputes will lead to increased costs and delays for the customer.’

The potential challenges will be greatest for fleet managers looking for Multi-Stage Build (MSB) vehicles, warned Motiva, which always involves two or more stages, where each of the manufacturers is only responsible for the work done during their part of the build.

Ball said: ‘In this situation, the flow of information between all the companies involved is vital. It’s possible that modifications or additions made at stage two or three could invalidate stage one approval, for example.

‘All this of course just adds to the administration involved, which in turns puts pressure on lead times and increases costs.’

He concluded: ‘The upshot for fleet managers is the potential for longer lead times – especially if they are looking for specialised, bespoke light commercial vehicles.

‘Unless they are taking off-the-peg vehicles, they need to be factoring this into their annual planning and purchasing programmes.

‘Fleet legislation is complex enough at the best of times, without Europe adding yet more red tape to the mix.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.