[Last updated August 2012]
ECWVTA (European Whole Vehicle Type Approval) is a system allowing a vehicle design to be 'type approved' for sale, registration and entry into service across all member states in the EU without the need for further testing in each country. This will result in the creation of a single market by ensuring common vehicle standards. From April 2009, legislation was extended to cover all new road vehicles such as buses, coaches, trucks, trailers (including caravans) and certain special purpose vehicles such as motor caravans. The legislation is being phased in, and will be fully in place by 2014 depending on vehicle category.
Motor Caravans are in the M1 Special Purpose category, manufacturers have had the option, since 29th April 2009, to submit their models for Type Approval. From 29th April 2011 it has been mandatory for all NEW types of motor caravan to be Type Approved, and from 29th April 2012 it has been mandatory for manufacturers to have obtained Type Approval for all EXISTING types of motorhome still in production.
Modifications to Type Approved motorhomes
Many owners may wish to carry out modifications to their motorhomes and have concerns about invalidating the Type Approval. We asked the Department for Transport to comment:
"In the UK we do not have a concept of invalidating type approval - or at least, it could only be invalidated BEFORE registration with DVLA. After a vehicle is registered, type approval is "spent". HOWEVER - that does not mean you can do anything of course - you have to comply with Construction & Use Regulations, Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations and all other applicable requirements."
However, in some cases the regulations explicitly lay down more stringent requirements for vehicles that have been Type Approved, we are aware of two such specific cases:
Towbars, which must themselves be Type Approved for fitting to a Type Approved vehicle.
Electronic equipment added to a Type Approved vehicle must comply with EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) regulations. It must be approved and "e-marked", or CE marked if it is not associated with control of the vehicle. For example Sat nav, TVs, DVD players, radios and so on need a CE mark (which they almost certainly would already have anyway) if they are connected to a vehicle power supply.
We specifically asked about the question of MTPLM upgrades on Type Approved motorhomes and it was confirmed that "... upgrading the MTPLM (gross weight) of a vehicle has no effect on the type approval and does not "invalidate" it."
Thanks to Mike Lowe from the DfT for answering our questions