This week we are featuring a recent article that was posted in CV Dealer Magazine regarding conversions of specialist vehicles –

It’s very difficult to cover all aspects that converters should be aware of prior to a Type Approval Application seeing as there are so many different conversions but here are some of the key issues :

  • Buying the right vehicle to convert – check the weights are accurate as brochures can be misleading and only take account of a 75kg person.
  • Check the end user’s requirements. Extending a wheelbase or overhang may be possible, but at what cost? If you extend a wheelbase past a Manufacturer’s approved longest, you will need to carry out dynamic brake testing and potentially reprogram the EBS sensors, which can be very expensive.  Make sure your end-user is aware of the potential issues.
  • Be mindful of the implications of modifying a vehicle prior to registration or bodywork on a “multistage build”. Changes made to the vehicle prior to registration may impact on one or more of the Manufacturers earlier approvals.
  • You must have good links with Vehicle OEM as well as people in the chain, so as to get the information you need. Modifying the wheelbase may be easy for the chassis convertor, but what about the repositioning of the exhaust or fuel tanks? This could impact on more than one of the previous approvals.

Additionally a change of use from artic to rigid may mean a complete change to the EBS system and sensors.

It is essential to seek the cooperation of the OEM when changes are made to the braking system. Without this VOSA will be unable to re-plate the vehicle. If your request is approved, the vehicle manufacturer will issue a data file to their distributor to enable reprogramming of the EBS parameters. Be prepared for administrative delays in this process: some manufacturers are slower than others.

With the requirement that all items added to a truck need to be approved. E.g. component approval, the converter/dealer must ensure his supplier has the correct approval in place for the items to be supplied. (e.g. glass, towbar, heating system, mirrors etc).

Gone are the days you can just call down to your local autofactors and buy the cheapest mirror. Everything must have the correct marking and approval for unregistered vehicles.

  • Allow suitable time to jump the legal hurdles. VOSA application time (if completed correctly!) 3 weeks +; VOSA inspection at test station – 2-4 weeks; DVLA registration – 5 weeks+
  • Cost out the extras properly, including VOSA and DVLA fees & fuel to the nearest testing station. But don’t assume you will pass first time!
  • Many ATF’s are not informed enough yet and still require a VOSA officer to attend. This in itself has added extra cost to that of the tests at a VOSA station.
  • Post registration route to vehicle change is through VOSA’s VTG10 scheme. The previous cost for this was £28 including inspection at VOSA station. The new cost, due to VOSA station closure, is £28 VOSA fee + capped £55 lane fee and that’s if your ATF wants to test you, (as a flaw in the contract for ATF’s means they don’t have to test your vehicle). As a case in point, last month we had a customer refused a VTG10 inspection at an ATF, due to the extra cost the ATF would have to bear having a VOSA officer check. What will happen when there are no appropriate VOSA stations to pick from and an ATF is your only choice?

All of these things (and many others) need to be addressed prior to your application, so that you are completely on top of the application process. The last thing you need is bureaucracy to get in the way of you doing what you do best, converting specialist vehicles.