So, in the EU Parliamentary vote yesterday, the Type Approval Regulation was roundly supported by MEPs; our elected representatives.
643 of them voted yes in fact, which illustrates that many of them didn't have time to read it in their own language and as such blindly did as they were told. Hurrah for democracy and Parliamentary scrutiny.
The text was finally produced in all languages just before the vote, but without time to read and consider the text in their own language and compare it to the concerns constituents may have had, the Parliament was led by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) of MEPs. Yes indeed, those tasked with protecting consumers didn't really want to hear from us, the consumers. Even the public hearing they had in Brussels all that time ago to gather opinions from stakeholders, didn't include a single dedicated riders representative group. None of us were invited to speak.
In the end 16 MEPs voted against and 18 abstained. Perhaps the abstainers were at least mildly embarrassed.
As MAG has said all along, much of this Regulation was consolidating 15 pieces of earlier Type Approval legislation and we could never take issue with that.
We have also always praised the idea that part of this Regulation would force manufacturers to list the emissions produced by every new model of motorcycle. The knock-on effect of that will be that we will be able to campaign for road tax in line with the Government's sliding scale charges which reflect lower emissions. It is after all, bonkers that a mode of transport which doesn't congest or wear out the road surface, should pay more road tax than one that does!
Similarly, we have always been pleased that the 100bhp limit that the Commission introduced back in the 90s and which only France chose to implement, has been over turned by this regulation, now that everyone finally acknowledges that there is no correlation between power and accidents.
Of course there is still no evidence pointing to any correlation between modifications and accidents either, but rather than let any evidence or proof get in the way of the urge to legislate, the Commission and Parliament pressed on regardless.
It was article 18 that we had the most issue with and I have included below, the final text that was approved.
Still harping on about emissions and safety being the reasons why no power train modifications would be permitted, the text exempts all those bikes over 48hp, or those which fall into line with the new category A licence, which comes into force in January.
Instead, a bike falling into the new A2 licence category, bought by someone like me who has ridden over a million miles, will not be able to have a remap, an exhaust or a washable hi-flo air filter fitted and it will be up to the manufacturers to ensure these parts can't be substituted, unless they are happy to prove an aftermarket part won't compromise safety or the environment. And why would they?
If I chose to buy a bigger, nay thirstier bike, I'd be allowed to change these parts and the bike will remain safe and will not pollute any more. Magical isn't it?
If the text is meant to align anti modification rules, with licence category, why doesn't it say so?
If manufacturers have to make some parts of an A2 bike tamper proof and those same parts fit an A category bike, then consequently they'll be making them tamper proof too.
If manufacturers want to remap a machine so that they can sell it in either category, making different power figures, they'll have the expense of Type Approving both as different machines and have to gain approval for the modification to move the bike between categories, should someone decide to buy the bike in A2 form and then after a few years in the saddle, release some more of that power rather than buy a whole new bike - which is hardly the green alternative.
With absolutely no basis to force these restrictions on modifications, what will be the justification to stop them doing it later to all bikes? That's not scaremongering. The Commission acknowledge they have no proof to justify the anti-modification laws. In direct questioning they have failed to provide any. No national government has found any, and the research companies who've looked at this, say that some should really be done, even if it's just to find out if there is a problem or not.
Without a shred of evidence why won't the Commission just use the fact that it did it before and the Parliament were happy, so it makes sense to simply roll out the idea across motorcycling in its entirety.
The justification we've seen from IMCO, is that because tuning parts are available on the after market, people must be buying them, so that's the proof that we must stop the practise. No link to safety or emissions is necessary. Amazingly, they then say that there will be no effect on the after market industry as people can still make standard modifications even though no impact assessment has been done.
Standard modifications? A little oxymoronic don't you think. On questioning, no one has been able to tell me what a standard modification is.
It is true that compared to the original proposal and first amendments as tabled, we have made great gains. All bikes won't now be fitted with compulsory ABS. All bikes won't be subject to bans on power-train modification and all the ideas about possible roadside enforcement didn't make it through either. But then the Super MoT proposals have been launched instead. (news is coming on the developments with that)
For such a tiny lobby we have done well, but perhaps just not well enough. No doubt we'll be slagged off by all those riders who never bothered to write a letter and who aren't a member of MAG, but if I was you I'd ignore them and be proud of the fact that you got involved and didn't just grumble down the pub. We've heard for years that MAG should do better, but only from those who don't want to contribute.
During the debate in the Parliament the night before the vote, even the Rapporteur from IMCO said he hopes that the Commisssion will get the delegated acts finished in good time so that everyone can get to see the technical and administrative details of the law that he commended to the chamber...
The manufacturers were obviously pleased just to get a move on because it's they who are needing to work out how to build these new machines meeting the new emissions standards and now also how to ensure that the components they build can't be tampered with.
An ACEM press release can be read here, but it still calls for early clarification of the delegated acts so that the industry can see exactly what it has to do.
The FEMA report on the vote can be read here, and it includes a good break down of the new emission limits and bike categories.
Text of article 18, approved yesterday. You'll notice it doesn't have a paragraph 1.
Article 18 - Measures for manufacturers regarding modifications to the powertrain of vehicles
2. Vehicle manufacturers shall equip L-category vehicles with the exception of
subcategories L3e-A3 and L4e-A3,with designated features to prevent tampering of a vehicle's powertrain, by means of a series of technical requirements and specifications with the aim:
(a) to prevent modifications that may prejudice safety, in particular by increasing vehicle performance through tampering with the powertrain in order to increase the maximum torque and/ or power and/or maximum design vehicle speed which have been duly established during the type-approval procedure as followed by the manufacturer of the vehicle, and/or
(b) to prevent damage to the environment.
3. The Commission shall adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 76 concerning the specific requirements regarding the measures referred to in paragraph
2 and in order to facilitate compliance with paragraph 4a. The first such delegated acts shall be adopted by 31 December 2014.
4. After a modification of the powertrain, a vehicle shall comply with the technical requirements of the initial vehicle category and subcategory, or, if applicable, the new vehicle category and subcategory, which were in force when the original vehicle was placed on the market, registered or entered into service, including the latest amendments to the requirements.
Finally, the definition of a power train:
'powertrain' means the components and systems of a vehicle that generate power and deliver it to the road surface, including the engine(s), the engine management systems or any other control module, the pollution environmental protection control devices including pollutant emissions and noise abatement systems, the
transmission and its control, either a drive shaft or belt drive or chain drive, the differentials, the final drive, and the driven wheel tyre (radius);