All vehicles on the road are required to be approved prior to registration to ensure that they meet vehicle safety and environmental standards.
A large proportion of commercial vehicles are built in multiple stages. A base vehicle is built as a chassis cab vehicle by a vehicle OEM. A body is then manufactured and mounted on the body to make a complete vehicle. This stage of the process is carried out by specialist converters such as TGS.
In recent years it has become compulsory for vehicles that are built in multiple stages to be approved prior to registration. In the past, it was possible to register a vehicle based on its approval gained at the first stage of build (the OEM base vehicle). As the manufacturers responsible for subsequent stages often affect the approvals that are in place, it was decided that the subsequent stage manufacturers should take responsibility for the approvals affected and multi-stage approval was created. The approvals that are affected depend on the nature and complexity of the work that is carried out on the vehicle.
The two main routes of approval are Type Approval and IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval).
Type Approval covers multiple vehicles and a specification is approved instead of a specific vehicle. Type Approval specifications often cover a range (e.g different sized bodies, wheelbases etc.). All vehicles that are covered by type approval have to be built to the type-approved specification. Once a stage of the process has been completed, the manufacturer creates a COC (Certificate of Conformity). The COC is basically a declaration that the vehicle complies with the type approved specification and states exact values within the specification such as dimensions and weights. In order to register the type-approved vehicle COCs for all stages of the completed vehicle are required. There are different types of COC depending on the stage of the process. Most commonly, multi-stage vehicles are created in two stages but there can be many stages depending on the complexity of the vehicle and the work being carried out. Using a two-stage process as a typical example, the OEM manufactures a chassis cab and creates a COC covering the incomplete vehicle. The second stage manufacturer then creates a COC for a completed vehicle covering the approvals affected by the final conversion. The COCs for both stages are then required to register the vehicle.
A vital compulsory element of Type Approval is Conformity of Production (COP). A manufacturer must have adequate COP arrangements in place before Type Approval is granted. COP is basically a means of producing evidence that suitable arrangements are made to manufacture a consistent quality product to the type-approved specifications.
There are three different forms of Type Approval: ECWVTA (European Whole Vehicle Type Approval, ECSSTA (European Small Series Type Approval) and NSSTA (National Small Series Type Approval. TGS uses a combination of ECWVTA and NSSTA depending on the volumes and complexity of each specification produced.
As the name suggests IVA only covers one vehicle. The vehicle has to be inspected fully by DVSA before being granted an IVA approval. The IVA approval is required, together with the First Stage COC, to register the vehicle. COP is not required for IVA, as the physical vehicle that needs to be registered is inspected.
In addition to Type Approval and IVA, there is also a Van Enhancement Scheme approval in place which covers minor modifications to panel vans, such as the addition of racking and towbars. TGS also holds a Van Enhancement approval covering panel van conversions.