From January 2008, manufacturers will be obliged to carry out official tests on vehicles, verified by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).
Some media reports have suggested that only vans launched after this date are likely to come under scrutiny, but official documents obtained by Fleet News show that all vans sold as new, whether launched five years ago or recently, will have to be tested.
Failure to do so, says the VCA, will result in the certificate of conformity being rescinded, effectively making it impossible for fleets to register that vehicle.
However, ‘multi-stage build’ vans, such as tippers, Lutons and dropsides are likely to have a further 12 months’ grace due to the added complexities of testing.
A spokesman for the VCA said the directive had been around since 2004 and expressed surprise that many vanmakers knew nothing about the new rules.
But several manufacturers claim they are still unaware of exactly what the new rules are and others have serious misgivings about the usefulness of such figures as the tests will be carried out on empty vehicles on a rolling road.
Nick Blake, CV sales engineering manager at Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: ‘We have several issues about this plan and at present there are many grey areas.
‘We think it will work for smaller car-derived vans but in the heavier sectors, things are more complicated. There are hundreds of different permutations and with the tests carried out empty and on a rolling road, these figures will be pretty meaningless. This could be hard to put together and we feel there is a danger that fleets will end up with misleading information. We need to know more.’
A Ford spokesman also pointed out that, as yet, they had heard nothing official. He said: ‘We are still waiting for hear the exact details. We produce CO2 figures already but fuel testing is an enormous undertaking.’
There has also been criticism about the tests from the fleet industry. Mark Norman, values services manager at industry data expert CAP, questioned why the vehicles were only being tested empty, when all vans on the road carry some kind of cargo.
He said: ‘There is no reason why vans cannot be tested on a level playing field by running them unladen and fully loaded to produce the best and worst-case scenarios.’