Commission wants to leave the door open to grey imports of vehicles that don’t meet European safety standards

  • June 28, 2023

The European Commission’s draft updated list of minimum requirements for vehicles that receive ‘individual vehicle approval’ for use in the EU is far too weak and could lead to more dangerous oversized American pick-up trucks and cars on EU roads, according to ETSC.

In recent years, there has been a big increase in so-called ‘grey imports’ of large American pick-up trucks such as the Dodge Ram or the Ford F-150.  Such vehicles require the importer, whether a private individual or a specialised vehicle dealer, to get an ‘individual vehicle approval’ certificate before the vehicle is used on the roads.  But these vehicles do not meet EU safety standards, and that situation is likely to continue if the European Commission goes ahead with plans to exclude such vehicles from many of the key requirements of updated EU vehicle safety rules which have been mandatory on new types of vehicle sold across the EU market since July 2022.

According to a draft list of requirements seen by ETSC, the Commission says individually approved vehicles will not have to apply the following safety technologies:

  • Advanced driver distraction warning
  • Advanced emergency braking detecting pedestrians and cyclists
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
  • Brake assist
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning
  • eCall emergency calling system
  • Emergency lane keeping
  • Event data recorders
  • Intelligent speed assistance
  • Lane departure warning
  • Stability control. 

It is also not currently clear how the Commission proposes to deal with European crash tests which assess safety provided in collisions with pedestrians, as these types of tests are not carried out in other markets. 

The list of excluded safety requirements is not subject to full EU regulatory scrutiny and is instead signed-off by the Commission and Member States in behind-closed-doors meetings of the Motor Vehicle Working group.  

Graziella Jost, vehicle safety specialist at ETSC said:

“The EU introduced the world’s most advanced vehicle safety standards last year, but now wants to leave the door open to allowing more massive American-style pick-up trucks and SUVs that don’t meet the same standards EU vehicles have to meet.  This means unfair competition from low quality vehicles from outside the EU, and more dangerous roads for all of us.  It’s completely obvious that there should be one vehicle safety standard for the whole EU market, with no backdoor for unsuitable and unsafe foreign vehicles. 

“There has been a huge rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States in recent years, due in part to the huge rise in sales of large pick-up trucks and SUVs.  The EU can be proud of its record on vehicle safety, so this latest move to allow individually imported vehicles to follow much weaker rules makes no sense.”

The Motor Vehicle Working Group will meet on 4 July, and Member States will be able to comment on the draft list of requirements.