With the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval and changes to the Single Vehicle Approval rapidly approaching, there is quite a lot of confusion into exactly what is required in order to meet these standards.
It is your responsibility to dig a little deeper into your seating manufacturers testing, just taking their word that they are “EU Compliant” can leave you with problems, so it’s important to check if they comply with the ECE 76/115 (amendment 2005/41). Please be aware though ECE 76/115 (amendment 2005/41) will be replaced in 2014 by
ECE Reg 14 which is what most vehicle manufacturers are working towards. (ECE Reg 14 applies to M1 vehicles M2/M3 minibuses require ECE Reg 80)
It’s no longer good enough just to fit M1 seats into a vehicle. As the saying goes “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”, you must also be able to demonstrate that the seat anchorage in the vehicle floor has also been tested as complete assembly in a shell of the vehicle you intend to fit the seats into.
If your seating supplier has tested the seats in a Ford Transit and you are fitting them in a Mercedes Sprinter, again this will be rejected because manufacturer’s chassis behave differently under pull. You will also need to produce documentary evidence if your build is made up from several suppliers for example seats, legs and floor, there must be a clear link that the whole system approval interlinks together for your vehicle.
The documentary evidence must come from either your own test or from your seating manufacturers test. It also needs to have been witnessed by a recognised authority (This can be the VCA, TÜV, UTAC or test houses recognised by the VCA)
The seating market at the moment is very “buyer beware” But by taking simple actions by obtaining documentation. We deal with Police vehicles and the majority of Police Fleet managers in their tenders will no longer state M1 seats, it will say that the seats must comply with ECE 76/115 (Amendment 2005/41) and eventually ECE Reg 14.
Whilst this does not currently apply to Post Vehicle conversions, I honestly feel that this loophole will shortly be closed. Already Taxi licence authorities are insisting on this documentation before a taxi plate will be granted and there is talk within the insurance industry that they will follow suit. There is even talk in the industry that vehicles could fail their MOT if the examiner is not happy with the install and the last thing dealers need, is an unhappy customer coming back to them three years down the line.
It’s your vehicle and the last thing you want, is to rip out the seats and floor because it does not comply, so please ensure you have all the correct documentation from your seating manufacturer before you buy.
Gary Shaw , Be-Ge Seating UK Ltd