The Department for Transport has today begun consulting on new construction requirements to be met by manufacturers of vans, trucks, minibuses, buses, coaches, trailers, motorhomes and other special-purpose vehicles.

The consultation reflects the requirements of the EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval Directive (ECWVTA), which already applies to cars. ECWVTA is designed to ensure that all new vehicles are safe to use and have the lowest possible environment impacts, without the need to inspect each vehicle individually. Currently, construction regulations differ across Europe meaning that manufacturers must apply for approval in each country where they make sales.

ECWVTA will be phased in between 2009 and 2014, with different types of vehicles becoming subject to its requirements at different times. Once the requirements come into effect, all affected vehicles will have to be built to an approved standard before they can be sold and registered for use on the road.

Vehicles made in low volumes for sale in the UK only will not be required to comply with

ECWVTA but instead must meet National Small Series Type Approval or Individual Vehicle Approval requirements.

Transport Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick said

"These new requirements are designed to harmonise construction standards throughout Europe - removing trade barriers for manufacturers and ensuring common safety and environmental requirements for operators and consumers."

Under ECWVTA a vehicle manufacturer will be responsible for ensuring that its vehicles meet a series of construction requirements covering areas such as brakes, lighting, crash performance and environmental standards. In addition the manufacturer's production processes will be assessed to confirm that each vehicle coming off the production line conforms to the same standards.