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Stricter ITV controls from 2018

The mandatory vehicle safety vest, the Inspección Técnica de Vehículos, or ITV, the Spanish equivalent to the MOT, will become much stricter from 2018, especially in elements relating to pollutant emissions, the devices intended to reduce them and also a large part of the security systems that are shipped and are controlled electronically.

The process started almost three years ago with the publication of the European directive 2014/45/UE, which the Spanish Government hopes to have transposed into legislation, via Royal Decree, before this summer, but it has been accelerated and reinforced as a result of the so-called “dieselgate”, the scandal surrounding Volkswagen, and the doubts that have awakened in the behaviour of other manufacturers.

It is because of the weaknesses in the approval procedures that have been demonstrated that periodic inspections such as those of the ITV are clearly insufficient. Regulated by European and national regulations in the case of diesel cars, for example, today only the opacity of smoke is measured. Also, current controls “do not allow a sufficiently efficient control of Euro 5 and Euro 6 vehicles”, as noted by CITA experts, an international working group that works on improving vehicle inspections, confirmed by the Spanish association Aeca-ITV, the DGT and industry experts.

Although the changes still have to overcome pitfalls, for example, when it was published three years ago, the 2014/45/EU directive said nothing about the control of NOx emitted by cars, now in the eye of the hurricane. Because it was the cause of the engine cracking and because, unlike CO2, it directly damages the health of people.

This has forced CITA to develop its own protocol to adequately measure the NOx, as well as detect possible fraud or manipulation. Among them, Luis Gutiérrez, president of Acea-ITV, points out cases in which, “there have been users who have emptied particle filters or manipulated the EGR valves because their maintenance is expensive and, limiting or impeding their operation, they increase the benefits of the vehicle”. In return they become much dirtier, of course.

Field tests are expected to be completed by July and at the end of the year, ready for delivery, along with a manual with the maximum NOx limits, the protocol for its measurement and the procedures to verify that the anti-pollution devices have not been manipulated.

Given that the time that the European Commission would take to incorporate these changes is difficult to estimate, in Spain the goal of Industry is to “incorporate it as soon as possible”, according to Gutiérrez, “because although high NOx limits are now set to drive out the big polluters.”

This would allow its application throughout 2018, when numerous security systems under electronic control will be reviewed, such as the stability program, the airbags or the seatbelt pre-tensioners.

Although there is also a problem. For these inspections to make sense, manufacturers must allow access to the vehicle’s switchboard and share information about those systems. Even charging an amount for it, an issue that would be discussed, but the president of Aeca-ITV qualifies it as “Kafkaesque” as they are mandatory security systems.

Would the above raise an increase in fees for passing ITV? “If we have to pay for the data, you will have to pay for the data, it depends on the model that the ITV station operates in. If it is in a liberalized environment, it is easier for the overhead to be transferred to the user. Where the Administration fixes the tariffs it is more difficult but, then, it would have to compensate the concessionaire”.

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