The regulatory framework

Two-wheeler

European Union

In December, the European Parliament and Council approved the "Framework Regulation on approval and market surveillance of two- or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles”. The requirements of the regulation will come into force, for newly approved vehicles, in January 2016 (in 2017 for vehicles already approved). New requirements of the regulation include:

  • advanced brake systems or combined brake systems mandatory for 51cc to 125cc motorcycles, ABS mandatory for bigger engine two-wheeler vehicles;
  • additional and more rigorous anti-rigging measures;
  • reclassification of existing categories of two- and three-wheeler vehicles and quadricycles;
  • the mandatory requirement for vehicle manufacturers to allow independent industry operators access to repair and maintenance information;
  • new pollution limits, which will become increasingly stricter over the years, and additional environmental performance testing (evaporative emissions, durability, etc);
  • a single test cycle (Revised World Motorcycle Test Cycle-WMTC) the same for all vehicle categories, to measure pollutant emissions, starting from 2020;
  • the introduction of on board diagnostics (OBD) for some vehicle categories.

The EU has confirmed its intention to issue a specific directive for scooters, that will introduce Euro 3 pollution limits only for newly approved vehicles as from July 2014, while Euro 2 scooters may continue to be registered until the end of 2017.

While the regulation has been discussed, the Commission has also prepared four Delegated Acts of procedures for the performance of tests necessary for vehicle type-approval. The four Delegated Acts concern environmental performance, functional safety and vehicle manufacturing requirements, as well as administrative requirements concerning the type approval procedure; these Acts should be adopted by the European Commission in Spring 2014 and come into effect in 2016 at the same time as the Framework Regulation.

Italy

The italian bill for “The promotion of low emission vehicles” (originally presented as the Lulli/Ghiglia/Scalera bill) was included in August in the text of Italian Law Decree 83/12  (Development Decree "Urgent measures for the growth of the country").

The priority objectives of the bill are:

  • the development of sustainable mobility;
  • the development of an Infrastructures Plan, including private infrastructures, to establish a network for recharging electrical vehicles;
  • measures to promote research into alternative engines;
  • Incentives to purchase low pollution vehicles (vehicles mainly for independent and business users, with electric, hybrid, LPG, methane, biomethane, biofuel and hydrogen power that produce carbon dioxide exhaust emissions of no more than 120 g/km) modulated based on their CO2 emission level.

In the second half of 2012, the amount of incentives allocated for "environmentally friendly vehicles", originally €70 million for each year from 2013 to 2015, was changed several times, and in December the figure of €40 million for 2013 and € 35 million for 2014 and 2015 was allocated. The starting date of the incentive campaign was also changed in December 2012, due to delays in preparing necessary administrative documents: compared to the original text in which incentives were to begin on 1 January 2013, the start has been deferred to the thirty-first day following approval of a specific degree that will concern procedures for allocating the incentives, which is still being prepared.

The so-called Testo Unico (Consolidated Act) relative to Highway Code reform, adopted at the end of June by the Italian IX Parliamentary Committee, which plans to deregulate a part of the code to streamline the procedure to change requirements subject to frequent updates, continued through parliament in the middle of 2012. As final approval has not yet been given, and considering the recent announcement to call general elections, there is some uncertainty as to whether the contents of the Consolidated Act will be incorporated in the future into a new measure, and whether the procedure for its approval will start up again.  

In August 2012, as part of “Provisions to promote the development of mobility through low emission vehicles”, a regulation on converting internal combustion engine vehicles in circulation to having an electrical power source was approved. Based on this regulation, vehicles with an internal combustion engine, currently in circulation, may be converted to having only an electrical power source, based on detailed requirements that will be contained in a specific degree of the Ministry of Transport. The contents of the decree are particularly important for two-, three-wheeler and quadricycle manufacturers, as they will include all requirements of the Ministry of Transort considered necessary to guarantee the electric vehicle's conformity to all applicable safety regulations.

In December 2012, as part of the Italian “Decree for Development”, an amendment was proposed and approved, banning the registration of motorcycles with 125cc engines and upwards, without a corresponding version with ABS. This amendment went against EU regulations in force and against regulations recently approved by the European Parliament and Council, that will become effective in January 2016. For this reason, the amendment was immediately invalidated by a special measure contained in the "Stability Law".  

France

In October 2012, French Parliament issued a negative opinion on the European regulatory proposal submitted in the summer, to extend periodic testing (MOTs) of two- and three-wheeler motor vehicles, whilst also increasing the frequency of car testing. The main reason for this unfavourable opinion is that French Parliament believes the impact of technical faults on accidents involving two-wheeler vehicles is statistically irrelevant compared to other factors such as, first and foremost, the human factor. The entire process to discuss the proposal at EU and Member State level will presumably last around two years.

 The Interministerial Committee for Road Safety (CISR) established that as from 1 July 2012, all users of motor vehicles, including motorcycles (but excluding scooters) must have a breathalyser on board, with sanctions to be applied from November onwards. This obligation was stopped by the Ministry of the Interior and deferred to spring 2013. In the meantime, CISR will evaluate the relevance of such a measure.  


Vietnam

The Vietnamese government proposed extending the two-wheeler vehicle registration tax, already in effect in Hanoi, to the province of Ho Chi Minh. The tax varies depending on the value of the vehicle. The tax is 4 million Dong (approximately €150) for motorcycles of a value above 40 million Dong (€1,500) and 2 million Dong (approximately €75) for motorcycles of a value ranging from 15 to 40 million Dong (approximately €565-€1,500).

At the same time as and by adapting the Hanoi tax scheme, a proposal was made to apply the tax to the province of Ho Chi Minh, which will vary, depending on engine size, from 50,000 to 150,000 Dong/year (less than €10/year) with proceeds being used for road maintenance.  

A regulation is being prepared which will require pollution cycle fuel consumption testing and limits for the type approval of motorcycles and scooters with an engine below 150cc. The regulation will be based on EU regulations and corresponding United Nations regulations.

India

On 29 June 2012, the Central Government of India passed the Central Motor Vehicle Rules with General Statutory Rule 515 including, in national regulations, the possibility to adopt the UN's Global Technical Regulation no. 2 as an alternative to India's Bharat Stage III. Manufacturer of two-wheeler motor vehicles may therefore opt to follow the GTR N.2 international standard as an alternative to national regulations, to measure emissions, during type approval.

USA

In the last few days of the year, the US government approved the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which introduces tax measures to avoid the “fiscal cliff”, i.e. the sharp drop in the trade deficit in 2013. The many regulations of the Act include the extension, up to 1 January 2014, of a 10% tax credit (for a maximum of $2,500) for the purchase of extra-urban hybrid plug-in motorcycles and three-wheelers. A similar tax credit was provided for vehicles purchased up to December 2011.

Commercial vehicles

Italy

Based on indications in the Communication of the European Commission “Integrated Product Policy - Building on Environmental Life-Cycle Thinking”, the Italian Ministry for the Environment produced an “Action Plan for the environmental sustainability of consumption in the public administration sector"  (hereinafter PAN GPP). The PAN GPP sets out national objectives and identifies categories of goods, services and works considered as priority in terms of environmental impact. The ministerial decree of 8 May 2012 "Minimum environmental criteria for the purchase of road transport vehicles" is an integral part of the PAN GPP. Based on this decree, contracts for the purchase of such vehicles awarded by the public administration sector require the inclusion of minimum environmental criteria such as a maximum CO2 emissions limit and incentive criteria for particularly "environmentally friendly" vehicles.

In September 2012, ANFIA, the Italian Association of the Automotive Industry, FEDERAUTO, the Italian Federation of Car Dealers and UNRAE, the National Union of Foreign Vehicle Representatives, signed a protocol of understanding with the Department of Mobility and Transport of the City of Rome, “Protocol of understanding for the allocation of grants to purchase motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of up to 6.5 tons, for the transport of goods and for technological services”.
The Protocol, which aims to reduce urban traffic pollution from trucks and to improve the entire goods logistics system in areas of the city with traffic restrictions, is part of initiatives that Rome City Council has already adopted and implemented as part of its Strategic Plan for Sustainable Mobility intended to achieve a balance between the need to access goods and protect public health.

As from mid-January 2013, grants may be claimed by:

  • owners who demolish Euro 2 trucks with a gross vehicle weight up to 6.5 t, who hold an annual permit to transit in areas with traffic restrictions valid on 21 September 2012;
  • owners who demolish Euro 3 trucks with a gross vehicle weight up to 6.5 t, who hold an annual permit to transit in areas with traffic restrictions valid on the date when an application is made for the grant;

and that provide goods transport services (independently and for third parties), or are wholesalers, operators in the building industry, operators providing repairs and maintenance and/or cleaning services.

The new environmentally friendly vehicles purchased (also through finance leases) are eligible for grants if:

  • they have a gross vehicle weight up to 6.5 t (if electric/hybrid, methane, LPG vehicles);
  • they have a gross vehicle weight up to 3.5 t (if Diesel Euro 5 and subsequent).

Funds for € 2,513,300.14 have been allocated and the amount of the grant varies according to the limit of the gross vehicle weight and type of fuel system (electric/hybrid, methane, LPG, Diesel Euro 5).

France

In July, the Minister for Production Development, Arnaud Montebourg, presented a plan supporting the automotive industry which includes an increase in current environmental bonuses for purchasing electric, hybrid and low pollutant emission combustion engine vehicles (up to €7,000) based on a scheme in which the grant increases in proportion to the reduction in CO2 emissions. These incentives, which are in place until the end of 2012 and will be redetermined in the 2013 budget, also concern light commercial vehicles.