Automotive sector: overview on selected aspects of the EU Motor Vehicles Regulation

The European automotive industry contributes to about eight percent of the total EU GPD and is a key source of employment. Vehicles sold in the EU are highly regulated and the regulatory landscape is subject to frequent updates.
Overall, the EU legislation classifies vehicles into different categories:

  • Category M: vehicles carrying passengers, which can be light-duty vehicles (passenger cars and vans) or heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, buses, and coaches)
  • Category N: vehicles carrying goods, also classified into light-duty vehicles (passenger cars and vans) or heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, buses, and coaches)
  • Category L: 2- and 3-wheel vehicles and quadricycles
  • Category T: agricultural and forestry tractors and their trailers

The EU Motor Vehicle Regulation: scope and application

The EU Motor Vehicle Regulation 2018/858 applies since September 2020 and is the regulatory framework for motor vehicles, trailers, systems, components, and their separate technical units. This Regulation applies to motor vehicles classified as category M and N and to trailers of Category O. Category O are trailers with a maximum mass exceeding 10 tonnes.

Specifically, the EU Motor Vehicle Regulation covers vehicles (and their parts) to be used on public roads. However, manufacturers can apply for approval under the Motor Vehicle Regulation also for vehicles for:

  • Use principally on construction sites, in quarries, port, or airport facilities
  • Use by civil protection, fire services, and forces responsible for maintaining public order
  • Self-propelled vehicle not suitable for carrying passengers or goods, and that is not machinery mounted on a motor vehicle chassis

Approval of motor vehicles in the Union market

Approval authorities approve vehicles, systems, components, or separate technical units that comply with the Motor Vehicle Regulation. Manufacturers must submit an application for EU type-approval to the approval authority, including the information folder. They can only apply in one Member State and to only one approval authority. Once the compliance assessment is successfully completed, the approval authorities have to make available a copy of the EU type-approval certificate.

Content of information folder for EU type-approval

Manufacturers must submit an application to an approval authority electronically and include the information folder. The information folder includes:

  • Information document for single-step type-approval, mixed whole-vehicle type-approval, for step-by-step whole-vehicle type-approval, or, in the case of the type-approval of a system, component or separate technical unit
  • Drawings, photographs, data and any other relevant information
  • Indication of the procedure chosen for the EU type-approval (for vehicles)
  • Any additional information requested by the approval authority

Obligations of manufacturers under the Motor Vehicle Regulation

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Regulation, whether based in the EU or not. Non-EU manufacturers must appoint a single representative based in the EU, which represents the manufacturer before the approval authority. Additionally, non-EU manufacturers must also have an EU-based representative for market-surveillance purposes. This representative can be the same entity representing the manufacturer before the approval authority.

Moreover, manufacturers shall ensure that:

  • Their products are not designed to potentially divert from the performance shown in the tests, in a way that they would not comply with the legislation
  • Series production of vehicles, systems, components, and separate technical units remains in conformity with the approved type
  • Storage or transport conditions of vehicles or their parts do not negatively affect the compliance with the Regulation

Additionally, manufacturers should:

  • Examine and record complaints relating to risks, suspected incidents, or non-compliance issues
  • Indicate their name, registered trade name, or registered trademark as well as their contact address in the Union on the products (or on a document accompanying the product)
  • Make available data necessary for testing by third parties for possible non-compliance

Consultancy needed?

If you are a manufacturer of motor vehicles, trailers, or parts which fall under the scope of the Motor Vehicle Regulation, Obelis can be your regulatory partner in the European Union. Obelis ensures that manufacturers are always updated about the latest regulatory updates and verifies that they comply with the European law.

Contact us today for more information.

PRODlaw Library of Documents includes a specific section dedicated to the regulatory world of motor vehicles.


EUR-Lex (2018) Regulation (EU) 2018/858 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, amending Regulations (EC) No 715/2007 and (EC) No 595/2009 and repealing Directive 2007/46/EC. Retrieved on 27/06/2023.

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