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The updated EU GSR and your auto manufacturing business

The European Union has updated their vehicle safety standards and requires changes to auto manufacturing in order to help keep the roads safe

Revisions to the European Union’s General Safety Regulations (GSR) for commercial vehicles were first passed in 2019 as part of an effort to improve road safety. They target auto manufacturing and introduce new mandatory safety features all vehicles must include. The updated regulations are expected to have saved at least 25,000 lives by 2038

All types of commercial vehicles are covered by these regulations; meaning cars, buses, trucks, vans, and any other vehicle being sold will need to conform to new auto manufacturing requirements. The timeline for these vehicle safety improvements differs, however.

Vehicles in the EU go through two phases of approval. The first phase is called homologation, or approval of a new vehicle type. This needs to happen when a new build of vehicle is proposed for release. 

The second stage of approval is registration, which simply refers to when a vehicle obtains its license plate. Under the revised GSR, commercial vehicles will need to implement agreed-upon safety improvements by 2022 to achieve homologation, and by 2024 to earn registration. 

Practically speaking, what this means is that all newly produced vehicles already must come equipped with these safety features, and by 2024, existing vehicles will need to incorporate them as well.

What is changing as a result of these auto manufacturing regulations?

Worker in a safety mask and uniform working at a manufcturing plant

The European Union has identified six auto safety features that every commercial vehicle must incorporate in order to be compliant with vehicle safety standards. These are: 

  • Frontal blind spot coverage
  • Adjacent blind spot coverage
  • Reversing cameras for safer parking
  • Speed limit assist warnings
  • Driver drowsiness warnings
  • Tire pressure monitoring systems 

Most of these improvements are concerned with keeping drivers aware of surrounding conditions, and that’s because human error is the biggest threat to road safety. Driver awareness causes the most accidents each year, so having technology in place that reduces the consequences of unawareness is a crucial way to improve road safety.

Of course there are more specific auto manufacturing rules for different types of vehicles. For example, there are enough rules for manufacturing heavy vehicles like trucks that the deadlines are different as well: most of these truck safety features will be mandatory from 2024 onwards, while some will not be mandatory until 2026 or 2029. 

As of 2024, all newly manufactured trucks will need to have emergency stop signals and a way or installing alcohol sensors, in addition to the vehicle safety features common to all commercial vehicles. In 2026, they will need a system for determining when drivers are no longer paying attention to a situation. And in 2029, trucks will need to implement direct vision improvements and include data recorders in all vehicles, in the event of an accident

Your role as an auto manufacturer

Though the EU is strict about which features commercial vehicles need to include, manufacturers have freedom to decide how to implement said features. That gives you some freedom to design systems that work effectively with your existing product. 

The range of new safety features also means you have new things to look for and test during vehicle inspections, which you should perform regularly in manufacturing. If you want to be able to sell automobiles within the EU and in several other countries, they will need to include the six essential safety features identified above. Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK, and Israel are already following the GSR, which more countries expected to follow in the coming years. 
Speaking of the future, these General Safety Regulations also establish a framework for the manufacture of self-driving vehicles. There is no time frame associated with automated vehicle regulations yet, but the EU will base its auto manufacturing and safety requirements on existing UN rules governing these vehicles.

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