Safety and environmental groups are raising concerns about the increasing popularity of American-style pick-up trucks in Europe. While the European Union has stringent vehicle standards aimed at enhancing road safety and minimizing vehicle emissions, there appears to be a significant loophole in the regulations.
The Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) is a mechanism that facilitates the import of specific “off-road” vehicles into Europe. Originally, this was designed for specialized vehicles adapted for purposes such as emergency services or for those with mobility impairments. However, it’s now increasingly being utilized to bring in American-style pick-up trucks, which are not traditionally common on European roads.
The major concern with this loophole is that vehicles imported under the IVA are not obligated to adhere to the 2019 EU General Safety Regulation (GSR) or the stringent EU car and van CO2 standards. This effectively means these vehicles can sidestep vital environmental and safety regulations that other cars in Europe must comply with.
Why are these American-style pick-up trucks considered a potential environmental hazard?
- Their larger size and weight mean they generally consume more fuel, leading to higher CO2 emissions. Additionally, their higher ground clearance and broader frontal area can make them less aerodynamic, further reducing fuel efficiency. Such vehicles might be suited for the vast and diverse terrains of North America, but in the compact and dense urban settings of Europe, they could contribute significantly to air pollution.
- There are safety implications. Due to their design and size, pick-up trucks can pose a higher risk in collisions, especially with smaller vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists. The increased height can also limit the driver’s direct vision, making it harder to see obstacles or pedestrians, particularly in busy European city streets.
Prominent organizations like T&E, the European Transport Safety Council, and the European Cyclists’ Federation, among others, are urging regulators to ensure uniform safety and environmental standards across the EU market. Their primary concern is that the IVA system offers an unfair advantage to imports that might not be as eco-friendly or as safe as other vehicles on European roads.
The message is clear: while it’s essential to respect the diverse range of vehicles and choices available, it’s equally crucial to ensure that all vehicles on European roads are as green and safe as possible. The current IVA system might be inadvertently promoting a trend that could be detrimental to Europe’s environmental and safety aspirations.