Understanding Automotive Certification: A Short Guide

What is vehicle certification and homologation?

Automotive certification and homologation is an essential activity for getting your vehicle products into the automotive market. There are two systems that govern the adoption of international regulations; self-certification or type approval. Both require adherance to manufacturing quality standards and are enforceable by national and international law. 

North America and Canada generally follow the self-certification route whereas the rest of the world typically follow the type approval process. Homologation otherwise known, as ‘Type Approval’ compliance certification is the process manufacturers and suppliers need to go through for constituent parts and sub-systems to be approved for sale in different markets. Self-certification and compliance programs together with homologation demonstrates that vehicles, their systems and components meet the official regulatory standards and specifications of their destination country. 

Who needs homologation?

Homologation is the term used for world approvals and specifically Europe and the signatory countries to the UN ECE agreement. Homologation standards are applicable to all vehicle types and systems from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles and tyres to headlights and braking systems. Supplier and importers of these critical components and products need to comply with the required standards. North America follows a similar path, but with the Federal Motor Vehicle Standard (FMVSS). 

Why get type approval and certification?

To be part of the automotive supply chain you need to ensure your systems, components or vehicles satisfy the requirements set by the national and international regulatory bodies where they are used, and it is mandatory to get this approval. Type approval tests compliance with safety rules (e.g. braking performance, crash tests), noise and emissions limits as well as production requirements.  If you meet all the relevant requirements your vehicle or components will be authorised for sale.  

What is the homologation process?

Different markets have different country specific regulations and requirements, so the process starts with determining what these are along with the required scope for testing and approval. Using the results of the test reports, the homologation documentation is submitted to the Approved Authorities for review and approval. The homologation process takes a number of forms from component approval (tyres, lights, seatbelts etc.) to system approval (braking system, lighting system etc.) to whole vehicle type approval (WVTA).       

What is Conformity of Production (CoP)? 

Conformity of Production is a way of demonstrating the ability to consistently produce the same product to the same standard. You must have CoP procedures in place, with documented evidence that you can produce a series of products that all meet the identical specifications and so meet homologation requirements.

How Smithers can help

As the number of rules, norms and standards that apply to vehicles continues to grow globally, we can help you navigate this complicated but vitally important process.

  • Determine the technical, regulatory and legal requirements of your target markets
  • Define market strategy, risk assessments and budget analysis
  • Assessing conformity of production and implementing a quality management system
  • Project management of type approval procedures
  • Coordination with Government Authorities and test facilities
  • Confidently prove compliance or meet specification
  • Schedule and timing management