New Norwegian regulation applicable to vehicles

After several postponements, a new regulation applicable to vehicles comes into force on 1 October 2022 (the "Norwegian Car Regulation"). The new regulation implements the EU Regulations (EU) 2018/858 ("Motor Vehicle Regulation") and (EU) 2019/2144 ("General Safety Regulation") into Norwegian law. Among the changes are stricter requirements for approval of vehicles, and updated technical and safety requirements for vehicle type approvals.

The combination of more extensive market surveillance by the Norwegian public authorities and higher technical requirements strengthens the need for producers and importers of vehicles to ensure that their vehicles are in compliance with the applicable regulations.

This update provides an overview over the key implications and take away ahead of the commencement of the Norwegian Car Regulation.

Out with the old, in with the new

The Norwegian Car Regulation replaces the identically named regulation from 2012 and entails a different structure than the old regulation. It contains three main sections: (i) general provisions, (ii) technical requirements and (iii) administrative provisions. The regulation incorporates the two EU regulations by stating that designated parts of the regulations shall apply as Norwegian law pursuant to the Norwegian Car Regulation.

The regulation will apply to all vehicles and their trailers, regardless of when the vehicle is registered or put into use in Norway. The new technical requirements, however, must be at the time the vehicle was first registered in Norway, and the older car regulations are still relevant with respect to the technical requirements for some vehicles.

Mechanisms for market surveillance and control

One of the key changes following the Motor Vehicle Regulation is the introduction of comprehensive market surveillance for verifying the compliance of vehicles and related components in the market, and implementing corrective measures in case of non-compliance. The purpose of this is to ensure that EU type-approved vehicles and components already in use meet the applicable regulations. This means, among other things, that random samples will be taken of vehicles already in the market, in order to detect non-compliance with the regulations.

Pursuant to the Norwegian Car Regulation, the market surveillance authority is vested in the Norwegian Public Roads Administration's department for supervision (Nw. "Statens Vegvesen Tilsyn"), with the Directorate for Public Roads (Nw. "Vegdirektoratet") as appeal body. The surveillance authority is vested with the power to carry out market surveillance and impose sanctions in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Regulation. The implementation causes the coming into force of a requirement to conduct mandatory tests specified as a proportion of the total number of vehicles registered within Norway.

Updated safety requirements for type-approval

The General Safety Regulation contains almost 30 updated requirements for safety functions in vehicles and trailers for type approval. The purpose of those detailed requirements is to improve vehicle and road safety, mainly by minimizing the room for human error that can lead to accidents.

The regulation requires incorporation of several safety measures to assist the driver, which include, among other things, support systems for speed adjustment, warning systems for inattentive/tired drivers, reversing detections, blind spot monitors, alcohol interlock installation facilitation etc. Furthermore, passenger cars, lorries and buses must also be equipped with an "event data recorder" to be used in connection with the investigation of accidents. In addition, several specific requirements will apply for specific vehicle types. For example, cars and vans will need safety features such as lane keeping systems and automated braking. These rules will apply to new vehicle types from 2022 and to all new vehicles from 2024.

End-of-series vehicles

For vehicles that are in stock, but have not yet been registered for use when the Norwegian Car Regulation enters into force, an exception is implemented allowing for later registration within the limits of the Motor Vehicle Regulation. This exception only applies within the first 12 or 18 months after the expiry of the old regulation, depending on the completion status of the vehicle(s) on 1 October 2022.

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Our view

The stricter obligations imposed on manufacturers and operators now implemented has been in force in the EU since September 2020 and July 2022. The measures will likely cause increased workloads for manufacturers and distributors with vehicles in the Norwegian market. The good news is that the Norwegian Car Regulation causes the Norwegian legal environment to be more on par with EU regulations.

The changes recognises that there is a need to introduce market surveillance to complement type approval requirements. We do expect the changes to cause increased market surveillance tests, which will be beneficial to compliant parties and potentially detrimental to those who do not ensure compliance.

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