October 29th 2011 will see the introduction of new European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) regulation for all minibuses. The new regulations will bring minibus construction in line with the much higher European recognised standards similar to that of passenger cars. When the new regulations are in place all new minibuses registered after the above date will require a certificate of approval and compliance issued by the Vehicle Certification Agency.
ECWVTA regulations have been progressively introduced since April 2009. Under the new system, a prototype is tested, if it passes the tests and the production arrangements also pass inspection, then vehicles or components of the same type are approved for production and sale within Europe, without further testing. Over recent years Red Kite have invested in the design, development and testing of their future school minibus range well ahead of the full implementation date.
As with any new regulations there will inevitably be some who may take advantage of those who are unfamiliar with the new legislation and may try to sell non-compliant minibuses at reduced prices, although this may first appear a bargain - Buyer Beware! A minibus without a certificate of approval and compliance could go undetected until presented for its first class 5 MOT test.
As a rule in order to achieve improved passenger safety and comfort, minibuses will invariably be based on a larger vehicle platform. This applies to a greater extent when carrying wheelchair occupants in a specifically adapted accessible minibus.