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Global Agreements on Road Vehicles


To facilitate global commerce in road vehicles it has long been recognised that there is a necessity to harmonise regulatory requirements across the major markets. These activities were initially undertaken on a European level by WP.29 a subsidiary body of the United Nations, Economic Commission for Europe, Inland Transport Committee, but that role has now expanded to a global one. WP.29 was originally titled Working Party On The Construction Vehicles but latterly has been renamed World Forum For Harmonisation Of Vehicle Regulations.

UNECE 1958 Agreement (Regulation)

In the framework of the United Nations' Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in Geneva, and for mobile applications, WP.29 and its subsidiary bodies are developing Regulations under the 1958 Agreement in cooperation with all Contracting Parties to the Agreement and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The 1958 Agreement is entitled “Agreement concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or be used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions.” UNECE Regulations are not applicable on a mandatory basis to all Contracting Parties to the 1958 Agreement, but if a Contracting Party decides to apply a UNECE Regulation, the adoption becomes a binding act. A contracting party that has adopted a Regulation under the 1958 Agreement is allowed to grant type approvals pursuant to that Regulation and is required to accept the type approval of any other contracting party that has adopted the same Regulation. European and some non-European countries, require an authority together with a technical service undertaking approval testing, to assess compliance of components and the vehicle with the legal requirements. The process is known as type approval. In contrast North America uses the self-certification process. For instance, the Regulation 110 is an example of UNECE Regulation under the 1958 Agreement; it is related to the “uniform provisions concerning the approval of: I. specific components of motor vehicles using compressed natural gas (CNG) in their propulsion system ; II. vehicles with regard to the installation of specific components of an approved type for the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) in their propulsion system.”

The 1958 Agreement was revised in 1995 (Revision 2) to promote the participation of non-European countries and became a global agreement. The United States did not adhere to this Agreement. Members of the 1958 agreement are: Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Hungary, Czech Republic, Spain, Yugoslavia, United Kingdom, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Romania, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Greece, Ireland, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Belarus, Estonia, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Latvia, Bulgaria, Turkey , The Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia, European Community, Japan, Australia, Ukraine, and The Republic of South Africa.

UNECE 1998 Agreement (Global Technical Regulation)

Global Technical Regulations (GTR) apply to road vehicles with the aim of developing globally harmonised technical requirements. GTR contain technical requirements and are established under the 1998 Agreement ("Agreement concerning the establishing of global technical regulations for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or be used on wheeled vehicles", done at Geneva on 25 June 1998). GTR are different from the EU Directives and UNECE regulations because they do not call for mutual recognition of type approvals or certifications; they permit existing approval procedures to be utilized by harmonizing only the technical requirements. The 1998 Agreement allows all regions of the world to participate in the development of GTRs for vehicles and their components. Canada, China, EC, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the USA are included in the contracting parties to this Agreement.

UNECE WP29 GRPE Draft ECE “´58 Agreement” Regulations

Work on proposals for harmonised hydrogen vehicle regulations for Europe was initiated in 1998 by the European Integrated Hydrogen Project (EIHP) . After a survey of existing regulations identified none applicable directly to the use of hydrogen in vehicles, EIHP initiated the process of developing initial proposals for new, flexible harmonised regulations. The draft proposals were based as far as possible on performance requirements rather than historical technical solutions with the aim of encouraging rather than restricting the development and introduction of safe, new technologies. Various analyses were undertaken by the EIHP partners to provide a base from which to develop draft harmonised regulations.

For the basis of the draft harmonised regulations, EIHP chose United Nations’ Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) “ECE” Regulation as at that time Global Technical Regulations (GTR) were not possible. Additionally the ECE was the drafting body for related alternative fuel regulations for CNG and LPG.

Due to differences in the technologies between compressed gaseous hydrogen (CGH2) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) storage, two drafts were developed. The drafts cover vehicle storage, on-board refilling and fuel supply components and installation of the components/systems within vehicles. A primary objective of the regulations was to avoid defining technical solutions by developing performance requirements. In a similar manner efforts were made to avoid limiting the development of future hydrogen technologies, e.g. by avoiding specifying upper limits for CGH2 storage pressures. The aim of the draft regulations was to enhance the safe and economic manufacture and use of hydrogen fuelled vehicles. Validation of the draft hydrogen regulations was an ongoing process. A workshop was held in 1999 to discuss the basis of the draft regulations, to which representatives were invited from national authorities, industry and research institutions. Subsequently comments on the proposals were obtained from national authorities and external experts which were integrated into the proposals. The continuous development process was continued into EIHP2 and resulted in a number of iterations until wide consensus was achieved. In particular the gaseous hydrogen draft was heavily revised to avoid difficulties experienced during the certification of CNG components/vehicles to ECE R110. Additionally the draft resulting from the first phase of EIHP was further validated within EIHP2 by following the test and approval procedures for storage vessels and the installation of the associated hydrogen system onboard vehicles by BMW and DaimlerChrysler.

The proposals were presented to UNECE WP29 in 2001 and were subsequently forwarded to the subsidiary group, Working Party on Pollution and Energy (GRPE) which established an ad-hoc or informal group to coordinate the further technical development of the drafts and to achieve wide international consensus. The informal group is now known as Informal Group “Hydrogen/Fuel Cell Vehicles” (IG-HFCV) and was integrated in the H2FCV sub-working group environment. Work included harmonisation meetings with ISO experts developing standards with similar scopes. The scope of the draft ECE regulations includes the hydrogen storage, refuelling and fuel supply components and systems, and their installation within a road vehicle as OEM equipment but excludes, for example, the fuel cell system.

The draft ECE LH2 regulation was introduced as a formal working document at the GRPE in 2003 together with latest amendments . The draft ECE CGH2 regulation was introduced as a formal working document at the GRPE in 2004 together with latest amendments . During 2005 UNECE WP29 took the decision not to proceed with ECE Regulations for hydrogen vehicles and instead develop a completely new GTR.


During 2005 UNECE WP29 took the decision to proceed directly to a completely new GTR and initiated development work following support from the major markets of Europe, Japan and USA amongst others. Authorities and manufacturers in all major countries or regions including Europe, North America and Japan have agreed that long term legal requirements for the use of hydrogen in motor vehicles should be based on Global Technical Regulations (GTR) under the UNECE WP29 “1998 Agreement”. A GTR contains technical requirements but allows compliance to be “approved” in accordance with the normal system of each country, i.e. type approval or self-certification. The work is being undertaken by the Informal Group “Hydrogen/Fuel Cell Vehicles” (IG-HFCV) co-sponsored by Germany, Japan and the USA, see diagram below. Despite universal agreement on the ultimate aim of GTR for hydrogen vehicles, there are still significant open discussions regarding the scope, underlying philosophy and detail of such a document. Hydrogen GTR are planned to be in place by the end of 2010, though this is a very ambitious timescale. The current roadmap to the introduction of a GTR can be seen at:

Figure 2

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Page last modified on December 03, 2008, at 11:42 AM