Main inspection becomes increasingly important
When systems for assisted and automated driving are installed in a car, care must be taken to ensure that they – along with the passive, active and integrated safety systems – work reliably throughout the vehicle’s service life. Only in this way can they have their desired impact. Regular vehicle inspections will therefore become even more important than they already are, not least because of the growing complexity of the systems and the risk of electronic tampering. Given the rapid increase in the number of electronic systems, the safety partnership between vehicle manufacturers and the inspection organizations must be realigned. As early as the vehicle development and homologation stage, rules must be laid down specifying how inspection experts will be able to inspect these vehicles later down the line.
The main inspection adapter, introduced in Germany on July 1, 2015, will take on a central role here. This tool allows experts to query the availability and version of the safety systems installed, monitor current sensor data and check the function and state of the safety-relevant vehicle systems. Initial experience has already shown that the main inspection adapter is an important step in increasing road safety. For example, studies conducted by FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH confirm that this new tool has identified a whole host of problems with ESP systems as well as many cases where the brake power on the rear axle of passenger cars was far too low.
The potential of this adapter is far from exhausted, which is why FSD are working in collaboration with the authorities and inspection organizations to intensify and further optimize inspection methods using the vehicle interface. These efforts are being complemented by enhancements and refinements in conventional areas such as deceleration measurement on motorcycles or in future areas such as eCall and safety-relevant car-2-X functions.
Despite all the advances made in the field of electronic components, mechanical systems will of course continue to play a key role when it comes to road safety. During the main inspection, therefore, the brake and steering systems will be subject to every bit as rigorous an examination as the lights, axles, wheels and tires, suspension systems, chassis, frame and structure as well as visibility conditions, to name just a few examples. One look at the results of the main inspections performed in Germany in 2014 clearly demonstrates the importance of this regular check.
According to the Federal Office for Motor Vehicles, defects and shortcomings were found in 38% of all the vehicles inspected; 23% were found to have serious defects. Problems with the lights accounted for the lion’s share (25%), followed by brakes (almost 20%) and the axles, including wheels and tires (14%).
Nevertheless, the number of vehicles with problems has fallen steadily over the past few years. In 2000, almost 50% of cars had faults. One decisive factor is, of course, the vehicle age. It is interesting to note here that the proportion of cars inspected in Germany aged nine years or older has increased steadily. In 2012, 8.34 million cars fell into this category – by 2014, this figure had risen to 8.73 million, which constitutes more than 44% of all vehicles inspected. This clearly indicates that Germans are holding on to their cars for longer, a trend that can be partially attributed to demographic change and, as such, is expected to continue. The average age of all cars in Germany is now 9.2 years. According to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the average age of all cars in the EU in 2014 was almost 9.7 years – in 2006, its was “just” 8.4 years.