Before a new vehicle can be road registered in Malaysia, it must first pass a vehicle type approval (VTA) process, which is conducted by the road transport department’s (JPJ) automotive engineering division.

The purpose of the VTA is to ensure a vehicle’s construction, usage and specifications are compliant with standards determined by the 1987 Road Transport Act. These standards come from the World Forum Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulation (WP29), which is responsible for developing and amending technical guidelines for vehicle regulation known UN Regulations, UN Global Technical Regulations and UN Rules.

Malaysia is one of 64 countries participating in the WP29, with other countries all signed on to the multi-lateral 1958 Agreement (with differing effective dates) that permits participation. Any country that is part of the 1958 Agreement has the authority to test and approve any manufacturer’s design of a regulated product, regardless of the country in which that vehicle’s component was produced.

Components that are type-approved according to the set technical guidelines are marked with an E and a number (i.e. E 1) within a circle. This e-marking differs depending on the country the component originated from (it’s E 52 for Malaysia), and in some instances, there are additional descriptors to indicate the precise version of the regulation met and type approval number.

Also differing from country to country is the number of UN Regulations being enforced. According to JPJ, 54 UN Regulations were in force in 2012, with more being added on in 2015, 2017 and 2020 for a total of 114 currently.

It should be noted that the are different categories of vehicles that require VTA, with the exception being micromobility vehicles that have speeds not exceeding 50 km/h. These include mopeds, bicycles, electric bicycles and personal mobility devices.

To give us a better understanding of the VTA process, the department recently organised a demonstration involving the BMW iX, which is under the more common M1 category for VTA. Before any inspection begins, a vehicle manufacturer will submit a VTA application along with all relevant test reports issued by the technical service recognised by the UN or witness by the approval authority or agencies recognised by the approval authority.

From there, JPJ will verify the documents submitted and perform physical checks on the vehicle to ensure compliance with stipulated UN Regulations. This covers a variety of components like seat belt anchorage, lighting components, warning triangle, horn and even the arrangement of foot controls.

JPJ officers will also test the vehicle’s roadworthiness on public roads and in a controlled test environment to ensure systems like a vehicle’s electronic stability control, brakes and other safety features are working as they should. The vehicle’s emissions (if any) and other environmental regulations are also tested to ensure compliance, with all testing conducted using specialised equipment capable of testing a variety of parameters.

The gathered test results are then compiled into reports before being submitted to a committee known as the National Committee for Type Approval and Homologation, which assesses each VTA application. The committee is chaired by JPJ director-general and comprises various government and private agencies such as SIRIM, MIROS, MITI, MOT, Malaysian Customs, PUSPAKOM, JAS, KPDNKK, MOSTI, Standards Malaysia and also the Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI).

Should the vehicle pass the VTA, a certificate is then issued to the car company and vehicles produced or imported can then be road registered for use in Malaysia. All in all, the entire VTA process take about 20 working days to a month, the department noted.



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