Towards increased market surveillance for vehicles and engines in France with the creation of a new dedicated authority

As a consequence of the strengthening of European regulations on the protection of health and the environment following the Diesel issues, the French Ministry in charge of transports announced on 11 June 2020 the creation of a new office within this Ministry named the Vehicles and Engines Market Surveillance Service ("Service de surveillance du marché des véhicules et des moteurs" or SSMVM).

The mission of SSMVM will be to check that vehicles and engines placed on the French market comply with the technical requirements laid down by European and national regulations on safety, health and environment.

French Governmental Ordinance no. 2020-701 dated 10 June 2020, Decree no. 2020-703 dated 10 June 2020 and an Order of the same day detail the new powers and scope of intervention of this new office. These French regulations implement into French Law a number of EU Regulations (Regulation (EU) 2018/858, Regulation (EC) no. 167/2013, Regulation (EC) no. 168/2013 and Regulation (EC) no. 1222/2009).

SSMVM’s scope of action will include a large spectrum of vehicles and topics: passengers and good vehicles, agricultural and forestry vehicles, two and three-wheelers and quadricycles, the labeling of tires as well as gas emissions of engines of non-road mobile machinery ("NRMM"). SSMVM's monitoring missions will also cover all equipment intended for these vehicles.

SSMVM should have a budget of 5 million Euros and will carry out documentary checks, tests and trials on its own initiative or following complaints. SSMVM is expected to perform around a hundred of tests and trials every year.

SSMVM will also have extended powers to investigate potential non-conformities to applicable regulations. SSMVM’s agents will notably have the powers to visit manufacturers’ premises, to seize products and to check online sales using aliases. Manufacturers will not be able to oppose trade secrets to refuse to disclose information to SSMVM’s agents in the scope of an investigation.

In the event of a finding of non-conformities, SSMVM may order administrative fines (up to 300,000 Euros per non-compliant engine and 1 million Euros per non-compliant vehicle) or other administrative measures (recalls, suspension of the placing on the market, destructions…). Criminal penalties may also be ordered against non-compliant manufacturers and their officers (up to 3 year imprisonment and fines up to 1 million Euros).

The creation of SSMVM clearly shows the intent of French authorities to be more active in the field of vehicles market surveillance and in particular emissions. Combined with the current environmental focus of the government's post-COVID 19 political agenda, automotive manufacturers should be prepared to see more enforcement of health, safety and environmental regulations in the coming months.

If you would like further details on how the creation SSMVM may impact your activity, please feel free to contact us.

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