Coach operators that travel internationally and which need to retrofit vehicles with smart tachograph version 2 units by 31 December have been warned of potential difficulty in having that task completed in time.
Capacity at tachograph calibration stations to undertake retrofits has been identified as challenged by head unit supplier Skillray, which is working to make affected operators aware of the possible bottleneck.
Coaches currently equipped with non-smart tachographs – i.e. those with earlier generation digital units or analogue recording devices – and which are used internationally must be retrofitted with version 2 smart units by the end of 2024.
That equipment uses GPS to automatically record every border crossing. Newly registered in-scope vehicles have been required to be fitted with smart tachograph version 2 units since 21 August 2023, although a grace period in the UK that exempts newly registered vehicles that do not travel internationally from that requirement expires on 21 February.
For existing vehicles with version 1 smart tachographs and which are used internationally, retrofit to smart version 2 will be required by 19 August 2025.
The full timetable and requirements were updated by DVSA on 11 January. Its guidance confirms that in each case, use of either a ‘full’ smart version 2 unit or a transitional model will deliver compliance. There will be no requirement for transitional units to be upgraded to full capacity later. Existing vehicles used domestically do not fall under retrofit scope.
Skillray says that calibration centre capacity will be the main constraint in achieving the 31 December deadline. It adds that the supply chain may also come under strain, although tachograph manufacturers have said that they can satisfy demand.
“Our information is that all countries in Europe face the same issues,” adds a Skillray spokesperson, who notes that retrofitting a tachograph unit takes up to two hours. An independent tachograph centre has told Skillray that when routine calibration work is considered, it has the capacity to accommodate “maybe two or three retrofits per day.”
The Skillray spokesperson has urged operators affected by the requirement to move quickly in making appointments. “As a key supplier, we are doing all we can to prevent any issues, but only starting early will prevent the bottleneck that is going to occur with workshop availability.”
Transport compliance specialist Convey estimates that 10,000 UK vehicles are in scope of the 31 December retrofit deadline. Director Karen Crispe believes that even if all affected operators began booking those for retrofit now, “it is unlikely that they will all be upgraded in time.”
Ms Crispe notes that the cost of retrofit is expected to be around £1,000. She adds that should a vehicle with a non-compliant tachograph cross into the EU after the relevant deadline, a fine will likely be levied, and it will “probably [be] escorted to the nearest calibration station… to wait for a smart tachograph version two to be installed at the operator’s expense.”
Convey will hold a webinar on 20 February at 1100hrs to further explain the deadlines for smart tachograph version 2 retrofit requirements. Speakers will include representatives from DVSA and tachograph manufacturer Stoneridge.