John Brett

John is a professional engineer with 50 years experience.

John has designed and built many cars, trucks, and vehicle assembly facilities.

John has worked on design of roads, bridges, cranes, transmission towers, and buildings, and operation, maintenance and upgrade of hydro and gas turbine power stations.

John was a LVV Certifier for 13 years. John has long been a whistle-blower, expressing the view that the LVV system is dangerously deficient. John’s authority was revoked in December 2012.

John rides a 1992 Yamaha FJ1200ABS, and is also a keen road and off road cyclist.

APOLOGY

“The LVVTA has brought it to my attention that statements I have made in relation to it and its employees may have been perceived as defamatory.

I sincerely regret that and apologise for any harm caused. I have taken down the statements identified by the LVVTA of concern to it.

I have strong views about the low volume vehicle certification process and intend in the future to direct my energies into the public inquiry now being held in relation to it.”

John Brett 7th October 2015

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Government probe into LVVTA and LVV system

1 Low volume vehicle review welcomed

Press release- NZ Police
Thursday, 9 July 2015, 11:53 am

and
Hon Craig Foss

Hon Craig Foss
Associate Minister of Transport
9 July 2015

Low volume vehicle review welcomed

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss is welcoming a review of the certification process for vehicles built from scratch or modified for a specialised purpose.

The review of low volume vehicle (LVV) certification, initiated by the New Zealand Transport Agency, will be undertaken by Standards New Zealand.

“The LVV certification process is about ensuring vehicles built from scratch or modified for a specialised purpose are safe to be on the road,” Mr Foss says.

The review will begin this month with a scoping phase. This will involve working closely with the vehicle industry, certifiers and others to better understand the strengths of the current system and potential areas for improvement.

“Standards New Zealand brings an independent perspective to this review. I’m pleased it will be seeking feedback from a wide range of people, including those in the industry,” Mr Foss says.

“I’m keen to ensure our LVV certification system enables innovators to utilise new technologies and create opportunities.”

More information on the LVV certification process: www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicles/warrants-and-certificates/modifying-your-vehicle

Craig Foss Letter and Standards Association review proposal

Statement from David Seymour, Epsom electorate MP, leader of the ACT party New Zealand, and qualified Engineer

“I have viewed the reports related to UDM’s vehicles, both those prepared by LVVTA and those by professional engineers. It is clear that the LVV process, while ideal for builders of hot rods, kit cars, and the like, does not have the technical expertise to service commercial operators working closer to the frontier of technology.

A review of this system is long overdue. If New Zealand is going to be have the knowledge economy that most of us want, it must have a regulatory environment that works.”

3 Government minister to probe NZTA ban on wheelchair-access vehicles
Automotive News

Associate-Transport-Minister-Craig-Foss

Associate-Transport-Minister-Craig-Foss

ACT-leader-David-Seymour

ACT-leader-David-Seymour

Roger-Phillips, UDM

Roger-Phillips, UDM

CARTOON CENSORED

Engineer’s report on faulty wheelchair vehicles haunts NZTA (UN-SAFER JOURNEYS?)

KIVI Kea Carnival conversion

KIVI Kea Carnival conversion

Automotive News

The NZ Transport Agency dismissed a written report from one of its senior engineers warning that millions of dollars worth of wheelchair-access vehicles imported from Italy for use by the Accident Compensation Commission were unsafe and should not be allowed on NZ roads until they were repaired.

Tauranga mechanical engineer Bill Cassidy – a long-time NZTA heavy vehicle certifier – listed seven major faults with the heavily modified vehicles, questioning their life expectancy and saying they could risk life and limb because of “poor workmanship.”

But the NZTA said Cassidy’s findings didn’t justify “further enquiry” because the vehicles had already “been certified in New Zealand under the Low Volume Vehicle Code”(LVV). The code is road-worthiness approval issued by NZTA-appointed LVV certifiers supported and trained by the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association (LVVTA), a blood relative of the NZTA set up in the late 1990s to certify ‘hobby’ vehicles like hot-rods.

WHAT ENGINEER CASSIDY FOUND …

In the six-plus years since Cassidy’s report – November 10, 2008 – the 90 Italian-modified vehicles have needed on-going repairs at a cost independent engineers have put at hundreds of thousands of dollars on top of the $NZ8.34 million ACC paid for them. Carterton company Braiden International did many of the repairs under a government agency contract, company spokesperson Rochelle Williams confirmed.

The vehicles – 50 long- and 40 short-wheelbase Kia Carnival vans – were converted in 2007-08 by Italian company KIVI and bought by the ACC for its disabled clients. The ACC had cancelled an agreement with its NZ supplier of such vehicles. The long-wheelbase Italian models each cost $NZ94,825 and the short-wheelbase $NZ89,599. KIVI, based near Turin, is a long-time supplier of vehicles for European health agencies.

Cassidy’s findings included:

a modified rear suspension assembly that would (and later did) fracture under stress
a relocated spare wheel that could break loose from its makeshift mounting and become a “missile” inside the cabin – “a lethal situation”
a replacement floor “not made to accepted engineering practice” and made of steel so “flexible” it could “distort upwards into the passenger compartment” in an accident
an airbag system whose inspection module had been “modified” to show it was working when it wasn’t
seatbelts anchored to the floor in a way that didn’t comply with the Low Volume Vehicle Code

ACC COMPLAINS OF CASSIDY’S ‘CONDUCT’ …

Cassidy sent his report to ACC executive John Payne. On November 19, 2008, Cassidy received a reply – not from Payne but NZTA response team manager Dave Robson. Robson wrote that the NZTA had received a complaint from the ACC “about your conduct as a NZTA-appointed heavy vehicle certifier.”

Robson went on … “Further I have read your deed of appointment and have been unable to locate a clause which authorises you to specifically enquire into Low Volume Vehicle certification issues or to demand information from vehicle modifiers or any other persons in relation to Low Volume vehicles.”

Addressing Cassidy’s criticisms of the Italian vehicles Robson wrote, in part … “the technical department within the NZ Transport Agency have not found that your specific complaints justify further enquiry as they are satisfied that vehicle does not currently present a risk to land transport safety.”

Cassidy soon fired back, saying Robson had “jumped to conclusions without ascertaining the facts.” He said he had a contract with the ACC to inspect the ‘engineering’ issues of the vehicles in production, “as a professional engineer, not as a certifier.”

Cassidy further told Robson that ACC executive Gail Kettle had asked him early in August, 2008, if he would like to see one of the Italian-modified Kias. Robson later replied, saying “it is not my intent to enter into a debate over the issue.”

ACC THOUGHT ITALIAN VEHICLE WAS ‘BEE’S KNEES’ …

Cassidy had had many dealings with Kettle, then the ACC purchasing executive for health and provider relationships. Cassidy had previously inspected vehicles modified for the ACC by Waikato firm Vehicle Adaption Services (VAS). Kettle cancelled the ACC agreement with VAS after a recall over a reported seatbelt malfunction and chose Italian firm KIVI as the preferred new supplier. Kettle is now the Earthquake Commission’s general manager customer and claims.

The vehicle Kettle arranged for Cassidy to see was trucked from Wellington to Tauranga, where it was met by an ACC occupational therapist. “Gail Kettle wanted me to check it out because she thought it was the bee’s knees,” Cassidy said. It was late in the evening when he met the therapist at an ACC’s client house. “The therapist asked me about towbars, seatbelts and the vehicle in general. Only a brief inspection by torchlight was possible. I asked if I could inspect it properly in the morning light but she said she had to drive it to Auckland that night.”

What Cassidy had seen in a few minutes concerned him, he said. “For a start the heavily modified rear end wasn’t strong enough to accommodate a towbar.” He said he met with Kettle weeks later on another matter. “I hinted that I wasn’t happy with what I had seen with the Italian vehicles. She was in a hurry to get to a meeting and that was the last conversation I had with her,” said Cassidy.

IDENTICAL VEHICLE HAD ‘REMEDIAL’ WORK DONE ON IT …

Over the next few weeks Cassidy arranged to inspect an identical vehicle in use by a family in Te Awamutu. He said the family told him the vehicle had just had ‘remedial’ work done on it in Wellington. On November 6, 2008, Cassidy checked out the Italian-modified van at the VAS workshop, in Matangi, near Cambridge.

With him, he said, were NZTA reviewer Bruce Adams (confirmed later by Robson’s letter to Cassidy) and LVVTA certifier Neal Miller. Days later Cassidy sent his report to the ACC’s Payne. He said that whatever ‘remedial’ work had been done on the vehicle in Wellington, the faults he identified were still present. His was the only signature on the letter.

In December, 2012, the NZTA’s sidekick the LVVTA issued a recall on its website – www.ivvta.org.nz – for the long-wheelbase vans to repair “fracturing to trailing arms” in the rear suspension. The recall mentioned “incorrect suspension geometry and poor workmanship involved in the modification process.” The LVVTA said Braiden International would do the repairs. The repairs weren’t completed until late 2013, early 2014, said Braiden’s Rochelle Williams.

The “fracturing” the LVVTA said needed fixing was exactly what Cassidy had said would happen back in 2008. He identified “incorrect suspension geometry” and “poor workmanship” back then too. Cassidy is one of the NZTA’s most reputable professional engineers. Why wasn’t his 2008 warning to the NZTA and ACC acted on? Why wasn’t it passed to the LVVTA, which is indirectly responsible for certifying wheelchair-access vehicles.

NZTA CERTIFIER’S TIME FRAME WAS ‘VERY LIMITED’ …

LVVTA chief Tony Johnson said he never received a copy of Cassidy’s 2008 letter. “Had we been made aware of the issues identified by Mr Cassidy we certainly would have become involved earlier,” he said.

Johnson said the LVVTA didn’t certify the vehicles. “Nor do we certify any vehicles. Modified vehicles are inspected and approved by independent LVV certifiers who are appointed by the NZTA. LVVTA’s role is to provide technical support and training to the LVV certifiers.”

He said he understood the certifier’s time frame to inspect the vehicles was “very limited.” “I also believe he would have based some of his decisions that the vehicles were sound after reviewing the vehicles’ European type-approval certification, which was presented to the ACC team at the time of inspection,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he agreed that there were problems with the vehicles’ design and construction. “But in balance they would have been very difficult for (the certifier) to identify in isolation. It’s easier to identify problems with the luxury of several heads, and several hours, particularly when someone is bringing problems to your attention.”

But engineer Cassidy identified on his own, in a few minutes, in a Tauranga driveway, in the dark, with a torch, that the modified vehicles for which the ACC had paid $8.34 million didn’t stack up.

Weeks later, with the NZTA’s Adams and LVV certifier Miller in tow, Cassidy inspected an identical example, this time for three or four hours, in a garage workshop, on and off a hoist. Days later, the NZTA rejected Cassidy’s report that the vehicles were badly flawed. Since then the NZ taxpayer has had to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix what the NZTA said in 2008 wasn’t a problem.

MY COMMENT ON THIS
All modified vehicles entering the NZ Fleet need to be LVV Certified, according to the Vehicle Standards Compliance Rule 2002, Clause 6.5(1)(c)

Clause 3.2 Action following failure to comply with conditions of appointment or with this rule
3.2(1) If the Director has reason to believe that a vehicle inspector or inspecting organisation has failed to comply with any of the conditions of their appointment, or has failed to comply with this rule, the Director may require the inspector or organisation to undergo such an investigation and to provide such information as the Director reasonably considers appropriate.

3.2(2) Subject to 3.2(3), if, following an investigation under 3.2(1), the Director is satisfied that a vehicle inspector or inspecting organisation has failed to comply with any of the conditions of their appointment, or failed to comply with this rule, the Director may do one or more of the following:

(a) require that remedial action, such as training, be undertaken by the inspector or organisation;
(b) suspend the whole or any part of the appointment of the inspector or organisation for a specified period or until specified conditions are met;
(c) revoke the whole or any part of the appointment of the inspector or organisation.

THE LOW VOLUME VEHICLE SYSTEM HAS LOST THE ABILITY TO CARRY OUT HIGHER LEVEL CERTIFICATIONS SUCH AS THESE, BECAUSE

A ….. LVV STANDARDS COVER ONLY VERY BASIC MODIFICATIONS.
B ….. THE SKILLED AND QUALIFIED CERTIFIERS HAVE LEFT THE SYSTEM, REPLACED BY ‘HOBBYIST’ CERTIFIERS.

The LVV system is reverting to just a low-level ‘hobby car’ certification system.

We intend to make an official Information Request to NZTA as to how these vehicles were permitted to enter the NZ Fleet, what Technical Evaluation was carried out, and what remedial action the Director will be taking.

LVV Certification Satisfaction Survey

Survey now closed, results to be provided to NZTA

HAS THE LOW VOLUME VEHICLE SYSTEM FAILED?

The Low Volume Vehicle System has failed in the following:-

The LVVTA have failed to develop and maintain LVV Standards- SEE- ORS Submission2
The LVVTA are failing to maintain an acceptable standard of safety of vehicles modified. LVVTA DANGERS- THE FACTS
I understand that another Coroners report is pending, concerning a fatality resulting from the failure of an LVV Certified trike.

Illustration by Nick Reedy

Illustration of a “HOBBY CAR” by Nick Reedy of Greymouth

QUESTIONABLE OPERATION OF THE LVVTA

Here are two examples of the sort of questions that do need to be asked and answered before a way forward for the LVV System can be found:

QUESTION 1 How can the NZ Transport agency justify allowing the LVVTA to make Certification judgements?
The LVVTA have a contract for ‘Desktop Auditing’ to ensure LVV Certifiers are meeting the LVV Standards, however the LVVTA appear to be making Certification decisions under this guise.
We can see no provision in any legislation authorizing NZTA to allow this.

QUESTION 2 On what basis does the LVVTA assume that their knowledge is superior to that of the LVV Certifiers? None of the LVVTA Staff are LVV Certifiers, and do not even meet the requirements for many categories. Yet experienced LVV Certifiers have their judgement questioned, are required to accept the judgement of the LVVTA, and are reported to NZTA for ‘incorrect’ decisions. Several recent incidents have proven that the judgement of the LVVTA can be seriously wrong.

CONSEQUENCES
The LVV system is failing to retain the skilled Certifiers
on which integrity and safety of the system depends- such as-

( Names removed by request )

LVVTA are now slanderering these ex-Certifiers, calling them ‘Rogue Certifiers’ and ‘safety risks’ instead of recognizing them as outstanding, highly regarded Certifiers whose experience is a major loss to the system.

THE LOW VOLUME VEHICLE SYSTEM HAS LOST THE ABILITY TO CARRY OUT HIGHER LEVEL CERTIFICATIONS, BECAUSE

A ….. LVV STANDARDS COVER ONLY VERY BASIC MODIFICATIONS.
B ….. THE SKILLED AND QUALIFIED CERTIFIERS HAVE LEFT THE SYSTEM, REPLACED BY ‘HOBBYIST’ CERTIFIERS.

The LVV system is reverting to just a low-level ‘hobby car’ certification system.

Emergency appointments of Certifiers from a ‘Hot-Rod’ background lacks credibility, because:-
1…..’hot rod’ experience in no way qualifies a LVV Certifier to deal with the range and complexities of modern automotive engineering.
2…..a Certifier who is beholden to the LVVTA lacks the independence required by the deed of appointment.

The LVV system is failing to meet the needs of vehicle modifiers– the number of Certifications is falling whilst the number of vehicles and the number of mods needing LVV Certification are rising-

1…….Abandoned Certifications We receive continuous enquiries for LVV Certification, from all over New Zealand.
We give out the phone numbers of other Certifiers, we even contact them ourselves on behalf of customers.
In the end, we are left with sheaves of job-sheets, for vehicles which WILL NEVER BE LVV CERTIFIED

2……Modified cars exported- We are aware of many modified and scratch-built vehicles EXPORTED to avoid the LVV system in NZ

3……Modifiers leaving the business- We are aware of PROFESSIONAL MODIFIERS (many with export business) who have CLOSED THEIR BUSINESSES or moved out of NZ.

U Drive Mobility are one recent example of this- now building in France

4…..Avoidance of LVV System Motor-home builders IN NEW ZEALAND switching to Certification to ADR Second Stage system, to avoid the costs, delays, and irregularities of the New Zealand LVV system. Private modifiers are being forced to drive vehicles without LVV Certification

Uncertified vehicles

Police at the bottom of the cliff (Ambulances not visible in this shot)

5……Soaring costs-
The LVVTA levy, has increased, with more increases anticipated, as legal and insurance costs start to bite.
LVV Certifiers have increased their charges to cover time they now require to process Certifications.
In Auckland the total cost to the customer for LVV Certification has increased by an average of 25% in June 2014.

This means that to LVV Certify say, a set of wheel spacers, or adjustable platform suspension struts, will now cost the vehicle owner $550 to $650, which could exceed the cost of the modification.

If NZTA loses faith in the LVV System, (Quite likely)
it is possible that:

1 … Minor Modifications: TSD agents, or WOF agents be authorized to pass a range of minor modifications

2 … Self- Certification: Professional Modification businesses (seat installers, motor-home builders etc) be accredited to Self-Certify

3 ….Hobby cars and Hot-rods– (a very small part of the LVV picture) could be left out in the cold, are unable to be driven on the road.

Not road legal

Going to the Beach Hop?

4 …. The LVVTA and LVV Certification plates become history.

IS THIS THE FUTURE WE WANT?

How about some clear thinking about the LVV System of the future?

1 Trust the Certifiers to do the job they are appointed to do. Cut LVVTA out of the Certification process. Allow Certifiers to make their own plates, or use a Certifier appointed Plate printing contractor.

2 Introduce proper “Certifier Training”, conducted ‘on line’ and on the job, by Certifiers or Industry Professionals, (not by the LVVTA) and allow proper technical debate to occur.

3 Allow Certifiers to Certify to proven International Standards if they choose, instead of faulty LVVTA Standards.

4 Form a Certifier controlled “Standards Committee” to develop and change LVV Standards, instructing LVVTA to print and distribute.

5 Simplify Certifier Categories to say “Mechanic based Certifier” (able to do most certifications) and “Engineer Certifier” for situations where the skills of an Engineer are required. Allow “Engineer Certifiers” to consult to “Mechanic Certifiers” when required.

Low Volume Vehicle Certification- Your Queries

We have been answering queries about LVV Certification ever since this website was started.
The queries and the replies are spread around a number of posts.

So just to make things easier to find- here are some of the pages which might already have the answer you are looking for, or where you can post a new query.

Classic Nissan (and good stuff on other makes)
Aarons Holden Ute
What a Maloo!
Wheels and Spacer
Seats and Seatbelts in a Van
Aftermarket Seats and Seatbelt Buckles
Road Test Requirements for LVV Certification
Motor Homes and Motor Caravans
Motor Home Warning
Disability Adaptions
Disability Adaptions 2
Electric Rav 4 (and other electric Vehicles)
Stretch Limousines
VW Kombi Stunt Van (don’t try this at home)
Vehicle Crash performance- Don’t try this either!
Police get red Card for Pink Stickers

Some PAGES which might be relevent- (note that pages do not allow comment)
About LVV Certification
Resource Page
Suspension
Metallurgy
Vehicle Design Consultancy

Some good sites which also might be of help are:
http://www.nissansilvia.co.nz/ http://nzhondas.com/http://www.starletcentral.co.nz/http://www.toyspeed.org.nz/http://www.skylinesdownunder.com/forums/http://www.nzfordforum.com/forumhttp://forum.jzx.co.nz/http://www.mx5forum.co.nz/http://www.vask.org.nz/http://www.mmc.org.nz/forum/http://www.clubsub.org.nz/forum/

If none of the pages seem relevent to what you want-
Post your query here on this Post-
Just click on the heading “Low Volume Vehicle Certification- Your Queries” and you will see the box below for “Leave a Reply”
No need to sign in- just solve the ‘recaptcha’ puzzle which stops robot spammers.
Posts are moderated, so keep it decent, and keep on topic, or it won’t appear.

NOTE- ANYONE CAN ANSWER A QUERY!- We don’t pretend to know everything-

if you know what you are talking about, and can answer a query, jump right in!
Comments from other LVV Certifiers are MOST welcome.
If you are in business, and can help an enquirer, feel free to use the opportunity to promote what you do.

ITS NOT JUST ABOUT “THE RULES”- ITS ABOUT GETTING IT RIGHT, GETTING IT SAFE

Enjoy!

Posted by John Brett

“Fair Go” programme taken on by LVV Certifier

NEWS- NZ Patent granted- see http://thebatteryclinic.co.nz/power-jockey-start/

Fair Go have been getting it all wrong, attacking a NZ business “The Battery Clinic” which reconditions battery packs for Hybrid cars, and which had developed the revolutionary “Power Jockey” which both extends the life of the battery packs, increases the cars performance, and makes big improvements to the already amazing economy of these cars.

The one weakness of these vehicles is the economics of the battery pack. The vehicles can do huge mileages without problem, however the battery packs begin to fail at 5 to 7 years of age, and replacement battery packs are sold by Toyota for around $10,000, which pretty much demolishes the used value of a Toyota Prius.
Now we all know that car manufacturers expect to make their profits from the sale of spare parts, especially if they are the exclusive supplier.
Toyota rather amazingly suddenly started offering replacement battery packs for only $3500, to owners who had installed the Power Jockey, and were then shamed into offering the same price to all Series 1 and 2 Prius owners. Isn’t it interesting how the competitive market works!

There are always ‘know-alls’ who think they know all about cars- unfortunately Fair Go programme found a couple and interviewed them to discredit “The Battery Clinic”
As the Video above will show, the Toyota Prius (and most other hybrid cars) are a very clever piece of engineering, a little beyond the understanding of most amateurs.

I wrote the following letter for Patrick Phan of “The Battery Clinic” to dispel some of the more ridiculous claims being made.

Patrick Phan
The Battery Clinic
133 Great South Road
Otahuhu
AUCKLAND
New Zealand

Dear Patrick
Subject: Comment on Power Jockey and Hybrid Battery repair

My comment is in reply to comments made by Fair Go programme, Professor John Boys (a University academic) and Peter Leijen (Engineering Student).

First therefore I need to establish my own qualification to comment.

I am a practising Engineer, qualified with NZCE Mechanical and Electrical, and a Registered Engineering Associate. These are both practical based qualifications and require a qualifying number of years practising in the discipline.

I have 50 years Engineering Design experience, divided between Heavy Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, including design and construction of motor vehicles.

For the last 12 years I have been a Low Volume Vehicle Certifier, and agent for NZ Transport Agency, Certifying modified vehicles of all types. In that time I have Certified some 4,500 modified and scratch built vehicles, including many Electric and Hybrid vehicles.

Prior to that I was employed for 10 years as “Generation Engineer Gas Turbines”, in charge of operation and maintenance of Stratford, Whirinaki and Otahuhu Gas Turbine Power Stations.

Prior to that I was an Engineering Officer, designing High Voltage Power lines and substation equipment such as the 200 kV Huntly to Otahuhu line that runs alongside the Auckland Southern Motorway.

Before that for I was Production Process Engineer at the Ford Motor Company, responsible for developing and implementing Assembly Engineering processes for their range of vehicles in New Zealand

Prior to that I was Tooling and Equipment Engineer at Todd Motor Industries, responsible for the design and implementation of all their vehicle production facilities, including assembly tooling, welding systems, paint systems, material handling systems.

Prior to that I have designed High Voltage Power transformers, High Voltage Substation and switching equipment, worked on construction of Benmore and Aviemore dams, and the DC Link to the North Island. I have also designed and built vehicles such as Ready Mix Concrete trucks, Penstock transporters, Electric mining locomotives and many other specialized vehicles.

In summary, I have a comprehensive knowledge of Motor Vehicle Engineering, and also of High Voltage Electrical systems.

Vehicle Compliance in New Zealand

Vehicle Standards in new Zealand are mandated by the
Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Standards Compliance 2002, and subordinate rules.
Amongst these are the Low Volume Vehicle Code, and the subordinate Low Volume Vehicle Standards, which include the:

Low Volume Vehicle Standard 75-00 Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Administering all of these standards is an army of Inspectors and Specialised Certifiers who are rigorously audited on a regular basis.

There are approximately 50 Low Volume Vehicle Certifiers, who are all Engineers who have spent years designing, building and modifying vehicles

I am a LVV Certifier and hold the required category for Electric and Hybrid vehicles.

The repair and reconditioning of battery packs DOES NOT require any Certification of any type

The addition of the Power Jockey is BELOW THE MODIFICATION THRESHOLD for Low Volume Vehicle Certification, and so DOES NOT require LVV Certification

There is no need to seek unqualified amateur opinions on the subject

Regarding the claims made about the work of Mr Phan, and the Battery Clinic

1 AECS, represented as “the company which trains the top electronic technicians in the country” is a company which sells diagnostic equipment, and trains technicians to use this equipment.

AECS do not represent themselves as having any special expertise in this issue, and there is no statement attributed to anyone from that company.

2 Peter Leijen is represented as a Master of Electrical Engineering is in fact a student who will be starting his masters in engineering this year. University Engineering Students are notorious for their lack of practical engineering experience, and I have trained many of them.

His comment that

“The main issue is that he found the terminals of the power jockey were live with a potentially deadly 275 volts sitting behind the carpet in the boot of the car”

My comment:- The terminals indicated are correctly installed 12 volt cables, which are quite safe to touch, as anyone who has had to jump-start a car will know.

He also says that

The missing bolts could mean the battery pack might press against the metal frame of the back passenger seat in an accident.

My comment:- The insulated plastic case of the battery pack presses against the seat frame at all times, and presents no hazard of short-circuit, fire, or anything else.

Heavy components need to be properly restrained to withstand 20 G loadings in a frontal impact, the normal fixings will have been tested for this loading.

Mr Leijens comments that:

There is an additional concern with the safety mechanism. He says the way the system is wired when the air bags go off in the event of an accident that the power jockey will keep the wires live endangering emergency services.

My comment :- The airbag systems are a 12 volt system, and have no connection to the power circuits. In an accident, emergency services are not exposed to any additional hazards, compared to a conventional or hybrid car.

If there is an accident waiting to happen it is Mr Leijens being let loose on the world believing that his first class honours BE degree means that he knows what he doing around electrical equipment.

Fair Go makes the claim that “the HV battery can explode like a bomb.”

Mr Phan correctly comments that:- The cells in the HV battery are D cells with 1 a/hr in capacity. If it shorts there is not enough energy in the 1 D cell to do any damage. All that will happen is some gas escaping the vents with a squeak. The cells sticks are in channels in a polycarbonate case. There is no way for the cell sticks to touch each other even in a crash.

I comment that all batteries have the potential to explode- given the wrong conditions. You are more at risk from the batteries in your Cell phone, computer, camera, or hearing aid than from the batteries in a Hybrid car. If you are worried about explosive hazards in motor cars you would be better to ban such devices from being used inside vehicles. Fair Go are conspicuously silent about the potential hazards from Lead Acid batteries in cars, from fuel tanks, from LPG gas tanks, all of which present hazards if not properly managed.

Regarding the function of the Power Jockey

The principle on which the Power Jockey operates is to act as a smoothing device on the power demands to the Hybrid batteries.

It uses the energy of the small lead acid battery, converted to correct voltage, to reduce the amplitude of the peaks and troughs in the demand curve that result from events such as vehicle accelleration.

A Lead Acid starting battery is eminently suitable for this usage pattern, and the Power Jockey reduces stresses on the expensive battery packs of the Hybrid vehicle, thus prolonging their life.

The Power Jockey does not introduce any risks or hazards to the vehicle, provided that it is correctly installed in a tradesmanlike manner, and that wiring and insulation is in accordance with accepted standards. The installations that I have seen all meet these standards.

I do not have sufficient knowledge or experience with the Hybrid battery packs to be able to judge how much benefit would be provided, or what life extension would result. The best evidence would be results from vehicles with the Power Jockey installed.

Summary

Fair Go has done a beat-up on a local business, based on immoderate, wild, unsubstantiated claims from unqualified individuals who should know better than to make “ex cathedra” pronouncements on subjects which are far from their areas of expertise.

Yours sincerely

John Brett
LOW VOLUME VEHICLE ENGINEER
NZCE Mechanical
Registered Engineering Associate
LVV Certifier JB1

Suzuki Cappuccino- All power, no grip

Power without grip is nothing!

No matter how much horsepower you have at the wheel, it’s only the power you can get onto the ground that counts.

Tyres are what transmit the power to the ground, and the measure of grip is the “Coefficient of Friction” (usually called Mu).
This is the ratio of down force to Horizontal force.

A Mu value of 1 is about as good as car tyres on a good surface ever get.

This means that you could park on a 1 in 1 grade (45 degrees) without sliding.
This means that in acceleration, you could accelerate at a maximum of 1G if all your weight was on the driving wheels, (as in a dragster, motorbike, or a 4wd car)
This means that there is a practical limit to ¼ mile drag times, of about 9 seconds, no matter how much power you have.

This is worked out from the acceleration formula
T=square root of 2s/a , where T= time, s = distance(403 meters) and a= acceleration (9.81 m/s/s)

This link shows ¼ mile times of some very fast cars on very sticky tyres-
1/4 mile times

All those people who claim to have done faster times must have some MAGIC tyres, or more likely – slow watches.

There ARE ways of going faster though……….

Top Fuel Dragsters
This a whole other thing- these machines achieve 4 G accelleration with assistance from rubber on rubber grip, and aerodynamic downforce increasing grip
and-
3.58 1/4 mile
Which is just plain old rocket science!

Or- if YOU want to accellerate this fast- just go to
Tower of Terror
or
Tower of Terror Video
This uses linear magnetic motors which give you 4.5 G accelleration, MORE than a Top Fuel Dragster, but without all the noise!

Aftermarket seats – the seatbelt buckle problem

Mnay enthusiasts want to fit aftermarket seats to their cars.
A problem arises when the original seat has the seatbelt buckle mounted on the seat, so that the seatbelt load goes through the slide rails to the car.
The easiest option is to keep the original slides, and mount the new seat to them. This way the seatbelt anchorage is unchanged.

If this is not possible, and the aftermarket seat has its own base and slide rails, this is where the problem arises.
There needs to be TEST DATA to show that the aftermarket rails are strong enough for the seatbelt load- and THERE NEVER IS ANY TEST DATA

There are two ways around this:
1 Fit a new Seatbelt Anchorage to the vehicle tunnel. This is done using standard Seatbelt Anchorage doubler plates of at least 3000 sq mm area (such as 80 x 50, or 100 x 40).
2 Bracketing the seatbelt buckle to the seat anchorage, using a piece of 40mm x 3 mm flat bar, usually about 100 to 150mm long, drilled for the 7/16 seatbelt bolt at one end, and drilled to fit the seat mounting bolt (usually M10) at the other.

It is a requirement that the Seatbelt is mounted with a 7/16 or M12 bolt. There are good reasons for this, and the seatbelt hardware is all made for this size of bolt.

The seat mounting bolt is whatever the vehicle manufacturer deemed appropriate- a M10 grade 8.8 bolt can take a shear load of 48 Kn, which is more than meets the load requirement for a seat and the seatbelt buckle loading.

The Manufacturers underfloor mounting plate for the seat is designed to take this load- the picture below shows that the seatbelt load in a standard seat is transmitted just to this one bolt- proving that this is true.
So we can rely on the Original, Factory seat mounting point, and the Original seat mounting bolt to take the seatbelt loads, the load just gets there by the new bar we have added.
NOTE- Remember to put the seatbelt load bar between the seat and the tunnel or floor.

S14 Seat showing Force Diagram

The LVV Standard for seats is 185-00. The LVV Standard for Seatbelts and anchorages is 175-00

Vehicle Design Consultancy Launched!

When you have been doing something you enjoy for years- something which is in constant demand- perhaps it is time to call it a business and give it a name!
John Brett has been designing vehicles from WAAY back- starting in the Ministry of Works at Benmore, designing all manner of ambitious and way out vehicles, but under the supervision of some of the best Mechanical Engineers in the country. How about a Penstock transporter, or a Hot-rodded bren-gun carrier for the televiewers association to get to their TV translater! Continue reading Vehicle Design Consultancy Launched!

Wheel Spacers FAQ’s

Wheel Spacers are the subject we are most common asked about. Continue reading Wheel Spacers FAQ’s

What a Maloo!

We recently Certified suspension and wheels on this Holden Maloo Continue reading What a Maloo!