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 John’s authority was revoked in December 2012.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.


“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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Electronic Systems- LVV standard required?

It is no secret that a modern car is becoming a computer on wheels. Critical functions such as braking, steering, chassis dynamics are becoming- not just electronically enhanced, but electronically CONTROLLED by embedded software and electronics systems. Self-driving cars are not yet on New Zealand roads, but they do exist- and most of the enabling technology already exists to varying degrees in most modern vehicles.

Even in Motoring section

Drive-by-Wire is not some futuristic concept. Drivers today are already “driving by wire” far more than they suspect.
Pressing the brake pedal simply starts a process controlled by electronics. The brakes can be applied even without the driver pressing the pedal. Steering on some new models is fly-by wire. Traction control, chassis control all have electronic systems that over-ride the driver.
Disability drive by wire control systems exist and are used in other countries. Using such systems, a driver can control steering, acceleration, braking all from a tiny joy-stick- just like the pilot of a modern jet fighter or airliner! At present there is no process to allow such systems in New Zealand, and they are ruled out by the Low Volume Vehicle Technical Association.
Driving with a joystick

Safety is also a key area that is electronically managed- a possible approaching collision can trigger self-actuating brakes, then arm airbags and seat-belt pretensioners according to tested protocols, activate safety systems in the event of an impact, and even send out an emergency message!

There are International Standards such as ISO 26262 is a Functional Safety standard, titled “Road vehicles – Functional safety”

Modifications impinge on these Electronic Systems in many ways. Examples include seat and seat-belt modifications, disability adaptions, power train, suspension or brake modifications or changes, and structural modifications.

At present, all of this passes below the Low Volume radar- the Low Volume Vehicle Certifier may or may not identify modifications affecting electronic systems, and may or may not make a sensible decisions about whether the modification can be allowed, if so what the affects might be, and what actions should be taken to achieve a reasonably safe vehicle.
The Low Volume Vehicle Certifier may or may not not adequately understand the implications of the modifications.
The Low Volume Vehicle Certifier may or may not not document all of this for his own records, or may not document anything.

There is no guidance available, and no formal processes for a Low Volume Vehicle Certifier to follow.
The contingent liability for injuries of death could be high- It might be argued that a modification affected an electronic system to the extent of causing or contributing to an accident, or that the modification resulted in greater exposure of the vehicle occupants to Injury or death.

A formal process needs to be written as a “Low Volume Vehicle Standard” to ensure optimized vehicle safety, provide guidance to LVV Certifiers, and to protect all parties from potential legal action.
Such a Standard should follow steps such as : 1 Identify, 2 Quantify, 3 Justify, 4 Certify.

Now check out what a hacker can do:

Government probe into LVVTA and LVV system

1 Low volume vehicle review welcomed

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

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:

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





Roger-Phillips, UDM

Roger-Phillips, UDM



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


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.

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 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.


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
Vehicle Design Consultancy

Some good sites which also might be of help are:

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.



Posted by John Brett

“Fair Go” programme taken on by LVV Certifier

NEWS- NZ Patent granted- see

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
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.


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
NZCE Mechanical
Registered Engineering Associate
LVV Certifier JB1

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


The NZ Police have been found out making up their own rules- and have had to cancel a number of Pink and Green Stickers, and related offence notices. Continue reading NZ Police get a RED CARD for RED STICKERS

Electric Rav 4

We have Certified a number of Electric Vehicles. Continue reading Electric Rav 4