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      "There is no way around retrofitting to the second version of the smart tachograph"

      The second version of the new smart tachograph has been on the market since August 2023 – and the rumor mill in European transport logistics has been buzzing ever since. Although a large part of the existing fleet will have to retrofit the new devices by the end of the year, fleet operators are still very reluctant to do so. In this interview, Continental’s experts Matthias Kliché, Head of Legal Requirements, and Michael Gut, Program Manager Tachograph Workshop Services, explain where the rumors originated – and what is really a fact.

      There is currently speculation in the industry about a possible postponement of the deadline for retrofitting the new version of the smart tachograph. Is there any truth to the rumors?

      Michael Gut: No, these are really just rumors. Unfortunately, this has apparently not yet reached fleets everywhere.

      Matthias Kliché: The rumor that existing vehicles which are still equipped with an analog or digital tachograph of the first version and are used in cross-border traffic do not have to retrofit to the new tachograph by December 31, 2024, is simply false. It has its origins in various national exemptions and transitional regulations the national legislators have stipulated in the event that there may not be enough tachographs available in time.

      Michael Gut: But that is not true. The manufacturers, and especially we at Continental, are able to deliver and can supply the workshop network with sufficient devices for retrofitting.

      And what about the many national exemptions?

      Matthias Kliché: In a communication to the member states and European transport associations in early March, the EU Commission reaffirmed that the retrofitting obligation stipulated in the EU Mobility Package I will not be postponed. Therefore, the legal situation is clear. There is no way around retrofitting to the second version of the smart tachograph.

      If the legal situation is so clear, where do such rumors stem from?

      Michael Gut: This certainly has something to do with the supply chain problems on the chip and semiconductor market caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the supply situation for new tachographs was still tense last year.

      Matthias Kliché: Adding to the confusion is the fact that the current version of the smart tachograph could not actively implement all its intended functions at the time of its market launch. Full support for the secure Galileo signal OSNMA (Open Service for Navigation Message Authentication), which can be used to authenticate border crossings, for example, is still missing. Until that happens, the DTCO 4.1 is considered a "transitional tachograph".

      So should fleets wait for the next tachograph versions?

      Michael Gut: No. The current version of DTCO 4.1 is fully functional and complies with the regulations. When the authenticated OSNMA signal is available, we will offer an update, which will then be installed during the next regular tachograph inspection.

      Matthias Kliché: Waiting for a possible DTCO 4.1a or b would be more than risky since the law does not have any goodwill here. Anyone who does not comply with the obligation to install the new tachograph on time has to face a fine of 1,500 euros in Germany, for example, if a truck with an outdated tachograph is found during road inspection.

      How many vehicles have already been retrofitted?

      Michael Gut: According to our estimates, only around seven percent of commercial vehicles for which the deadline of the end of 2024 applies have been retrofitted with the second version of the smart tachograph.

      What advice would you give fleets for the practical implementation?

      Matthias Kliché: Fleets need to deal with these issues now, otherwise they run the risk of not meeting the deadlines and regulations. This starts with being aware of the deadlines applying to each vehicle.

      Michael Gut: On our central information portal myVDO, the DTCO Retrofit Check provides clarity about the deadlines that apply to a fleet in just a few clicks 

      Matthias Kliché: If it is clear that a vehicles must have the second version of the smart tachograph on board by the end of the year, fleet managers should arrange a retrofit appointment with their workshop quickly since workshop capacities will become increasingly scarce towards the end of the year. Retrofitting is particularly efficient – and the EU Commission also recommends this – if it is combined with the mandatory tachograph inspection according to §57b StVZO, which is planned anyway. This saves an additional visit to the workshop and avoids expensive downtime.