Transitioning to the second-version smart tachograph

How companies can handle regulations and deadlines ahead

Hardly any other topic has kept logistics and freight companies busier in the past couple of years than the Mobility Package. Aiming to provide better working conditions, equal competition and more safety on Europe’s roads, a whole range of regulations have been implemented since 2020, from changes to rest periods to providing proof of cabotage trips and the posting of driving personnel. 2023 will ring in the last stage of implementing the new rules stipulated by the Mobility Package: the introduction of the second-version smart tachograph to control and enforce these regulations.

Three retrofitting waves for smart tachographs until 2026

Lots of companies want to know whether there are any additional changes or updates in tachograph regulations on the horizon. At least until 2026, we do not anticipate any such additional burdens for fleet managers. On the contrary, once fleets have completed retrofitting their vehicles with second version smart tachographs, it will help fleet managers in their compliance tasks enabling them to turn their attention to other pressing issues in their operational business. But what class of vehicles will be affected at what point of time in the coming years?

  • August 21, 2023: Newly registered commercial vehicles with a maximum permissible weight of more than 3.5 metric tons and busses adapted for carrying more than nine persons including driver must be equipped with the second-version smart tachograph.
  • December 31, 2024: All trucks over 3.5 metric tons and busses adapted for carrying more than nine persons including driver, used in cross-border transport must be upgraded to the second version of the smart tachograph, if they previously had an analog or a 1st generation digital tachograph (if you have a VDO tachograph that would translate to DTCO 3.0 or lower) on board.
  • August 20, 2025: Vehicles in cross-border transportation that already use the first-version smart tachograph will need to be retrofitted in the third wave prior to this date.
  • July 1, 2026: Furthermore, the Mobility Package has stipulated that a new category of vehicles will be included in mandatory tachograph use: Smaller commercial vehicles over 2.5 metric tons of maximum permissible weight in cross-border use also need to be equipped with the smart tachograph (V2).
smart tachograph

These retrofit waves obviously lead to an increased demand of tachograph hardware over the coming years. We have prepared ourselves early for this situation. In our plant in Villingen-Schwenningen in German Black Forest we modernized and expanded our tachograph production lines even before we started production of the predecessor model, the DTCO 4.0. We are currently working in additional shifts and are also deploying qualified personnel from other locations to meet the high demand.

The right strategy for efficient transition: Do it early!

Another question we hear a lot: When is the right time to start retrofitting a fleet’s vehicle? Our advice is to do it as early as possible. On the one hand, the second-version smart tachograph has not just been designed to control and enforce the new regulations, but also to support fleet managers in their compliance duties and make this necessary task easier, e.g., with automated recognition and storage of the respective border-crossings. On the other hand, if many fleets delayed the retrofit for too long, they might actually miss their vehicles’ deadlines due to the rush that is to be expected ahead of a deadline.

To avoid this, we recommend that vehicles should be retrofitted while a truck visits a workshop, e.g., for the mandatory tachograph inspection that must be conducted every two years, anyway. This way, normal fleet operations are not disrupted by an additional workshop stint and fleets can benefit from the new and enhanced functions of the new tachograph early.

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