Glider Kits: Fish or Fowl?

ST. THOMAS, ON. — More fleets are holding on to older trucks longer and more shops are turning to glider kits as a means of refreshing the fleet.

So the question arises, says Don Moore the Executive Director of the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA): “What exactly is a glider kit and is the end result a new or used truck? And who’s liable in the event of problems?”

Here is Moore’s point-form answer:

 A glider kit is an assemblage of parts, less the power train or some portions thereof. Note that I have not used the term “vehicle” or “truck.” According to Transport Canada, “vehicle” means any vehicle that is capable of being driven or drawn on roads by any means other than muscular power. “Truck” means a vehicle designed primarily for the transportation of property or special-purpose equipment.

Only once the drive train and body or equipment is installed, does it become a “vehicle.” Then the questions become:

“Does this resulting vehicle need to be certified to the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards CMVSS?”, and if so;

“Who is responsible for certifying the compliance of the vehicle?”

To answer the first part of this question, we have to know if this vehicle is being represented as new or used. In the U.S.A., there actually is a definition under 49CFR 571.7(e):

When a new cab is used in the assembly of a truck, the truck will be considered newly manufactured […] unless the engine, transmission, and drive axle(s) (as a minimum) of the assembled vehicle are not new, and at least two of these components were taken from the same vehicle.

If the glider kit is being used to repair an otherwise wrecked truck; for instance a roll-over where the cab, hood and frame have been damaged but the drive-train is either okay or repairable, then the vehicle should keep the VIN and compliance labels of the original vehicle. The vehicle would maintain its original registration and licensing from the province, though it may be flagged as a rebuilt or repaired. (This is how I’ve understood the use of glider kits over the course of my 30 years in the industry.)

If the glider is being used to build a new vehicle, the situation is more complex and, since we aren’t discussing the U.S. rules here, it is dependent on what documentation is available with the glider.

Is there a Canadian compliance label on the driver’s door jamb area?

Is there an Incomplete Vehicle Document (IVD) with the vehicle?

My understanding is that the answer to both these questions is “no” at least until otherwise informed.

The company assembling the vehicle becomes the OEM and must be able to certify the vehicle from scratch, and provide test and/or compliance documentation for all of CMVSS 101 through 1106 applicable for a truck per Schedule III of the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.

This includes dynamic brake tests, seat and seatbelt anchorage tests, throttle return timing, glazing markings, flammability testing, noise testing, etcetera, etcetera.

There is also a heavy liability burden placed on the intermediate or final-stage manufacturer who takes on such a glider build.

These manufacturers would be assuming the full responsibility of the vehicle.

As long as there is an OEM emblem on the front of the hood and the OE has the “deep pockets”, they will likely get pulled into the fray, but the labeling and documentation would imply the acceptance of responsibility by the subsequent manufacturer(s).

In addition to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and safety liability issues, there are some serious emissions concerns per the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which is enforced by Environment Canada. The rules that pertain to Section 153(1)(a) of the Act are as follows:

153. (1) No company shall apply a national emissions mark to any vehicle, engine or equipment, sell any vehicle, engine or equipment to which a national emissions mark has been applied or import any vehicle, engine or equipment unless

(a) the vehicle, engine or equipment conforms to the standards prescribed for vehicles, engines or equipment of its class at the time its main assembly or manufacture was completed;

In the Regulations, Section 15, the following is stated:

Heavy-duty Vehicles

15. (1) Subject to subsection (2) and section 19, a diesel heavy-duty vehicle of a specific model year, other than a medium-duty passenger vehicle, shall

(a) be equipped with a heavy-duty engine that meets the requirements of these Regulations; and
(b) conform to the evaporative emission standards applicable to diesel heavy-duty vehicles of that model year set out in section 11, subpart A, of the CFR.

Thus, the emissions from a given model year vehicle must be met, so the engine must meet those requirements, i.e. a 2012 model year vehicle must be able to meet 2012 emission requirements for the given class of vehicles and/or engines.

So, in summary, a glider kit is an “assemblage of parts” useful for repairing a wrecked truck, period.


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