And it revolves around this - the locker or "garage" that is sometimes provided within the body of a motorhome that is capable of carrying "goods". The provision of such a garage in a motorhome could have serious implications in relation to how it is tested for being roadworthy as I will try and explain now.
Yesterday, I submitted our Rapido motorhome for a weighbridge certificate in it's fully loaded touring trim. It revealed that it's total gross weight as we intend to use it was 3340 kg, with a front axle weight of 1640 kg and a rear axle weight of 1660 kg. The plated weight limits are 3500 kg gross, front axle 1850 kg, and rear axle 2120 kg, so we are well within limits. This now opens up the possibility of placing an 85 kg 50cc motor scooter in the rear "garage". However, there is one last thing to consider.
Motorhomes are registered in the UK with DVLA with the body type "Motor Caravan". In the past VOSA (Vehicle and Operator's Services Agency), now called Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency from April 2014, applied the term quite loosely, but in recent years have become more strict in applying the regulations. There are two different vehicle definitions that apply here, and first we need to look at those.
A motor caravan is a motor vehicle, not being a living van, which is constructed or adapted for the carriage of passengers and their effects and which contains, as permanently installed equipment , the facilities which are reasonably necessary to enable the vehicle to provide mobile living accommodation for its users. Motor caravans are not classed as goods vehicles for MOT test purposes and are therefore in the class IV or V depending on their seating capacity but regardless of their size or weight.
A living van is a vehicle, whether mechanically propelled or not, which is used as living accommodation by one or more persons and which is also used for the carriage of goods or burden which are not needed by one or more such persons for the purposes of their residence within the vehicle. Living vans are classed as goods vehicles, and depending on their weight, are either class IV or VII within the MOT test scheme or are subject to HGV plating and testing.
This is all becoming a little legalese, but in plain terms what does it mean for the likes of me?
For vehicles with a gross vehicle weight between 3000 kg and 3500 kg.
Goods are not restricted to items carried for "hire or reward", and in this context are items that are "not needed by persons for the purpose of their residence within the vehicle", but could, and does throw open the possibility that cycles and mopeds could be classed as goods here.
It is up to the owner of the vehicle to declare at the time of testing what purpose the vehicle is to be used for. A class IV test could be conducted in these circumstances, even with the garage, but if carriage of goods intent is declared, then a class VII test will be conducted. If subsequent Police roadside checks reveal that the vehicle is being used for carriage of goods, and the correct test certificate is not in place, then a prosecution could follow.
Vehicles in these classes are the subject of testing after the first 3 years of use, and then annually thereafter.
For vehicles weighing over 3500 kg gross maximum vehicle weight.
Vehicles that are classed as "living vans" as above, and are over 3500 kg gross vehicle weight become the subject of the Goods Vehicle (Plating and testing) Regulations 1988, and as such are required to be tested after their 1st year of use, and then annually thereafter. The testing process for this class of vehicle is also more complicated.
See Vehicle Classes for MOT for information on classes of vehicle in relation to the MOT testing scheme.
A quick check of my own motorhome's MOT test history reveals that it has been tested as a standard class IV motor caravan in its past. However, the dealer who sold it to me submitted it for testing as a class VII living van, as it is capable of carrying a moped within it's "garage". Consequently, I am now fully legally entitled to carry a scooter for transportation once at our destination if I choose to do so.