LEVA-EU, the light electrical vehicle trade association, has proposed a new concept of “Zero Tailpipe Emission Vehicles” (ZEVs) as a way of excluding more electric vehicles from being shoehorned into EU Regulation 168/2013, the type approval rules for which are hampering market growth for certain sectors of the electric bike market.
These current regulations class all light electric vehicles, except electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25km/h or 15.5mph and 250W (EAPCs), in the same category as mopeds and motorbikes. As a result, regulation 168/2013 leaves manufacturers forced to navigate complicated and costly type approval procedures for electric bikes falling outside of the EAPC classification, such as speed pedelecs.
The organisation says bringing in the concept of Zero Tailpipe Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) would finally set them apart from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles such as petrol motorbikes and mopeds when it comes to the lengthy legislation that can be difficult for manufacturers to navigate.
LEVA-EU proposes to define ZEVs as “powered vehicles equipped with a motor that does not produce harmful tailpipe emissions” with a proposal to classify ZEVS by kinetic energy or the energy of mass in motion; the association says all low-speed ZEVs up to a certain weight and speed limit could be excluded from Regulation 168/2013, with exclusion limits to be discussed with the LEV- industry.
The association clarifies:
“Exclusion from Regulation 168/2013 means that the vehicles automatically come under the Machinery Directive, which in turn, allows the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to develop technical standards. Instead of type-approval, manufacturers can comply with this legislation by means of self-certification or certification by a freely chosen testing service. For type-approval, they must seek certification from an officially accredited testing service. LEVA-EU points out that there are already several standards, both published and under development, that could accommodate many of the to be excluded ZEVs. E-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h -250W have benefited from exclusion since 2002, which has seen millions of them take to the streets without any structural safety problems. For ZEVs above the set speed and weight limit, discussions would be needed as to whether a specific type approval should be drawn up or whether they should also be excluded, bringing them under the Machinery Directive.”
Annick Roetynck, manager of LEVA-EU, sums up: “Type approval for L-category vehicles currently consists of 1,036 pages, many of which are dedicated to emissions and noise, two elements that are irrelevant for ZEVs. It is therefore extremely complicated and costly for ZEV manufacturers to submit their vehicles for type-approval. The result is that there are hardly any L-category light electric vehicles on the market.
“The rules have not been written with light, electric vehicles in mind; they have been written for conventional mopeds and motorcycles. To allow for a broader offer of light, electric vehicles, the rules need urgent updating to remove the legal bottlenecks.”
The European Commission has recently tasked TRL, a UK-based mobility research organization, with conducting a study into all light electric vehicles – including scooters, e-bikes and e-cargo – in terms of where each fits into the type approval framework and national traffic codes.