Critical Raw Materials Act: LEVA-EU warns Commission for impact on LEV-sector

360 days ago

4 minutes

LEVA-EU has responded to a Commission request for feedback on their proposal for a Critical Raw Materials Act. In that feedback, LEVA-EU exposes some thorny issues that could become problematic for LEV-companies, especially relating to permanent magnets.

The Critical Raw Materials Act is aimed at boosting EU supply and improving recycling of critical raw materials among which permanent magnets. These can be found in motors for Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs), which is why the future legislation is of concern to most LEVA-EU members. Some are producing electric motors for LEVs. Others produce or import LEVs containing electric motors with magnets.

First, on a more general note, LEVA-EU requests the Commission to acknowledge that LEV-companies, especially SMEs and start-ups, are gradually reaching a point at which the legal framework in which they are expected to operate is no longer feasible. Sustainability and circular economy measures should not be such as to push companies, that are already largely contributing to sustainable mobility, out of the market.

Today in Europe there is a largely insufficient supply of components for LEV’s, especially motors and batteries. Many LEV- companies have no choice but to source outside the EU. According to the proposal the natural or legal person that places light means of transport on the market is responsible for all recyclability requirements. LEVA-EU believes that this may well create a discrimination between companies using EU produced motors and those using non-EU produced motors.

Furthermore, LEVA-EU believes that reducing the demand for the critical materials should be the first choice, not optimising the extraction of these materials. In this framework, the trade association deeply regrets that the Critical Raw Materials Act does not pay any attention to reducing the carbon footprint of vehicles and their components, through reducing the demand for the materials concerned.

LEVA-EU manager Annick Roetynck explains: “We want the Commission to request for a study on the potential savings on critical raw materials by downsizing and reducing the weight of road vehicles. The average hybrid or electric vehicles use between 2 and 5 kg of rare earth magnets. Therefore, the substitution of ICE-cars by electric cars will unleash an unparalleled demand. The aggregate weight of magnets in LEVs will no doubt be many times less. Therefore, the substitution of cars by LEVs will make an unparalleled contribution to a sustainable demand and supply of these magnets.”

LEVA-EU also points to several articles in the proposed Regulation that will create very specific problems for the LEV-sector.

The definition of “light means of transport” does not adequately describe all categories of vehicles and will result in unclear legislation. Other articles allow for 5 years’ time before conformity assessment procedures take effect for one group of LEVs and only 3 years for another. LEVA-EU warns that if the different timings are upheld, this is likely to create a competitive advantage for some LEVs and a disadvantage for others. The Commission also proposes to exempt vehicles with less than 0.2 kg of permanent magnets from the future act. This too may create a discrimination, for instance between conventional electric cycles with one motor remaining just under 0.2kg, whilst Series Hybrid electric cycles may just be above that limit. This may well infringe the principle of technology neutrality. LEVA-EU has proposed amendments to eliminate potentially discriminatory rules. However, LEVA-EU also asks for further research to determine the relevance of this minimum weight in view of the objective to produce at least 15% of the Union’s annual consumption through recycling.

In the meantime, LEVA-EU continues to consult with its members on the forthcoming legislation.

The proposed Critical Raw Materials Act is here: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52023PC0160
LEVA-EU’s feedback is here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/prldpkk3say2wxj/LEVA-EU%20Position%20Critical%20Raw%20Materials%20Act.pdf?dl=0

Annick Roetynck

Annick is the Manager of LEVA-EU, with decades of experience in two-wheeled and light electric mobility.

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