Tag Archive: L-category

  1. Light Electric Vehicle trade association LEVA-EU urges European Commission to match green transport rhetoric with action on LEVs

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    LEVA-EU, the sole trade association for the light electric vehicle sector, says the European Commission cannot continue to ignore a key barrier to growth for the LEV market following its decision to carry out yet another study into LEVs.

    LEVA-EU wrote to the European Commissiion calling for urgent legislative change for LEVs, centring on the technical legislation for L-category vehicles – mopeds and motorcycles.  At the request of the Commission, the European Council and Parliament decided in 2013 to only exclude electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250 W from this L-category. So, all other electric bicycles are included in technical legislation, which was originally written for internal combustion engine mopeds and motorcycles. This leaves manufacturers forced to navigate complicated, costly and inaccurate procedures. Moreover LEVA-EU said classing LEVs in the same category as mopeds presents considerable safety issues for riders.

    In a reply to LEVA-EU, Joanna Szychowska, head of the Automotive and Mobility Industries Unit at the Commission’s DG Grow, said the EC would shortly launch a study on the safety of personal mobility devices that would also look at the relevance of requirements for certain vehicle categories of the legislation in question, Regulation (EU) No 168/2013.

    But LEVA-EU manager Annick Roetynck said the organisation found the response ‘deeply frustrating’ saying it was ‘more procrastination’ and ‘more costly delays’ for the highly innovative LEV sector which is desperate to break free from the ill-fitting regulation.

    In the letter, Ms Szychowska said the EC was working to provide effective measures to facilitate the ramping up of production after the end of the COVID-19 confinement phase, while at the same time looking for ways to promote cleaner ways of transport.( see notes to editors)

    Earlier in June, the EC’s executive vice-president, Frans Timmermans, spoke at a major press conference on green transport and addressed the EU’s pledge of 20 billion euros for sustainable infrastructure transport projects, including electric mobility and bike lane schemes, saying: “When it comes to public investment to relaunch the transport sector more sustainable mobility will be key… funds can support the financing of one million electric vehicle charging points, clean fleet renewals, sustainable transport infrastructure especially looking at modalities of rail and electric mobility and bike lanes in cities.

    But Ms Roetynck said rhetoric is not being matched with action. “The current 250W limit handcuffs the e-cargo-bike-industry so that it cannot meet the current demand from consumers,” she said. “The inaccurate type approval is creating a huge legal bottleneck for ebikes, nipping development in the bud before it has had time to flourish. By not changing LEV legislation, the EU Commission is doing harm to its own climate ambitions and we need change now. Moreover, as a result of these rules, riders are often forced to ride in dangerous conditions because the speed difference between them and other means of transport is often life-threatening.

    Ms Roetynck said LEVA-EU had written to Mr Timmermans and the three EU Commission presidents. The group had already received a response from the cabinet of President Charles Michel stating: “On 23 April, President Charles Michel together with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen presented to the Heads of State and Government the Roadmap for recovery. It was agreed that the green transition will play a central and priority role in relaunching and modernising the EU economy. Further action to decarbonise the transport sector, which should also improve air quality, is necessary to succeed in the green transition. The Council of the European Union will thoroughly examine any proposal in this regard brought forward by the European Commission.

    But Ms Roetynck said the response was ‘warm words’ but left the problem of reforming Regulation 168/2013 still firmly at the door of the European Commission.

    Ms Roetynck  also pointed to a recent study in Belgium called project 365SNEL  which examined the benefits of commuting by speed pedelec. The study found that workers highlighted punctuality and improved mental health as their main motivations for choosing a light electric vehicle over a car.  The research followed 106 employees from ten companies commuting on a speed pedelec for three weeks and involved people who had never ridden a speed pedelec before, and who lived between 15km and 35km from their workplace.

    The predictability of journey time was an important factor for many, as traffic considerations did not need to be made. Many enjoyed the exercise element, which meant they arrived at work with a clear head, said the study. The main hurdle for many consumers was the price.

    This study again shows the key role speed pedelecs can make to the future of commuting,” she said. “But it is critical we encourage the growth of the sector and remove barriers quickly as solutions to the future of green transport are needed urgently now as cities across Europe and the world are scrambling to find safe and sustainable forms of transport and commuting. It is worrying that the study found consumers are being put off by price as price is a direct result of extremely complicated, inaccurate European technical rules.

    LEVA-EU acts on behalf of around 50 members across Europe and estimates about three million E-bikes alone were sold in the European Union during 2019. About 98 per cent of these were E-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, which shows the extent the technical legislation for L-category obstructs the development of new types of E-bikes.

     

  2. LEVA-EU sends open letter to EU Commission, Council & EP Presidents

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    Gent, 12 May 2020

    Open Letter to:
    – the President of the European Commission, Mrs von der Leyen
    – the President of the European Council, Mr Michel
    – the President of the European Parliament, Mr Sassoli

    Dear Mrs von der Leyen, Mr Michel and Mr Sassoli,

    LEVA-EU is the European trade association for businesses in the light electric vehicle (LEV)-sector. The term  LEV covers all electric vehicles in and excluded from the L-category, i.e. e-scooters, e-bikes, speed pedelecs, electric mopeds and motorcycles, etc..

    LEVA-EU herewith officially requests the Presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament to eliminate legal bottlenecks and to put LEVs at the heart of Green Deal, with a view to encouraging sustainable mobility as we are coming out of the Corona crisis.

    Almost 300,000 lives have been lost to COVID-19. We all agree that each one of those deaths is one too many. And yet, every year, we allow for 4.2 million people to die from air pollution. There appears to be a worldwide consensus that this is a price worth paying to preserve our economies and living standards. It took COVID-19 to show how life can be without that pollution: not only cleaner and healthier (in a way) but also quieter, more safe, greener, brighter, … The share of transport in that turnaround can hardly be underestimated.

    At all levels, policymakers are now faced with the choice between going back to “business as usual” or a fundamental change. It is once again the cities that are the pioneers in encouraging their citizens and businesses to make that fundamental change. A growing peloton of European cities decides to safeguard and sometimes even further expand the freed up space to allow pedestrians, cyclists and users of light, electric vehicles (LEVs) such as e-bikes, electric cargo bikes, e-scooters, etc. to keep a safe distance.

    When we now read the Green Deal, published before the Corona-crisis, the chapter on transport sounds very much overtaken by reality. Why should we wait until 2030 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% and until 2050 to achieve climate neutrality? In October 2019, the European Environment Agency (EEA) stated: “Cutting air pollution in Europe would prevent early deaths, improve productivity and curb climate change.” How can a decision to wait until 2050, thus killing millions more, be justified, especially since the Corona crisis has shown that we are able to cut air pollution.

    That is why LEVA-EU calls upon the European Commission, Parliament and Council to support the European cities and their citizens by taking two simple, concrete measures.

    First, before the Corona crisis, the EEA already stated: “Shifting to walking, cycling and public transport is crucial for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal.” The Corona crisis has shown that the willingness to travel in a sustainable way is far beyond political expectations. In the European Green Deal, the Commission expresses “its intention to tackle all transport emission sources and explains that achieving sustainable transport means providing users with more affordable, accessible, healthier and cleaner alternatives to their current mobility habits.

    Despite this statement, the Commission has not put forward shifting to walking, cycling, LEVs and public transport as a key element of the Green Deal. LEVA-EU calls upon the Commission and all European institutions to stop ignoring the invaluable EEA advice. We urge the Commission to include that shift as a key element in both the Green Deal Communication and in the announced strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

    Second, the Commission has announced adaptations of existing legislation, i.e. the AFID and the TEN-T Regulation. We urge the Commission to add the revision of Regulation 168/2013 to this programme. A fast and fundamental revision of this Regulation on the type-approval for L-category vehicles is crucial to remove the many legal bottlenecks, which are currently severely obstructing the deployment of LEVs.

    Last February, at a symposium organized by LEVA-EU and the Belgian project 365SNEL, LEV-manufacturers presented the Commission with a large variety of legal and regulatory problems preventing them from fully exploiting the potential of LEVs. The 365SNEL project, funded by the Flemish Environmental Department, showed that after extensive test riding, 20% of the participants swapped their car for a speed pedelec for commuting.

    At the request of the Commission, the European Council and Parliament decided in 2013 to only exclude electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250 W from the L-category. So, most other light electric vehicles are included in technical legislation, which has originally been written for internal combustion engine mopeds and motorcycles.

    The legislation has 1,036 pages of text, to a large extent dedicated to emissions, noise and other technical aspects which are totally irrelevant for light electric vehicles. Manufacturers must figure out which of these 1,036 pages are applicable to, for instance, their speed pedelecs or their E-cargo bikes with more than 250W. And if they manage that all, they then have to go through a totally inaccurate type-approval procedure, which costs at least four times more than what the Commission predicted in their impact assessment before drafting Regulation 168/2013.

    The 365SNEL research has shown that the biggest obstacle to getting more people to consider LEVs is still high prices, yet this price is a direct result of extremely complicated, inaccurate European technical rules.

    Regulation 168/2013 is a significant barrier to European SMEs and choking growth at a key time when the popularity and profile of LEVs as a sustainable form of transport, especially in these COVID-19 times, is set to soar. Europe must not hold back innovation and growth in this sector.

    Categorizing LEVs as mopeds also presents considerable safety issues for riders. Most speed pedelecs for instance are unable to achieve their maximum speed limit of 45 km/h, but rather achieve a maximum cruising speed of 30-35 km/h. Yet, classing them as mopeds forces them off cycle lanes and onto roads among traffic achieving speeds of at least 50km/h. As a result, riders are forced to ride in dangerous conditions, because the speed difference between them and other means of transport is often life-threatening. This is yet another reason for a fundamental review of Regulation 168/2013.

    Last year, an estimated three million e-bikes were sold in the European Union. About 98 per cent of these were e-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, which shows the extent to which the technical legislation for L-category obstructs the development of new types of E-bikes and other LEVs.

    The LEV market holds an exciting future for cities and towns across Europe, but this potential will be lost if we do not make urgent and fundamental alterations to current legislation. LEVA-EU has presented the Commission with a well-founded proposal for legislative change. We would be very pleased to further explain and discuss this proposal.

    Finally, LEVA-EU wishes to rephrase the EEA statement: “Shifting to walking, cycling, light, electric vehicles and public transport is a duty for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal, in honour of all COVID-19 and air pollution victims.”

    Yours Sincerely,

    Annick Roetynck,
    LEVA-EU Manager

  3. LEVA-EU says ‘blanket’ EU regulation ‘choking’ light electric vehicle sector

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    The European trade association LEVA-EU is calling for an urgent change in EU regulations, it says are seriously hindering manufacturers at a time when cities are encouraging use of light, electric vehicles (LEV) as an alternative form of transport during the coronavirus crisis.

    LEVA-EU, the only trade association in Europe that works exclusively to represent light electric vehicle businesses, has presented proposals to the European Commission to revise rules it believes are inaccurate and can put users in danger.  It says the Covid-19 crisis has brought its proposals into sharp focus and is urging the EC to schedule changing the ruling as a matter of urgency.

    The advocacy group, whose work concerns a wide range of one, two, three and four wheel LEVs including E-bikes, speed pedelecs (E-bikes that can achieve speeds of up to 45km/h), E-cargo bikes  and E-scooters, says the central issue is that the Regulation class light electric vehicles (LEVs) in the same category as mopeds and motorbikes and as a result isvery seriously hampering the industry at ‘absolutely the wrong time’.

    Annick Roetynck, LEVA-EU manager, said the EC only has to look at all the cities across Europe opening up cycle lanes as the public scrambles to find safe alternative forms of transport. She called for ‘root and branch’ change to further unleash innovation and enterprise in the LEV sector much of which is made of up dynamic small to medium size firms.

    Our concern centres on Regulation 168/2013 which establishes the technical legislation for L-category vehicles, in other words mopeds and motorcycles. At the request of the Commission, the European Council and Parliament decided in 2013 to only exclude electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250 W from this L-category. So, all other electric bicycles are included in technical legislation, which has originally been written for internal combustion engine mopeds and motorcycles.

    The legislation has 1,036 pages of text, to a large extent dedicated to emissions, noise and other technical aspects which are totally irrelevant for electric bicycles. Manufacturers have to figure out which of these 1,036 pages are applicable to, for instance, their speed pedelecs or their E-cargo bikes with more than 250W. And if they manage that all, they have to go through a totally inaccurate type-approval procedure, which costs at least four times more than what the Commission predicted in their impact assessment before drafting Regulation 168/2013.

    This regulation is a significant barrier to SMEs and choking growth at a key time when the popularity and profile of LEVs as a sustainable form of transport, especially in these testing COVID-19 times, is set to soar. We must not hold back innovation and growth in this sector.

    Annick Roetynck says that classing LEVs in the same category as mopeds also presents considerable safety issues for riders. Most light electric vehicles in the L-category are able to achieve a maximum cruising speed of 30-35kmh, yet classing them as mopeds forces them off cycle lanes and onto roads among traffic achieving speeds of at least 50kmh. That difference in speed results in very dangerous and unpleasant riding conditions.

    In its proposals to the EC, LEVA-EU cites the Belgian project 365SNEL, carried out in the past 18 months where 106 people tested a speed pedelec for commuting for three weeks. After the test, 20 per cent of participants effectively swapped their car for a speed pedelec LEV.

    The research showed that price was putting off some consumers from investing in a speed pedelec, but LEVA-EU says inflated prices are the result of the complicated regulations facing manufacturers.

    Annick Roetynck said the organisation is campaigning to protect the industry as more people move to LEVs in the future. LEVA-EU acts on behalf of around 50 members across Europe and estimates about three million E-bikes alone were sold in the European Union during 2019. About 98 per cent of these were E-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, which shows the extent the technical legislation for L-category obstructs the development of new types of E-bikes.

    She said: “It has become very clear to LEVA-EU that the European technical rules for LEVs are hampering their market development. Research has shown that the biggest obstacle to getting more people to consider LEVs is still high prices, yet this price is a direct result of extremely complicated, inaccurate European technical rules. As a result of these rules, riders are often forced to ride in dangerous conditions because the speed difference between them and other means of transport is often life-threatening.

    In an open letter to the Presidents of the European Commission, Parliament and Council, LEVA-EU also calls for an amendment to the EU Green Deal. Even though the European Environment Agency has argued that shifting to walking, cycling and public transport is crucial for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objective under the EU Green Deal, the Commission’s Communication has no reference to such a shift. LEVA-EU therefore calls upon the Commission to include the shift to walking, cycling, public transport and using light, electric vehicles (LEVs) as a key element in the Green Deal and consequently put that shift at the centre of the forthcoming strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

    In the letter, LEVA-U has rephrased the EEA Statement: “Shifting to walking, cycling, light, electric vehicles and public transport is a duty for Europe to meet long-term sustainability goals and policy objectives under the EU Green Deal, in honour of all COVID-19 and air pollution victims.

    The LEV market represents an exciting future for cities and towns across Europe, but this potential will be lost if we do not make urgent alterations to current legislation. We will continue to act as a voice for our members to ensure we remove any barriers to trade and get more people to do their bit for the environment by choosing an LEV.

    LEVA-EU Member Rad Power Bikes testifies:

    LEVA – EU member Arno Saladin, European business manager of Rad Power Bikes in the Netherlands, says the combination of technical legislation and traffic codes is stifling an industry that has great potential. The business has focused on manufacturing e-bikes with a speed of up to 25kmh and maximum power above 250W (L1e-A), but he says that while a business has the time to navigate legislation in different countries, it is often confusing for the consumer.

    He said: “We haven’t expanded our line-up because our customers are facing so much uncertainty when they purchase a product in some countries, so we decided it would be much easier and clearer to produce 250W e-bikes.

    Light electric vehicles are a very new sector of the market but we find that the legislation is not created at a basic level for the consumer to use the products with confidence. That’s why we see a lot of manufacturers not introducing new models even though there is a clear demand for these types of vehicles. It’s a chicken and egg situation where, if the regulations and traffic codes were clearer then more businesses would be interested and the sector would grow. However, the decision makers say that it’s too small a sector to give it attention, but I believe that as soon as the legislators understand what they need to do, this market will rocket.

  4. Is EU type-approval dangerous for speed-pedelec riders?

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    Early February, LEVA-EU, together with the project partners of 365SNEL, organized a European symposium on the legal status and market position of the speed-pedelec. In this symposium, attended by the European Commission, several manufacturers testified about the great difficulties they are having to get their vehicles approved. Furthermore, from the results of the 365SNEL research, it can be deduced that this type approval creates risks for speed-pedelec riders.

    365SNEL is a project subsidized by the Environment Department to investigate the potential of speed-pedelecs for commuting in Flanders. It is one of the (very) few projects in the context of the European Clean Power for Transport (CPT) that focusses on light vehicles rather than on electric cars or other heavy means of transport. It is no coincidence that this project is being carried out in Flanders. That is the only constant growth market for speed-pedelecs in the EU. In 2017, more than 4,500 speed-pedelecs were registered in Flanders, in 2018 that was over 8,500 and last year the 12,000 milestone was achieved. Interesting comparison: in 2019 only half as many electric cars were registered.

    45 km / h?

    In the 365SNEL project, a test fleet of approximately 15 speed-pedelecs was deployed at 10 companies and organizations, varying in size (from small company to international group) and in nature (from educational institution to hospital). The call for test drivers was consistently answered enthusiastically. No fewer than 520 candidates applied. Among them, 106 test riders were selected, who were invited to commute with the speed-pedelec for three consecutive weeks.

    That group was interviewed before and after the test rides to determine the most important motivations and obstacles and which shifts in all this the effective use of the speed-pedelecs caused. In addition, the vehicle itself was also examined. Several findings are particularly relevant for the industry and the government.

    The main motivation for testing was speed. Most of the candidate test riders were under the assumption that they would be able to ride a constant speed of 45 km/h with a speed-pedelec and that they would therefore save a lot of time. None of the test vehicles was able to meet that expectation. The speed-pedelecs with a 350W motor offered a cruise speed of 30 to 35 km/h, those with a 500W motor of 35 to 40 km/h.

    Speed-​​pedelec = moped

    The test riders quickly overcame the disappointing speed performance of their vehicle because they experienced other benefits. In particular, the predictability of travel time and the positive effect on their mental health was a huge boost for many. Only, there is something special going on in Belgium, which explains why the speed-pedelec is a success there and not in the rest of the EU.

    In the technical regulation (Regulation 168/2013), the European Union has categorized the speed-pedelec as a moped. And so, all Member States have slavishly copied that category in their traffic codes; all Member States except Belgium. Thanks to some visionary civil servants, the speed-pedelec in the Belgian traffic code is not put aside as a moped “full stop”, instead a separate category has been created: Moped Class P – Speed ​Pedelec. This made it possible to develop adapted traffic rules with new traffic signs which, by using the letter P, allow or exclude speed-pedelecs.

    Moreover, this separate categorization made it possible to subject the speed-pedelec to the same financial incentives as traditional (e)-bikes. In Belgium, you can enjoy a tax-free allowance of up to € 0.24 if you commute by bicycle, electric bicycle or speed-pedelec. The test riders of 365SNEL covered an average of 21.6 km a day. This can result in more than € 1,300 extra this year, tax-free. Sales are further boosted by advantageous leasing formulas through employers.

    Road safety was an important obstacle before testing. But that concern faded quickly. The test riders felt at ease because of the choice between road and cycle path, which the Belgian traffic code offers. The general rule is that if the speed limit on the road is 50 km/h, the speed-pedelec rider can choose between road or cycle path. If on the road the speed limit is higher than 50 km/h, they are obliged to use the cycle path.

    New means of transport

    During the symposium, Jakob Luksch, CEO of Stromer, confirmed that the adapted traffic code is a crucial element in the Belgian success of speed-pedelecs. In other countries, speed-pedelecs are banned from cycle paths and they must be used on the road. However, if those speed-pedelecs, with a 350W motor, can only handle 30 to 35 km/h on average, then that is a particularly dangerous speed difference with the cars and trucks that you have to ride with. That explains the civil disobedience of some speed-pedelec riders in the Netherlands. If they find it safer on the cycle path, they take their number plate off and put it back on when they are on the road. So far, speed-pedelecs can hardly be recognized anyhow.

    The essence of the regulatory problem is that a speed-pedelec is a new type of vehicle that cannot be squeezed into the old concepts’ corset. It is not a bicycle, it is not a moped, it is a new means of transport. And yet, governments are stubbornly trying to subject the speed-pedelec to outdated rules.

    Mortal danger

    The European technical regulations for speed-pedelecs were originally written for conventional mopeds. This type-approval is an extremely complex, inadequate and extremely expensive affair. Speed ​​pedelecs come under legislation that consists of 1,036 pages of text, which is largely about limiting emissions and about safety features that do not concern speed-pedelecs.

    During the symposium, there were extensive testimonies about the flaws of type-approval. Markus Riese, from Riese & Müller, stated in no uncertain terms that it is not wise for a company to venture into the speed-pedelec market. His company tries to persevere because they believe that speed-pedelecs can contribute to the fight against climate change. Riese & Müller are just about the only ones with a cargo speed-pedelec in their portfolio. The vehicle was part of the 365SNEL fleet and was greatly appreciated by the test riders. Markus Riese immediately pointed to the crux of the matter: “Factor 4 does not allow you to build cargo speed-pedelecs that allows to ride uphill in a safe way. Factor 4 barely allows to achieve 10 km/h and if you are then obliged, for example with 2 children in the front, to ride on the road, you risk their lives.

    Factor 4

    Factor 4 means that the motor may not deliver more than 4 times the power than the rider delivers himself. This assistance factor 4 itself is not mandatory, the speed-pedelec only needs to be tested for the assistance factor. If the power is higher than 4, this means that for instance the frame and forks of the speed-pedelec do not necessarily have to be tested according to the ISO standard for traditional bicycles. Furthermore, the speed-pedelec is no longer exempt from the electric range test. Don’t worry if you don’t understand this. The technical services accredited to approve speed-pedelecs don’t seem to know this either, they are convinced that factor 4 must be complied with and oblige their customers to do so.

    During the symposium, Ianto Guy presented the TRL study on factor 4, which was carried out at the request of the European Commission to investigate the influence of factor 4 on vehicle safety. TRL concluded that due to a lack of accident statistics, it was impossible to determine whether factor 4 had a positive or negative impact on safety. But the researcher still had some interesting footnotes to that conclusion. He confirmed what was established in 365SNEL: “Unless you are Chris Hoy, it is impossible to reach a speed of 45 km/h with a factor of 4.

    He added that torque is the most important factor in the controllability of the vehicle: “Rideability may have a bigger impact on safety than limiting power through a maximum assistance factor. Perhaps this group of vehicles sits very uncomfortably in the type-approval for L-category vehicles

    Industry testifies

    The proposition that torque is much more important than the assistance factor was repeated time and time again that day, including by Tomas Keppens who developed the Ellio through his Belgian start-up. He was one of the few participants who found type-approval a positive thing. He is currently going through type-approval with his vehicle at a technical service and had already taken numerous hurdles. The last one was the so-called steerability test. As described in the Functional Safety Regulation, the test for speed-pedelecs is physically impossible unless you position the pedals so high that the driving position becomes particularly uncomfortable.

    Robbert Rutgrink from Santos had a clear proposal to improve the legislation. He argued for a regulation that would allow “real” speed-pedelecs, without assistance factor and with more powerful motors that allow for 45 km/h. He also argued for allowing a throttle so that “the entire 45 km/h landscape could be used by speed-pedelecs.

    Finally, Arno Saladin brought the story of Rad Power Bikes. As far as we know, that is the only producer of powered cycles in L1e-A and a three-wheeled cargo speed-pedelec in L2e-U. Rad Power Bikes chose these categories because they found it impossible to create a pedal assisted vehicle that would function properly with a maximum continuous power of 250W.

    Once they had ploughed through the type-approval, they still had to cope with another major struggle: explaining to the different Member States where and how they had to fit these vehicles into their traffic code. This only worked flawlessly in Belgium, where the government decided to put  1e-A vehicles completely on a par with conventional bicycles, so no helmet, no driver’s license, no license plate, … In all other countries, Rad Power Bike was confronted with insurmountable problems, which proved really insurmountable in Great Britain, preventing them from getting their vehicles on the road there.

    Anomalies

    Furthermore, the symposium was peppered with countless examples of major and minor obstacles in the type-approval for speed-pedelecs. For example, you must mount the brake levers exactly the  opposite way of what is common practice for bicycles. However, this is not allowed by the German traffic code. The most recent anomaly dates from January 1 this year, when the World Motorcycle Test Cycle 3 (WMTC) has become applicable. As a result, all vehicles in L1e-A and L1e-B must be submitted to an energy consumption test, which is technically impossible to perform on vehicles with pedal assistance. The original purpose of that test was to measure fuel consumption, with a view to monitoring the environmental performance of internal combustion engines. It was clearly never the intention to subject electric vehicles to this test. Unfortunately, their explicit exclusion was overlooked.

    Instead of considering the principle, the current discussion with the Commission is about how the test can be turned and twisted so that it becomes feasible for pedal assisted vehicles. This will result in yet another goalless test at the expense of the producer, or rather at the expense of the consumer. 365SNEL clearly shows that the price of speed-pedelecs is an obstacle.

    Steep prices

    The European type-approval pushes the price of a speed-pedelec in the direction of a cheap car. That car is also subject to type-approval, but the procedure is specifically designed for cars, the manufacturer is used to it and he can sell approved types in series with at least five zeros. Speed ​​pedelecs come under an inadequate and very expensive system, in which in the best case one type will be sold in a circulation of a few thousand.

    In the run-up to Regulation 168/2013, the European Commission assessed the impact of the then newly proposed rules. In that assessment, type-approval cost for speed-pedelecs was estimated at € 10,000. In reality, that cost is at least 4 times higher and with that, we are not taking into account the enormous development costs to be able to meet the type-approval.

    Since its formation, LEVA-EU, the European professional association for companies in the light, electric vehicle sector, has been striving for a structural improvement of the rules for electric bicycles in general and speed-pedelecs in particular. The symposium was an excellent opportunity to submit a proposal for fundamental changes to the regulations to the Commission and to industry.

    LEVA-EU proposes

    Currently, only electric bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W are excluded from the type-approval. Vehicles that are outside the scope of the type-approval automatically come under the Machinery Directive. This Directive contains general safety instructions for a wide range of products. However, the Machinery Directive allows a sector to develop a European safety standard for their specific product within CEN/CENELEC, the European standardization body. That is exactly what happened for the “conventional” electric bikes. As soon as they were excluded from the type-approval, the technical committee that is competent within CEN for bicycles started to write a standard for electric bicycles. This EN 15194 is an instrument for the industry to comply with the safety regulations of the Machinery Directive. Manufacturers may test and certify their products according to that standard themselves; they are not obliged to work with a technical service. This system is adequate, accessible and affordable for producers. In 2018, it is estimated that more than 2.7 million electric bicycles were put on the market under this legislation in Europe. The regulatory framework does not cause any significant safety issues.

    That is why LEVA-EU proposes not only for electric vehicles, but for all zero-emission vehicles for individual transport up to a maximum speed and weight, to be determined in consultation with the industry, to be excluded from the type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles. This will allow for the abolishment of the L1e-A category, whilst the offer of vehicles will become much more varied. LEVA-EU considers it essential to delete the current power limit of 250W. It is much more important to control the acceleration instead of the power. The technological limitations (pedal assistance only) must also be removed from the law in order to make technological developments possible.

    An electric bicycle with a motor assisting up to 25 km/h which, for example, has a throttle in addition to pedal assistance, may well considerably improve safety. Among other things, it allows drivers to start quickly when the lights go green and to obtain the necessary acceleration to escape from dangerous situations.

    Technological and market development

    Zero emission vehicles for the transport of passengers or goods up to a certain speed, to be determined in consultation with the industry, must also be excluded without a power limit from the type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles. Within CEN, a working group has recently been set up to write a standard for cargo bikes. The above-mentioned exclusion will offer that working group the opportunity to develop an accurate standard for well performing vehicles. Now the 250W is a huge obstacle to the technological and market development of e-cargo bikes, although that market offers fantastic prospects.

    For zero emission vehicles up to 45 km/h with a maximum weight, to be determined in consultation with the industry, the European Commission should, according to LEVA-EU, carry out a new impact analysis to determine the best way forward. LEVA-EU believes that there are two solutions. Either, these vehicles could be excluded from the L category, which means that they automatically come under the Machinery Directive and it gives CEN the opportunity to write a standard. Or the Commission creates a totally new category, completely separate from the current L category, in which a type-approval is being developed, specifically for light zero emission vehicles up to 45 km/h with a maximum weight.

    As a result of this, Member States would no longer slavishly categorize speed-pedelecs and other light zero-emission vehicles in the L category in the moped category of their traffic code. They would be forced to reflect on an adapted position of these vehicles in their traffic code and about adequate traffic rules and terms of use.

    New study

    Efren Sanchez-Galindo, who represented the Commission, followed the discussions during the symposium with great attention. At the end of the day, he acknowledged that there is a lot of room for improvement, but he added an ominous statement. He argued that further exclusions of electric bicycles and speed-pedelecs from the L category and associated type-approval were unlikely because several Member States had approached his unit with a clear question. They want the Commission to examine whether and how light, electric vehicles such as electric scooters and self-balancing vehicles can be included in the type-approval. The request originates from Member States who have quite a few problems at home to get the new mobility phenomena regulated.

    The European Commission intends to order a study on this issue some time this year. If that study argues that, for example, e-scooters should be classed under the L category, all hell will be loose. In that case, there would be no arguments left to even keep conventional, electric bikes out of L-category. And the consequences of such a conclusion would be simply catastrophic!

    Annick Roetynck,
    LEVA-EU Manager

    This article is also available in Dutch, contact Annick Roetynck for a copy, tel. +32 9 233 60 05 , email [email protected]

  5. CAKE News

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    The Ösa receives iF DESIGN AWARD 2020

    LEVA-EU member CAKE, the Swedish manufacturer of lightweight electric off-road performance motorcycles, announced that their newest model; Ösa, the electric utility motorcycle and rolling power station is awarded the iF DESIGN AWARD.

    “It´s truly rewarding that CAKEs most recent and most evident contribution, towards zero emission, the Ösa has been awarded the iF DESIGN AWARD. No matter what the individual need is, in terms of what to bring, the modular multi clamp system serves sustainable transportation, whether in a city or in the outback, exploring. Off the grid independence acknowledged by a world class jury is encouraging!” Says Stefan Ytterborn, CEO & Founder of CAKE.

    Behind iF DESIGN AWARD is the International Forum Design GmbH, organizers of one of the world’s most celebrated and valued design competitions: Recognized as a symbol of design excellence around the world, the iF DESIGN AWARD welcomes over 5,000 submissions from 70 countries every year

    Learn more about CAKE

  6. European Commission consults on OBD for electric L-category vehicles

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    EU Regulation 168/2013 on the type-approval for the L-category does not exempt pure electric vehicles (‘EVs’) from ‘functional’ OBD requirements (except for L1 and L2). Apart from the exemption from the Type VIII test. Nevertheless, the text of the Regulation is ambiguous and contains inconsistencies when it comes to this topic.

    The text of Annex XII of Regulation 44/2014 clearly indicates that only vehicles with combustion engines were considered during the drafting of that regulation.

    To solve this issue the European commission had created a task force consisting of the Commission, member states and stakeholders, including LEVA-EU. The objective is to achieve a common interpretation of Regulations 168/2013, 44/2014 and 3/2014 on the topic of OBD and to eventually make the Regulation clearer.

    It is obvious that all OBD requirements related to emission control systems and emission thresholds do not apply to electric L-category vehicles. The requirement to report the triggering of any operating mode, which significantly reduces engine torque would be applicable. Furthermore, there are relevant requirements related to access to OBD information, a connection interface, reporting on powertrain faults leading to significantly reduced torque and RMI.

    LEVA-EU believes it is essential for electric L-category vehicle producers to be involved in this process and therefore calls upon them to contact LEVA-EU manager Annick Roetynck for further details and consultation: tel. + 32 9 233 60 05, email [email protected]

     

  7. LEVA-EU welcomes long awaited TRL research into factor 4.

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    The European Commission has finally decided to appoint TRL to carry out the long awaited research into the type-approval requirement of a maximum assistance factor for speed pedelecs. LEVA-EU is welcoming this research and committed to giving TRL full support. Any company or research institute with relevant information is invited to contact TRL.

    Speed pedelecs, i.e. electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 45 km/h, must comply with the European, technical rules laid down in the Type-Approval for category L1e-B “mopeds”. These rules consist of hundreds of pages of text and are therefore extremely complicated. Furthermore, the rules have originally been written for mopeds and are therefore not accurate for speed pedelecs or for any other electric bicycles for that matter.

    Thanks to ETRA, the European trade association for bicycles dealers, which ceased to exist in 2013, some parts of the text have been adapted to better accommodate electric bicycles in the Type-Approval. However one specific paragraph was introduced in the texts, which throughout the years has continued to cause controversy. Certain parties thought this paragraph was necessary to make a clear distinction between bicycles and mopeds.

    As a result, the Commission introduced the following paragraph: “Cycles designed to pedal of vehicle category L1e-B shall have a mass in running order of ≤ 35 kg and shall be fitted with pedals enabling the vehicle to be propelled solely by the rider’s muscular leg power. The vehicle shall feature adjustable rider positioning in order to enhance the ergonomic posture of the rider for pedalling. The auxiliary propulsion power shall be added to the driver’s pedal power and shall be less than or equal to four times the actual pedal power.”

    ETRA fiercely opposed that paragraph mainly because of the maximum assistance factor requirement. ETRA argued that there was no evidence what so ever to show that this maximum assistance factor was necessary to ensure the safety of speed pedelecs. The requirement was nothing but an unnecessary design limitation that hampers the technological and market development of electric bicycles in the Type-Approval. As a compromise, the Commission introduced in the texts the promise to have the maximum assistance factor four examined, based on scientific data and statistics on vehicles placed on the market. The Commission stated that this examination could potentially result in the review of factor four. That research has now been assigned to the British Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).

    In the meantime however, the Belgian University KU Leuven also became involved in the matter of type-approval for electric bicycles. Professor Jan Cappelle and his PhD student Bram Rotthier found that the maximum assistance factor is not a legal obligation for speed pedelecs. The “cycles designed to pedal” as described above are not a separate type-approval category. Type-approval legislation does not hold any legal obligations for electric bicycles in L1e-B to comply with maximum assistance factor four. It only holds a legal obligation to test the auxiliary propulsion power on its maximum assistance. Strangely enough, this obligation to test for maximum assistance factor also applies to all vehicles in L1e-A, even though the requirement itself does not. LEVA-EU has asked the Commision repeatedly to eliminate this unneccessary test, which is a waste of companies’ money, but the Commission continues to refuse. They state that the test holds valuable information for the end-user. To date, we have not yet found the first end-user who knows what maximum assistance factor means.

    If a speed pedelec complies with maximum assistance factor four, then the requirement for vehicle structure integrity is that the vehicle must be designed and constructed to conform with all prescriptions regarding strength and construction of front forks and frames as stipulated in standard ISO 4210:2014. This combined with the limitation of the weight to 35 kg, is the only practical consequence of the designation “cycles designed to pedal”. If the speed pedelec has an assistance factor higher than four, then it does not need to be tested according to ISO 4210:2014. Incidentally, the reference to this ISO standard itself has now become inaccurate since in 2017 a completely revised EN 15194 has been published. The ISO standard refers to conventional city bikes, the revised EN 15194 has specific requirements for electric bicycle frames and forks.

    LEVA-EU has taken over the battle for accurate technical rules for electric bicycles from ETRA. LEVA-EU considers adequate technical rules the single most important condition to enable this sector to fully tap on the potential of electric bicycles and LEVs in general. LEVA-EU therefore very much welcomes the fact that the Commission’s promise of further research on factor 4 has now come to fruition. Obviously, LEVA-EU is giving TRL its full cooperation. It is however essential for TRL to hear as many testimonies as possible from companies involved in the speed pedelec business. So TRL has launched the following appeal:

    For speed pedelec companies as well as speed pedelec component companies to provide TRL with information on

    • design philosophy of speed pedelecs e.g. the choice of assistance factor, powertrain configuration and control methodology
    • current usage profiles e.g. types of journeys undertaken, rider’s age and gender, whether journeys are conducted on cycle paths or highways
    • any issues encountered while riding e.g. collisions or incidents, interactions with other road users;
    • perceptions of the effects of assistance factor on safety e.g. issues with controllability or stability encountered while riding.

    TRL also wishes to hear from anybody who has any research in the area of assistance factor and safety.

    If you have any relevant information on the above mentioned issues, please contact:
    Dr Ianto Guy – TRL Vehicle Safety and Technology Consultant
    Email [email protected] – tel. +44 [0]1344 770 084 – mobile +44 [0]7436 270343

     

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