Tag Archive: Leva Europe – Working for Light Electric Vehicles in Europe

  1. LEVA-EU wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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    It has been a pleasure working with all of you this year. We are looking forward to continuing our cooperation next year.

    Let’s work together for more light, electric vehicles on the road for a cleaner, healthier, safer and happier Europe.

    In the meantime, we wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy New Year!

    The LEVA-EU team:

    Annick Roetynck, General Manager
    Bram Rotthier, Technical Director
    Dennis Hu, Director China Affairs
    Daan van Dieren, Policy Officer

  2. Initial TRL-findings: type-approval makes electric bikes unattractive for industry & consumers

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    In the last MCWG meeting of 19 March, TRL presented a progress update on their research into the maximum assistance factor for electric bicycles in L1e-B. Their initial findings show that the current type-approval stands in the way of speed pedelecs and other e-bikes in the type-approval.

    In the Motor Cycle Working Group (MCWG), the European Commission consults with member states and with stakeholders, one of which is LEVA-EU, on the type-approval for the L-category. This working group is the discussion platform for all amendments, corrections and changes to Directive 168/2013 and its 4 Implementing Acts.

    In the last MCWG meeting, TRL presented a progress update on their investigation into the safety effects of the assistance factor for cycles designed to pedal in L1e-B. For further background information on the origins of the TRL research, please read http://leva-eu.com/2019/03/14/leva-eu-welcomes-long-awaited-trl-research-into-factor-4/

    For many years, first ETRA and now LEVA-EU have been arguing that this type-approval procedure is not suitable for electric bicycles. The procedure is originally written for mopeds and motorcycles. It is far too complicated, expensive and above all totally inaccurate for electric bicycles. It is very encouraging that the initial TRL findings appear to corroborate this position.

    A selection of the most relevant TRL findings so far:

    • No definitive evidence has been found to support the notion that the level of assistance factor provided by a pedelec affects the safety of the vehicle in either a positive or negative way.
    • From a safety perspective the most important implications of differentiating ‘cycles designed to pedal’ from the rest of the vehicles in L1e-B is that their maximum mass is limited to 35 kg.
    • The requirements applicable to L1e-A and L1e-B categories do not make them attractive to manufacturers and users.
    • The current assistance factor test method fails to address the most common accident type, which occurs at low speed

    During the meeting, TRL researcher Dr. Ianto Guy, added a few extremely relevant observations to his presentation. He stated: “We struggle to understand why in this Regulation a choice has been made to regulate power rather than torque. From a controlling point of view it is far more important to control torque than to control power.

    That was exactly the reason for ETRA, when the draft Regulation 168/2013 was discussed, to work for the abolition of the 250W limit applicable for the exclusion of electric bicycles from the type-approval. Had the argument been accepted, we would now not be stuck with the completely useless L1e-A type-approval for electric bicycles 25 km/h with more than 250W. These +250W bikes would also have been excluded from the type-approval. Therefore they would have come under the Machinery Directive and CEN TC 333 would have had the possibility to adapt EN 15194 to include +250W electric bicycles. What’s more, electric cargo bicycles would now not have been obstructed by this annoying limit and the new WG 9 in TC 333 could have developed a European standard for electric cargo bikes that helps instead of limits the market.

    TRL also found that “the regulation of assistance factor is regarded as being important in differentiating pedelecs from mopeds but not in influencing the safety of the machine”. This view appeared to have been expressed by Bosch. It is exactly a secret that Bosch is one of the main supporters of factor 4. The TRL researcher added to this finding that it was very questionable whether type-approval should be used to define the design of vehicles. LEVA-EU has consistently argued that type-approval should only pursue safety and environmental objectives and should not pursue design limitations.

    Two stakeholders in the meeting vigorously protested against the fact that in their view the TRL research was going beyond the scope set out by the Commission. Such reaction was foreseeable for ACEM, the Motorcycle Manufacturers’ Association. They dread the potential competition from electric bicycles for their traditional mopeds. As for CONEBI, who also protested against going beyond the scope, to date we fail to fathom this reaction. The current type-approval is clearly not in the interest of the electric bicycle sector. So why would an e-bike trade association protest against independent research that corroborates this conclusion and therefore paves the way for better regulation? In the meeting, the European Commission refuted the objections from both associations.

    In the meantime, the research is still on-going and TRL are appealing for further stakeholder engagement. Should you have any observations on the maximum assistance factor and/or on the effectiveness of type-approval for electric bicycles, please contact:
    Dr Ianto Guy – TRL Vehicle Safety and Technology Consultant
    Email iguy@trl.co.uk – tel. +44 [0]1344 770 084 – mobile +44 [0]7436 270343

  3. E-bikes have brighter future than electric cars

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    No less than 45% of all bicycles sold in Belgium are supported by an electric motor. Professor Jan Cappelle, head of the Energy & Automation Research Group at the Ghent Technology Campus of KUL, the Leuven university, is very pleased with that success. However, ever since his team has started to take a close look at e-bikes, he has frowned on many occasions.

    This article was published in the Campus newspaper of the KU Leuven.

    Having grown up in a family without a car, Jan Cappelle has a profound belief in the potential of e-bikes. “I live in Waregem. For five years now, every day I have been covering the 32 kilometres to the campus  and back with a speed pedelec, an electric bike with assistance up to 45 km/h. I used to commute with a racing bike, but changing clothes is a hassle, very inconvenient if you are expected in the auditorium at half past eight. With the speed pedelec I am also less tired and it gives me a liberating feeling to overtake stationary cars at a speed of 40 km/h.

    Jan Cappelle’s team developed a smart bicycle storage system that protects every electric bicycle against theft and charges the battery via a universal charger. © KU Leuven – Rob Stevens

    Jan Cappelle’s research group wants to develop technological improvements, which ensure that the e-bike makes full use of its potential. “We soon found out that manufacturers are not very concerned with electrical support,” he explains. “Because consumer demand for e-bikes is high, manufacturers often just add a motor and a battery to their existing bike models, without being really concerned about the product as a whole.

    The team developed a smart bicycle storage system that protects every electric bike against theft and that charges the battery by means of a universal charger. Jan Cappelle: ” From the battery connection on the e-bike we connect two cables with clamps on the front fork. When you push  your front wheel in between the two bars of the charging station, your bike is secured. With your smartphone you scan the QR code that identifies your bike, which establishes a connection with the database of the charging system and the charging process starts automatically.

    “Every brand of electric bicycles has a different type of charger, it is unbelievable that the sector fails to standardize it.”

    Quality framework

    In the Belgian TGVelo project, for the very first time the research group  brought together the producers of e-bikes with large user groups such as the Cycling Federation, Colruyt, Bpost and the municipality of Ghent. “Together, we are investigating a quality framework for electric bicycles. Today, group purchases have requirements such as aluminium mudguards or disc brakes , but that hardly qualifies as quality requirements. In close cooperation with the industry, we are now defining parameters that provide relevant information on the performance, the safety and reliability of the e-bikes.

    Another project Belgian project involves speed pedelecs. It is part of the Flemish action plan ‘Clean Power For Transport’ and aims at investigating the potential of these vehicles to make mobility more sustainable. The Ghent research team, in cooperation with a few other partners offers employees of interested companies the opportunity to test a speed pedelec for commuting for three weeks. “We monitor all the trips they make during that period“, explains Jan Cappelle. “We collect data about the routes, speed and riding behaviour and compare them with those of other means of transport. We also measure the riding experience and the quality of the vehicles using calibrated procedures. Although the speed pedelecs used in the project are brand new, we notice that intensive use often results in parts getting damaged or coming loose. We share our reports with the manufacturers to allow them to solve structural problems.”

    “I see more of a future for the electric bicycle than in the electric car. It will remain expensive, consumes twenty times more energy and offers no solution to traffic jams.”

    E-bikes stolen

    A growing number of people are becoming aware of the benefits of e-bikes. Today, in Belgium almost half of all bicycles sold have an electric motor. “Moreover, new means of transport are gaining popularity for a variety of distances. For instance, the number of electric mini-scooters and monowheels (unicycles steered hands-free) is visibly growing. We will gradually change over to electric transport. In that trend, I believe e-bikes have a brighter future than the electric car, which will remain expensive, consumes twenty times more energy and offers no solution for congestion.

    Jan Cappelle with a solar powered cargo bike that students developed as part of their master project. © KU Leuven – Rob Stevens

    Now that light electric vehicles such as e-bikes and e-scooters are on the rise, the concepts of ‘cyclists’ and ‘moped riders’, which the legislator use to determine the legal rules, have become obsolete. For instance, how to categorize the speed pedelec, which in current legislation is classed as a moped with pedals? Cappelle and his team are striving for a more accurate legislation. They assist LEVA-EU in negotations on technical rules with the European Commission. One of these meeting had a remarkable ending.

    “We were annoyed that these Commission people in tailor made suits had never seen a speed pedelec  up close. So, we decided to ride from the campus in Ghent to our meeting in Brussels. We locked our e-bikes in a bicycle rack on the square in front of the Berlaymont building. We concluded our presentation for the Commission with the words: ‘If you want to try one of these vehicles, please join us outside’. However, back on the square, we found that our speed pedelecs had been stolen! Despite the fact that there was an abundance of security because Angela Merkel was in Brussels on that very day. So, someone had been cutting our locks right under the nose of an army of security people!

  4. Motor Vehicle Insurance Directive: LEVA-EU asks EP to exclude certain LEVs

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    The European institutions are currently reviewing the Motor Vehicle Insurance Directive. This is relevant to the sector of light, electric vehicles because this Directive stipulates which vehicles are subject to a special motor vehicle insurance.

    So far, there was a clause in the Directive, which gave the member states the authority to exclude certain vehicles from the motor vehicle insurance directive. In the majority of the member states this clause was used to exclude electric bicycles with motor power up to 250W and assistance up to 25 km/h. In a number of member states, other light, electric vehicles such as scooters, self-balancing vehicles, electric hoverboards, etc. were also excluded on the basis of this clause.

    All this may now be jeopardized because the European Commission believes that a larger variety of vehicles should be included. They have proposed a text to the European Parliament (EP), to which the EP has developed a number of amendments. These amendments will be voted in the IMCO Parliamentary Committee on Tuesday 22 January.

    Two amendments are aimed at excluding all vehicles that are excluded from Regulation 168/2013 from this insurance, two other amendments are rather aimed at making these vehicles also subject to the Motor Vehicle Insurance Directive.

    In anticipation of the vote on Tuesday,  LEVA-EU has sent a statement to all members of the IMCO Committee. LEVA-EU requests them to approve the amendments aimed at excluding those vehicles that are excluded from Regulation 168/2013 as well as L1e-A category vehicles. The latter are already severely obstructed by an aberration in technical legislation and would be further hampered if they were made subject to a motor vehicle insurance. LEVA-EU also requests the MEPs to vote against the two amendments aiming at enlarging the scope of the Motor Vehicle Insurance Directive.

    LEVA-EU will continue to monitor this issue very closely and will continue to discuss this with the European authorities with a view to obtain the best outcome for the European LEV-Sector.

    For further information, please contact LEVA-EU Manger, Annick Roetynck, email leva-eu@telenet.be, tel. +32 9 233 60 05.

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