Tag Archive: speed pedelecs

  1. Belgian, Dutch and German LEV Markets 2020

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    The Netherlands

    As for electric bicycle sales in the Netherlands, by the 1 June 2020, a total of 149,000 e-bikes had been sold. This is a 12% increase compared to the first five months of 2019. In the month of  May alone, around 58,000 electric bicycles have been sold, which is an all-time month record and growth of 38% compared to May 2019 according a GfK study commissioned by BOVAG.

    In the first eight months of this year a total of 3,347 speed pedelecs (L1e-B) have been sold according to Raivereniging. This represent a growth of around 58% compared to 2019 (2,119). At the top of the sales’ charts remains Stromer, who sold most speed pedelecs in the Netherlands both in the first eight months of 2019 and 2020. Gazelle and Riese & Müller came respectively second and third in 2020, switching their 2019 positions.

    Belgium

    Accurate statistics about electric bicycles sales in Belgium are hardly available. However, there is up to date information on the registration of speed pedelecs (L1e-B) at the Dienst Inschrijving Voertuigen (DIV). A total of 7,165 speed have been registered at the DIV in the first seven months of 2020.  This is a decrease of 7,5% compared to the same period in 2019.

    In Belgium there are 2 types of electric mopeds that are allowed on the road: category A with a maximum design speed of 25 km/h and category B with a maximum design speed of 45 km/h

    A total of 281 electric A-mopeds have been registered at the DIV in the first seven months in 2020. This is an increase of  22% compared to the same period last year. As for electric B-mopeds, a total of 1,153 were registered as opposed to  2,523 registrations for the same period in 2019, that is 54.30%. This bad result is due to the sudden and unexpected decision to stop subsidies for electric mopeds.

    For Belgium and the Netherlands, it is worth noting that the corona lockdown has delayed supplies and therefore also registrations of speed pedelecs and electric mopeds. It remains to be seen whether the backlog will be made up in the rest of the year.

    Germany

    According to data by the German bicycle industry organization ZIV, around 1.1 million e-bikes have been sold in the first six months of 2020. This represents a growth of just under 16% compared to the same period last year. It is unknown to what extend speed pedelecs are included within this data.

    In the case of electric motorcycle registrations, there were a total of 1,045 pieces registered in Germany this year. Compared to the same period in 2019, that is a slight increase of just over 3.5% according data by ACEM.

    Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

  2. TRL research on factor 4 questions current type-approval for speed pedelecs

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    There is no evidence that the maximum assistance factor 4 has any effect on the safety of speed pedelecs. And, the scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 does not cater for the many variants of electric bicycles and the possibilities that exist to modify those vehicles. Those are the 2 main findings of TRL’s research into factor 4, carried out at the request of the European Commission.

    At the Motorcycle Working Group meeting of 25 September, Ianto Guy has presented the findings of the TRL study into factor 4 for speed pedelecs. There is no evidence that the regulation of the assistance factor has any effect, either positive or negative on the safety of cycles designed to pedal in L1e-B.

    This finding results from the analysis of the very few scientific papers on the issue. According to TRL, in their papers, Erik Gross and Bram Rotthier did not provide definitive evidence for or against the idea that the assistance factor has a direct effect on safety. They did however demonstrate that factor 4 allows for cruising speeds, which are significantly less than 45 km/h. That is the heart of the whole matter.

    In 2013, factor 4 was proposed by CONEBI because the CONEBI members at that time believed that a cruising speed of + 30 km/h would serve three purposes. At a time when there were hardly any speed pedelecs on the market yet, they thought that 30 km/h would be sufficient to please those consumers who were looking for a slightly more sportive electric bike. Secondly, they believed it would be adequate to convince the authorities not to impose a moped helmet on the riders of these vehicles. And last but not least, it enabled them to bring a variation of their existing 25 km/h – 250Wpedelecs on the market without too much R&D effort.

    Since then however, there are a few brands on the market who use a factor higher than 4, which allows their customers to achieve cruising speeds much closer to 45 km/h. It turns out that there is a market for such speed pedelecs, since the brands concerned are quite successful. Consumers are very well aware of the difference between the two different types of speed pedelecs, as appears clearly from the Belgian project 365SNEL. In this project, around 120 test riders have been commuting on a speed pedelec for 3 weeks. People tend to use a speed pedelec rather than a 25 km/h when they live further than 15 km away from work. Some of them commute over quite long distances. In those cases, a speed pedelec with a cruising speed of 30 km/h is not up for competition  with a car, whereas a speed pedelec with at cruising speed of 40 km/h is.

    TRL has also found that the current type-approval legislation obstructs the market development of speed pedelecs. TRL states: “The process of measuring assistance factor as part of the type approval process is difficult for manufacturers to comply with because there are very few test houses with the equipment required to undertake the relevant tests or a full understanding of how the Regulations should be applied.” This is exactly why LEVA-EU has been opposing factor 4: it is an unnecessary requirement, which results in unnecessary costs for companies who want to bring speed pedelecs to the market.

    TRL also states: “The scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 does not cater for the many variants of electrically assisted bicycles and the possibilities that exist to modify those vehicles. This has had the effect of permitting vehicles that do not comply with either the spirit or letter of the Regulations to be sold legally but then operated illegally on the road in the EU.” This is what LEVA-EU has been arguing consistently and incessantly: the current type-approval procedure for electric bicycles is an inaccurate law which does not ensure safe vehicles. Because the type-approval prescribed by this law is totally inaccurate, exceedingly complicated and incredibly expensive, many companies opt to skirt the law through a variety of solutions to get to higher speeds.

    Based on this research, TRL formulated a number of recommendations. The principle recommendation which was welcomed most by LEVA-EU was: “Given that cycles designed to pedal are intended to have a very different character to other vehicles in the L1e-B sub-category it would seem appropriate to separate them into a sub-category of their own. (…)” And TRL concluded with this recommendation: “Given the limited maximum speed of cycles designed to pedal in L1e-B, consideration should be given to the appropriateness of national regulations that require cycles designed to pedal in L1e-B to use roads rather than purpose built cycle infrastructure. This perhaps requires a separate investigation to understand the potential conflicts that might arise from cycles designed to pedal being permitted to us cycle paths and cycles designed to pedal using roads.

    The European Commission is yet to release the full study. However, at the Motorcycle Working Group meeting they briefly commented and concluded: “We can assess the categorization of these vehicles and aim for a type-approval that facilitates these vehicles.

    The first draft of Regulation 168/2013 was issued in 2009. On this 10th anniversary, there is finally hope that the European Union will embark on the development of a technical framework for electric bicycles that is accurate, well-founded and accessible for all companies, big and small, who wish to bring electric bicycles, other than 25 km/h – 250W, to the market. Despite the fact that there numbers in Europe are still limited, it has already been clearly proven that these vehicles can make a significant contribution to making mobility more sustainable.

    For more background information on factor four, please read: LEVA-EU welcomes long awaited TRL research into factor 4

  3. EU registrations of electric motorcycles, mopeds and quadricycles up by 70%

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    Source: ACEM – EU combined registrations of electric mopeds, motorcycles and quadricycles reached 35,810 units during the first six months of 2019. This represents a substantial increase of 70,0% compared to the registration levels of the first half of 2018 (21,062 units). Most of the electric L-category vehicles registered in the first six months of 2019 are mopeds (28,577 units), followed by motorcycles (5,812 units) and a much smaller number of quadricycles (about 1,421 units).

    The largest European markets in terms of volume were France, where combined registrations of mopeds, motorcycles and quadricycles totalled (8,723 units, +60,6% on a year-on-year basis), followed by Belgium (8,087 vehicles, +111,0%), the Netherlands (6,321 vehicles, +62,1%), Spain (4,052 vehicles, +35,8%) and Italy (2,426 vehicles, +86,2%).

    It should be noted that the category of electric mopeds also includes speed-pedelecs, i.e. electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 45 km/h.

  4. 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 https://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 [email protected] – tel. +44 [0]1344 770 084 – mobile +44 [0]7436 270343

  5. 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!

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