Tag Archive: TRL

  1. fka and TRL publish webinar on the future of EU micromobility technical regulations

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    The online event was a successful stakeholder launch of a project being conducted by TRL and fka on behalf of the European Commission on future regulations for micromobility in the EU

    Lead by Dr Ianto Guy, Practice Lead at TRL, and attended by Annick Roetynck, Manager of LEVA-EU, the online webinar discussed harmonised rules to support the rise of micromobility and increased road safety for personal mobility devices. Lasting approximately 1.5 hours, the webinar included a fruitful QnA session.

    TRL is a global centre for innovation in surface transport and mobility, with a focus on creating clean and efficient transport that is safe, reliable and accessible for everyone. The Germany-based fka is a research partner for the automotive industry, developing innovative solutions and strategic consulting.

    The presentation includes a call for assistance, where TRL is very keen to hear from stakeholders who can help with following:

    ▪ Market data
    ▪ Evidence on the ways in which a lack of harmonised regulations is affecting the micromobility industry
    ▪ Collision data – particularly, detailed accounts of collision mechanisms
    ▪ Suggestions and feedback on cutoff limits for micromobility (30km/h, 250kg ??) – do we need to include factors other than mass and speed?
    ▪ Suggestions and feedback on technical requirements
    ▪ Suggestions and feedback on a pragmatic but effective system for self-certification which enables easy enforcement?
    ▪ Potential unintended consequences

    Contact details can be found within the presentation pdf file.

    Watch the webinar in full on YouTube here.

  2. TRL-study: LEVA-EU pleased but not fully satisfied

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    LEVA-EU has fully analysed the TRL-study on Personal Mobility Devices for the European Commission. The trade association is extremely pleased with TRL’s conclusion that dedicated legislation for LEVs is the best way forward. However, LEVA-EU is not as pleased with some of the finer details of the study.

    Regulation 168/2013 on the approval and market surveillance of 2- or 3-wheel vehicles and quadricycles is the core of technical legislation and categorization of light electric vehicles (LEVs).

    These are either included in the scope of the legislation. That is for instance the case for electric cargocycles with more than 250W or for speed pedelecs. Or, they come under one of the exclusions listed in Article 2.2 of the Regulation. That is for instance the case for EPACs, i.e. electric bikes with pedal assistance up to 250W and 25 km/h, but also for e-scooters, self-balancing vehicles, etc.

    If they are excluded from Regulation 168/2013, the vehicles come under the Machinery Directive. This opens the possibility of developing harmonized standards, which offer presumption of conformity. If your vehicle complies with the standard, it is presumed to be in conformity with the Machinery Directive.

    So far, there is only one harmonized standard for LEVs, i.e. EN 15194:2017. The EN 17128:2020 for vehicles without a seat and self-balancing vehicles has not been harmonized.

    Two major legal problems

    Current legislation for LEVs poses two major problems. First, the legislation has not been specifically written for LEVs and is therefore not adequate. This results in very serious legal bottlenecks, which obstruct market development. One of the worst affected vehicle categories is L1e-A “Powered Cycles”, i.e. electric cycles with a maximum speed of 25 km/h and maximum 1 kW. As a result, virtually no vehicles have been type-approved in L1e-A

    Second major problem is that inclusion in Regulation 168/2013 results in national rules that are particularly restrictive and hindering, since they have been developed for vehicle concepts, which are quite different from LEVs. The worst example is the categorization of speed pedelecs as mopeds. Consequently, in most member states they are subject to moped terms of use that seriously hinder the use of speed pedelecs, thus the market development.

    Commission acknowledges problems

    Vehicles excluded from Regulation 168/2013 are for their use completely dependant on national rules. Some member states for instance do not allow the use of e-scooters on public roads. On the other hand, all member states have granted EPACs the same status as conventional bicycles, which allowed the market to prosper.

    As the market is growing, the European Commission is beginning to acknowledge that there are problems. In April, the Commission has proposed to exclude all vehicles from the Machinery Directive. With that however, the Commission has not yet made any statements as to where these excluded vehicles should be housed instead. It appears this decision is left to the Commission department responsible for Regulation 168/2013.  

    5 regulatory options

    Last year, that department has commissioned TRL to conduct a study into so-called “Personal Mobility Devices” (PMDs). This term covers standing and seated e-scooters, EPACs, L1e-A Powered Cycles, cycles designed to pedal in L1e-B (speed pedelecs), electric cargocycles, self-balancing vehicles, e-hoverboards, e-monowheels and e-skateboards.

    The study had 5 objectives:
    1) to provide a PMD-inventory
    2) to provide a detailed analysis of the market and of the influence of existing legislation at EU and national level
    3) to collect and evaluate data on PMD-accidents
    4) to assess current use and safety aspects of PMDs not covered by Regulation 168/2013
    5) to provide recommendations on technical requirements and traffic rules

    The most important element of the study consisted of the 5 regulatory options, which TRL formulated:

    1. Include all PMDs within the scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013,
    2. Exclude from the scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 any PMD with a maximum speed less than 25km/h,
    3. Exclude from the scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 any PMD with a maximum speed less than 30km/h,
    4. Exclude from the scope of Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 any PMD with a maximum motor power less than 1,000W, and
    5. Devise a dedicated system for the harmonised approval of PMDs that is separate from both Regulation (EU) No 168/2013 and the Machinery Directive.

    Preferred option

    TRL added a judgment to these options. Option 1 should be dismissed. Options 2, 3 and 4 would simplify the criteria for exclusion from Regulation 168/2013. This would open up possibilities for creating new types of PMDs. However, TRL points out that these options do not resolve the issue of harmonizing the rules for PMDs across Europe. Option 5 provides for technical regulation outside the Machinery Directive and Regulation 168/2013 and would, according to TRL, be tailored to the needs of the PMD industry. The system could include a variety of assessment methods, ranging from self-certification to independent testing. TRL concludes on option 5: “In our view this new system for the regulation and approval of PMDs would provide the flexibility necessary to support innovation in this rapidly evolving sector, while maintaining technical standards and road safety.

    Option 5 itself does not hold any criteria for exclusion from Regulation 168/2013. TRL suggests that for this purpose, option 5 could be combined with option 2, 3 or 4. In their recommendations they take the matter a step further: they propose to exclude all vehicles up to 30 km/h from Regulation 168/2013. The proposal to increase the limit to 30 km/h is “to bring the speed of these vehicles in line with the speed limits now being used in many urban areas”.

    In line with LEVA-EU position

    TRL’s preferred option, i.e. dedicated LEV-legislation, is fully in line with LEVA-EU’s position as explained in our position paper. Such dedicated legislation offers many advantages that are essential to the development of the LEV-market. Just like Regulation 168/2013 does for conventional mopeds and motorcycles, a horizontal regulation with essential requirements for all LEVs can provide for an automatic right for vehicles to be placed on the market. This would prevent Member States from denying vehicles that comply with the Regulation access to public roads.

    Second important advantage is that such a horizontal Regulation will force Member States to think carefully about categorization of vehicles. It will no longer be possible to bury them in unadapted categories, as is the case now, for example with L1e-A vehicles and speed pedelecs in the moped category.

    The Member States will also be forced to think about the terms of use for LEVs. LEVA-EU believes that the Commission must play a proactive role in this by encouraging the Member States to exchange experience and of best practice. In this framework, the Commission could for instance initiate an LEV observatory. This observatory could monitor market developments and analyse how regulations in the Member States influence that development.

    And last but not least, dedicated legislation will curb the growing tendency of Member States to develop their own, national, technical requirements. This will allow the LEV-sector to return to the basic principle of the single market in which manufacturers can supply the whole of the EU with one and the same vehicle. This, in turn, creates the possibility to organize structural consultation with the LEV-sector on that technical legislation. Today, the national requirements developed by Member States are too often resulting from guesswork.

    Repurpose L1e-A

    Whilst LEVA-EU fully supports TRL’s preferred option for dedicated legislation, we find their additional proposals unacceptable and illogical. In their recommendations, they propose to only exclude vehicles up to 30 km/h from Regulation 168/2013. For vehicles with a higher speed limit, such as speed pedelecs, TRL suggests to repurpose category L1e-A. In this category the speed limit should be raised to 45 km/h, whilst the power limit of 1,000 W could be retained.

    TRL adds: “The revision of this category would provide for mechanism by which cycles designed to pedal could be regulated separately from mopeds. This would allow special consideration to be given to the standards and tests that need to be applied to these vehicles without inadvertently interfering with the arrangements in place for mopeds. Moving cycles designed to pedal into L1e-A would also permit manufacturers to design three and four wheeled cycles designed to pedal, which are currently not permitted under L1e-B, thus creating a sub-category that would be highly suitable for pedal assisted cargo tricycles and quadricycles.

    Under the heading “Important findings and recommendations”, TRL states the following on type-approval: “It should be noted that for pedal cycle derived vehicles different frame sizes of the same model and men’s and ladies’ versions of the same model are treated as separate types for type approval purposes. Thus, the overall cost of getting one model of bicycle approved may be some multiple of that figure. However, the costs of type approval do not add significantly to the overall purchase price to the consumer – one manufacturer estimated that type approval added only €8 per vehicle sold. More important than the economic cost of the process was the incompatibility of the business model of many PMD manufacturers and importers who have a short design cycle, often releasing new models every year and a diversified supply chain that has been developed to ensure resilience and redundancy so that component availability never stops production. This approach is fundamentally at odds with the type-approval system which requires design-freeze at the point of assessment and robust conformity of production throughout the product’s lifecycle. Clearly some middle ground needs to be found that ensures the safety and environmental sustainability of PMDs while acknowledging the differences in business approach between the PMD and automotive industries. An approach that is proportional to the level of risk resulting from potential technical failures should be devised.

    The issue of type-approval

    We find it utterly illogical for TRL to conclude one thing for EPACs and something completely different for current L1e-A vehicles and cycles designed to pedal up to 45 km/h, such as speed pedelecs. All the above is equally valid for all those “pedal cycle derived vehicles”, which are now in type-approval.

    The issue of the type-approval system is mainly to do with the fact that conventional mopeds and motorcycles are made up of components that are specifically designed for these vehicles and “pedal cycle derived vehicles” not. These are assemblies for components that may be used in different types of vehicles both in and out of type-approval. This shows that the TRL-study fails to meet one of the 5 predefined objectives: to provide a detailed analysis of the of the influence of existing legislation at EU level. The report does not say a word about the technical inappropriateness and inaccuracy of type-approval for light, electric vehicles. The proposal for repurposing L1e-A is therefore fundamentally unfounded. All arguments to set up dedicated legislation for LEVs up to 30 km/h are equally as valid for LEVs up to 50 km/h. LEVA-EU will continue to work for this.

    Factor 4

    One last important footnote: TRL proposes to get rid of assistance factor 4, should L1e-A be repurposed for vehicles up to 45 km/h and 1,000 W. That power limit “would provide sufficient differentiation from L1e-B.” To LEVA-EU this means exchanging one superfluous obstacle for another. The fact that TRL fails to acknowledge the huge damage caused to the LEV-sector by clinging to maximum continuous rated power limits is further proof of the fact that their analysis of the influence of existing legislation is failing.

    Finally, we hope that the European Commission will read the latest edition of “Science for Environment Policy”. A study on material efficiency strategies concludes: “the current demand level of personal motorized transport is compatible with ambitious climate targets only under two major conditions: (1) consumers must switch to more energy- and material-efficient vehicles, for example, smaller or shared electrified vehicles, and (2) the energy used to charge these vehicles must be highly decarbonized.” They add that policy incentives will be required in order to nudge consumers toward more efficient behaviour. Specific LEV-legislation that allows the market to develop is one of those required policy incentives.

    Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

  3. Second TRL-survey on-line

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    The second TRL on-line survey for their study on safety requirements for LEVs is online until 4th January.

    At the request of the European Commission, TRL is carrying out a study aimed at identifying the minimum safety requirements for safe use of light, electric vehicles on public roads. The study is also meant to assist the Commission in possible changes of vehicle categorization and technical requirements in the L-category. LEVA-EU welcomes this initiative since the trade association has been consistently arguing that current type-approval needs a fundamental change. The legislation creates huge bottlenecks for light, electric vehicles.

    A first on-line survey for the study took place in October. TRL has now launched a second survey, in which they ask to rate a range of potential regulatory measures. The survey will be online until 4th January.

    If you haven’t received a direct email from TRL inviting you to complete the survey and you wish to do so, please contact Rosie Sharp at TRL, rsharp@trl.co.uk.

    In October, LEVA-EU has organized a series of on-line meetings to provide LEV-companies with a better understanding of the current legislation and the problems resulting from those rules. The presentations and on-line recordings of these meetings are available upon simple request to daan@leva-eu.com. There were 4 meetings, respectively on:

    • E-bikes & Speed Pedelecs
    • E-cargobiles
    • PLEVs
    • 3- & 4-Wheels

    In the framework of this ongoing review, LEVA-EU has proposed to introduce the concept of Zero-Tailpipe Emission (ZEV) vehicles to allow all light, electric vehicles to enjoy the same commercial success as electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 25W. Further details on this proposal are here: https://leva-eu.com/leva-eu-proposes-zev-concept-for-light-electric-vehicles-to-give-manufacturers-same-commercial-success-as-e-bikes/

    After this second on-line survey, TRL will organize in January an on-line workshop, in which they will discuss a shortlist of potential measures with the LEVA-sector. The study is expected to be completed by February 2021.

  4. 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 iguy@trl.co.uk – tel. +44 [0]1344 770 084 – mobile +44 [0]7436 270343


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