EU is holding back e-bike innovation, claims ETRA

European Twowheel Retailers' Association wants Euro standards to allow for faster, more powerful e-bikes.
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On 4th October, the European Commission proposed a draft regulation for the review of the type-approval for two- and three-wheel motor vehicles. The draft text also concerns electric cycles and light electric vehicles, but, according to ETRA, "does not offer a good solution for these vehicles."

According to ETRA, the European Commission's draft regulation "creates even more confusion than the current legislation."

'Type approval' is the way e-bikes, for instance, are classified as bicycles and not mopeds or motorbikes. Type approval vehicles have to be registered, licensed and pay vehicle taxes; bicycles do not.

The EU wants to have a clearly defined speed and wattage, above which e-bikes become mopeds or motorbikes. ETRA disagrees with the limits set by the EU. Some ETRA members believe faster, more powerful e-bikes are what European consumers want.

The draft text is now in the first stage of legislative process in the European Parliament. In an attempt to modify the Commission's proposed legislation ETRA has today submitted its recommendations [PDF]. It wants e-bikes to be allowed to go faster then 25kmh and to have higher wattage than 250W.

ETRA is the European professional association for independent bicycle, moped and motorcycle retailers.

ETRA members have until 6th January to send in comments and further input. In a telephone conference on 6th January, ETRA will give its members further clarification and reply to questions. ETRA is expected to submit the revised proposal on 10th January. 

The draft text is based upon the exclusion of all cycles with pedal assistance up to 25 kmh in order to allow CEN to amend EN 15194, the current e-bike standard. This would exempt these vehicles from the type-approval procedure and they would be classified as bicycles. 

As for the pedal-assisted cycles up to 45 kmh, cycles that can be propelled by the motor itself and all other light electric vehicles would still be subject to type-approval but the procedure would be adapted to these vehicles, said a statement from ETRA.

The draft document from the European Commission excludes a number of vehicles from type approval, including "vehicles intended for use by the physically handicapped (ie electric trikes); "vehicles intended for use by the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, civil defence services, fire brigades or public works bodies"; and "vehicles primarily intended for off-road use and designed to travel on unpaved surfaces" (which classifies powerful, fast electric mountain bikes as bicycles, a strange move given the number of motorbike-like MTBs now appearing).

According to ETRA, the European Commission did not grant ETRA’s request - said to be supported by more than 70 companies in the electric cycle sector – to exclude pedal assisted cycles up to 25kmh and 500W. As a result a 300W and 25kmh city bike will be subject to the type-approval. However, claims ETRA, the EU's rule-makers haven't been consistent in what is and isn't a bicycle: a pedal-assisted mountain bike with assistance up to 45kmh and 500W motor output will not be subject to type-approval, says ETRA.

According to the Brussels-based lobbying group, the EU's proposed framework regulation will "obstruct the market development of electric cycles and innovative light electric vehicles."

ETRA doesn't like the existing or proposed e-bike rules and claims this is detrimental to the European bicycle industry (a view not shared by all bicycle companies or organisations):

"Electrically assisted cycles with a motor output of 250W and assistance up to 25kmh alone are not sufficient to realise the full market potential of electric cycles and light electric vehicles. This obstruction goes against the interest of ETRA’s members as well as against the interest of the light electric vehicle sector in general. Finally, it also goes against the interest of European citizens, because it obstructs their options for sustainable mobility," said a strident ETRA.

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