BRUSSELS Belgium – It’s not finalized yet, but there may be a breakthrough in the European discussion on the technical rules for electric bicycles. It could mean among other things that pedelecs with assistance up to 25 km/h will be excluded from the type-approval for mopeds and motorcycles irrespective of their power output. As a result, they would be classified as bicycles, whereas today above 250 W they are considered mopeds.
Yesterday, the European Parliament Commission for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) voted on the review of the type-approval of mopeds and motorcycles. The MPE’s voted on Rapporteur van de Camp’s report on the Commission’s proposal as well as on all the amendments to his report. Quite a few of these amendments originated from the position paper of the European Two-Wheelers Retailers’ Association (ETRA).
They were generally aimed at improving the regulations for the benefit of electric bikes so that they would no longer obstruct the development of the market. One of the amendments in particular was aimed at the exclusion from the type-approval of all electric pedal assisted cycles with assistance up to 25 km/h without specification of a motor output limit, because speed and not power is the determining safety factor.
A majority of IMCO members voted in favour of this exclusion. As a result, pedelecs with a motor output of more than 250 W would no longer have to be type-approved and would no longer be classified as mopeds but as bicycles. They would become subject to the Machinery and EMC Directive. This should result in a bigger offer and a wider usage for instance for people suffering from obesity, three-wheelers developed for physically impaired people, vehicles developed to transport cargo of for hilly areas etcetera.
The revision of the type approval for mopeds and motorcycles including electric bicycles caused controversy between industry associations COLIBI/COLIPED and the one for cyclists ECF on the one hand and trade association ETRA on the other hand. COLIBI/COLIPED and ECF wanted to make sure that the market remains limited to bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and a motor output limit of 250W. Both industry organizations were in favour of maintaining the current specifications as described in the Directive 2002/24/EC.
“Terrific news,” said Annick Roetynck, ETRA general secretary on the breakthrough in ‘BOVAGkrant’, a publication of the Dutch dealer association BOVAG which is a prominent ETRA member. She continued: “We had to lobby hard for this result the past months. I am glad that the politicians understood that more powerful motors of which the assistance is limited to a speed of 25 km/h, do not jeopardize safety but instead greatly enhance the possible usage of electric bikes.”
As said 25 km/h pedelecs with more motor output are not a reality yet. In a plenary session scheduled to take place in March 2012 the whole European Parliament will vote on it. Furthermore, the European Council, which is made up of the 27 member states also have to have a say on it.