LEVA-EU Unveils New ZEV Concept

Annick Roetynck, LEVA-EU Manager.

European light electric vehicle trade association, LEVA-EU, has unveiled proposals to introduce a new concept for light electric vehicles to remove legal bottlenecks it says are blighting the industry.

The organization says bringing in the concept of Zero Tailpipe Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) would finally set them apart from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles such as petrol motorbikes and mopeds when it comes to the lengthy legislation that can be difficult for manufacturers to navigate.

EVA-EU proposes to define ZEVs as “powered vehicles equipped with a motor that does not produce harmful tailpipe emissions”.

Current regulations class all light electric vehicles, except electric bicycles with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and 250W, in the same category as mopeds and motorbikes. This law, Regulation 168/2013, leaves manufacturers forced to navigate complicated and costly procedures, and presents considerable safety issues for riders. LEVA-EU says that, as a result, this market is not allowed to develop and LEVs are unable to achieve their potential.

LEVA-EU has developed a proposal aimed at simplifying the current Regulation 168/2013 in a major way. The proposal focuses on classifying ZEVs based on kinetic energy, that is the energy of mass in motion (i.e. weight X speed). Consequently, all low-speed ZEVs up to a certain weight and speed limit could be excluded from Regulation 168/2013, with exclusion limits to be discussed with the LEV- industry.

Exclusion from Regulation 168/2013 means that the vehicles automatically come under the Machinery Directive, which in turn, allows the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) to develop technical standards. Instead of type-approval, manufacturers can comply with this legislation by means of self-certification or certification by a freely chosen testing service. For type-approval, they must seek certification from an officially accredited testing service.

LEVA-EU points out that there are already several standards, both published and under development, that could accommodate many of the to be excluded ZEVs. E-bikes with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h -250W have benefited from exclusion since 2002, which has seen millions of them take to the streets without any structural safety problems.

The organization says that for ZEVs above the set speed and weight limit, discussions would be needed as to whether a specific type approval should be drawn up or whether they should also be excluded, bringing them under the Machinery Directive.

At a LEVA-EU seminar in February 2020, speed pedelec manufacturers extensively testified before the European Commission on the huge difficulties they encounter due to type approval. Speed pedelecs are categorized as L1e-B, mopeds.

LEVA-EU then decided to add pressure on the European Union in an open letter, urging it to match green transport rhetoric with action on LEVs, which led to the Commission’s review and TRL’s announcement in July.

LEVA-EU has pledged to intensify its campaign for the proposed changes over the coming weeks and months. Roetynck added: “Without such change, the EU will never be able to achieve its Green Deal’s objectives, which include a 90% GHG emission reduction by 2050.

More information is available on the LEVA-EU website.