Series Hybrids now Classified as EPACs

LEVA-EU, a non-profit organization based in Belgium, works as an advocate on behalf of Light Electric Vehicles. LEVs are a term that “covers all-electric vehicles designed for on-road use listed in the L-category.” The company is heavily involved in legislation within the European Union whilst promoting alternative forms of transportation, such as electric scooters and e-bikes.

Earlier this week, LEVA-EU announced an obstacle the EPAC bike faced a few years ago. An Electric Pedal Assisted Cycle, or EPAC, is a bike fitted with special pedals which are used to propel the rider forward, often with the assistance of an electric motor. It typically has a maximum of 25 km/h and 250W. The difference between an EPAC and a Series Hybrid is their drive system. A Series Hybrid has no mechanical chain and instead propels forward with the energy exerted from the pedal generator to the motor.

In 2018, German e-bike dealers were given a warning from Kraftfahrt Bundesambt (KBA), the official German approval authority, stating that if sellers were to continue selling certain e-bikes without a chain and categorized them as “EPAC”, they could potentially receive a € 5,000 fine. This news came at a time when the Dutch approval authority, or RDW, released a formal statement confirming that they do consider a bike that is outfitted with a Series Hybrid to be an EPAC. Meanwhile, additional companies began developing the Series Hybrid system, discovering the pros outweigh the cons. Specifically, due to the SH system having “less wear and maintenance costs,” this in turn allowed for reduced maintenance and service fees. Furthermore, this led to a better accommodation of riders who exhibit specific needs that the Series Hybrid offers, such as elderly or handicapped individuals. 

With all these signs of progress in the EPAC drive system, the news of the possible € 5,000 penalty was even more upsetting. Initially, after this announcement in 2018, a meeting with the European Commission commenced yet resulted in no change. However, LEVA-EU persisted in working to ensure Series Hybrid systems were covered by ISO, CEN, and IEC standards. Near the end of 2021, LEVA-EU requested another meeting with the Commission, stating that the legal status of the Series Hybrid was acting as a major barrier concerning customers and/or investors.

Along with the help of at least twelve members standing on the side of the Series Hybrid, LEVA-EU appealed Regulation 168/2013 whilst explaining in explicit detail its market potential along with the technical aspects of the system. Subsequently, the Commission met with the EU Member States forum for the “Exchange of Information on Enforcement.” Soon after, the Commission published an update of Regulation 168/2013 per the requirements that pedal bicycles must meet.

In conclusion, the Commission confirmed just last week that e-bikes equipped with Series Hybrid systems are indeed categorized as EPACs, and therefore excluded from Regulation 168/2013, Article 2.2(h). This recent change in regulation from the Commission is truly a major stepping stone on behalf of Series Hybrids, customers, and investors.