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ETRA clears hurdle to ease E-bike regs

Published December 12, 2011

GENT, Belgium (BRAIN)—The trade group that represents European bicycle dealers won a small victory in its push to relax regulations for electric bicycles.

The European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection adopted a report last week that would effectively widen the market for e-bike sales by easing some regulations, as lobbied for by the European TwoWheelers Retailers’ Association (ETRA) for the past two years.

The vote means pedelecs with assistance of up to 25 kilometers per hour without specification of motor output limit would be excluded from complicated and expensive type-approval procedures and classified as bicycles instead of mopeds. This could help develop the market for pedelecs with a motor output greater than 250 watts.

According to ETRA, 95 percent of Europe’s e-bike market consists of bikes with assistance of up to 25 kilometers per hour and 250 watt motors. But the market for higher motor output pedelecs is not developing because of constricting regulations.

“Today pedelecs with assistance up to 25 km/h are excluded from the type-approval, provided that their motor output is limited to 250 watts. Any pedelec with a higher motor output is subject to the current type-approval procedure and is consequently categorized as a moped. Exclusion of this category from the type-approval will make it a lot easier and a lot cheaper to develop vehicles with a higher motor output for instance to carry cargo or to be used in hilly areas,” ETRA said in a press release.

The European bicycle manufacturer organization Colibi/Coliped has lobbied against the proposed changes, saying that for safety’s sake more powerful pedelecs should have stricter regulations.

Also excluded from type approval would be bicycles with an auxiliary motor that can propel the bike even if a rider is not pedaling, provided the bike’s speed is limited to 25 kilometers per hour and weighs less than 25 kilograms.

The vote marks the first major hurdle cleared for ETRA, but the report still needs to be voted on in plenary, probably next March. Also, Council, which groups the 27 European Union member states, has to mark its agreement. In the meantime, ETRA, and presumably Colibi/Coliped continue lobbying.

—Nicole Formosa

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