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Switzerland ups power limit on e-bikes

Published April 26, 2012

BRUSSELS, Belgium (BRAIN) Thursday April 26 2012 4:44 PM MT—E-bikes with a motor output of up to 500 watts and pedal assistance of up to 25 kilometers will now be classified as bicycles instead of mopeds in Switzerland.

The move is a win for the European TwoWheel Retailers’ Association (ETRA), which has been lobbying the European Parliament to loosen restrictions in order to open up the market to more e-bikes. Currently, European legislation limits power output to 250 watts for a pedelec to be considered a bicycle. Vehicles with a motor output between 500 and 1,000 watts and/or assistance up to 45 kilometers per hour are considered mopeds and carry more stringent and expensive regulations before they can be sold in shops. In many countries, riders must also have a license and insurance and wear a helmet to drive a moped.

Austria is the only other EU country that has relaxed the EU requirements. There, pedelecs with a speed limit of 25 kilometers per hour and a motor output up to 600 watts are still considered bicycles.

Colibi/Coliped the trade association representing European manufacturers and assemblers, has lobbied against changing existing e-bike regulations, saying that bike lanes and bicycles are not designed for safe use over 25 kilometers per hour, and e-bikes of different speeds sharing the same bike lanes can be potentially dangerous.

The European Parliament is expected to decide this year on whether to allow higher motor output e-bikes to be marketed and sold as bicycles. Late last year, the Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection voted to accept ETRA’s proposal, but it still needs to be voted on in plenary, and the EU Council representing all 27 member states has to agree to the changes as well.

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