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Speed Pedelecs Prone to Costly Type Approval & Homologation Regulations

AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands – All e-bikes fitted with more powerful electric motors than 250 Watt will likely be faced with very costly type approval & homologation procedures before they can enter the European Union’s markets in 2012. An interview with Wim van de Camp (photo), rapporteur of the European Parliament on new e-bike regulations, makes this very clear.

All companies currently working on new speed pedelec models should be aware of what’s coming as it will have a huge impact on the business models for such electric bikes. Type-approval is what’s coming. And not only that, but a type-approval procedure that is not focused on down-to-earth bikes but on much more sophisticated powered two-wheelers coming from the likes as Honda, Yamaha or BMW.

It is expected that at the upcoming Eurobike show new speed pedelec models will be presented in big numbers. They were suddenly there at the Friedrichshafen show of 2010 and attracted lots of attention. More is to come. Like for instance from German bike maker Winora who presented its sportive e-bike line including models fitted with 350 Watt motors mid June.

The European Parliament is preparing new legislation on the type approval and market surveillance of two and three wheeled vehicles and will vote on it next November. Whether this new legislation might include Speed pedelecs is the question now as well as whether speed pedelecs have to comply with regulations targeted to mopeds and scooters rather than bicycles? Or will the European Union create an all new category for speed pedelecs?

On the question: ‘What is your opinion about European standardization for self certification combined with the safety requirements of the Machinery Directive verse type approval?’; Van de Camp answered: “To keep things clear, as much as possible Powered Two-Wheeler’s should be included in one overall regulation.”

Bike Europe also asked: ‘In the debate on the revision of this type approval, the safety aspect is subject to intense discussion. How can legislation which is not technically suited to electric vehicles result in vehicles, produced so that they guarantee maximum safety? And otherwise, how can maintaining a power limit that has no bearing on the speed of the vehicle ensure this safety?’ Van de Camp answered: “This regulation is meant to prevent the possibility, that in the future too powerful electric bicycles somehow ‘escape’ the application for type approval. This worries me as I already said in my previous answer.” 

Bike Europe also asked: ‘Type approval of speed pedelecs is expected to lead to significant problems in terms of components. Manufacturers and dealers will be faced with the fact that for maintenance and repair of one model only homologated (considerably more expensive) parts have to be used, while similar, not homologated (considerably cheaper), components can be used for other, almost identical models. In your opinion, what is the best way to deal with this problem?’

Van de Camp answered: “I expect the industry will be able to handle this. Consumer protection is of more importance; especially the senior consumer has a right on protection. Access to vehicle repair and maintenance information will be guaranteed, also for the smaller dealer.”

The complete interview with the rapporteur of the European Parliament on new e-bike regulations is in Bike Europe’s June/July edition with publication date June 28.





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