Proposals for new ZEV concept presented to European Commission

Trade association LEVA-EU has laid out in full and presented to the European Commission its proposals for a new legal classification of light electric vehicles.

The organisation has also called for better representation for Zero Tailpipe Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), the new concept of vehicles it has proposed, in a bid to remove legal bottlenecks it says are ‘blighting’ the industry.

LEVA-EU defines a Zero Tailpipe Emission Vehicle as “a powered vehicle equipped with a motor that does not produce harmful tailpipe emissions”. These vehicles are subject to European legislation, Regulation 168/2013, that was originally designed for petrol engine mopeds and motorcycles, or to the Machinery
Directive aimed at machines with the exclusion of vehicles.

The association has proposed to add an article to Regulation 168/2013, excluding ZEVs with a maximum design speed not exceeding 50 km/h and to also exclude all ZEVs from the Machinery Directive. As a result, this legal intervention would exclude all types of electric cycles, cargo-cycles, e-scooters, monowheels, e-hoverboards, self-balancing vehicles and any other Zero Tailpipe Emission Vehicle not yet mentioned explicitly in law today from the current legal framework.

Instead, LEVA-EU is proposing to transfer ZEVs into a new horizontal Vehicle Regulation. This European law would specify essential safety requirements to be complemented with harmonised standards and possibly, for certain ZEV-categories, type-approval procedures. In any case, LEVA-EU believes that the form of the legislative framework needs to be decided in consultation with the ZEV-sector.

The measures, which also include a new way to regulate speed and a simple categorisation based on speed and weight only, are detailed in a position paper the body has submitted to the European Commission.

LEVA-EU Manager Annick Roetynck said bringing in the concept of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) would set them apart from vehicles such as petrol engine motorbikes and mopeds, when it comes to the ‘lengthy, inaccurate’ legislation manufacturers must navigate. She said: “The ZEV concept covers all light, electric vehicles and allows for much simpler, more accurate and future-proof rules. LEVA-EU has also submitted the paper to TRL in the framework of their ongoing study for the European Commission, into possible legislative reviews for the benefit of ZEVs. They will complete their study this month.

“LEVA-EU insists that speed and weight limits must be set in consultation with the ZEV sector. Because the voice of the sector is drowned out by the voice of parties who consider ZEVs an existential threat, from which they must protect their business, the Commission has not yet entered into an in-depth dialogue with the sector. LEVA-EU calls on the Commission to no longer postpone that consultation.”

In the document, LEVA-EU is also calling for all infrastructure, such as cycle paths, cycle streets, cycle highways and cycle parking, to be renamed as ZEV infrastructure. Traffic signs, it said, should also reflect ZEVs, a measure it believes would improve cyclists’ and motorists’ perception of ZEVs.

LEVA-EU is also proposing some changes to the terms of use for ZEVs, including that speed limits by design must no longer be used to regulate traffic. Just as is the case for all other vehicles (except conventional mopeds), traffic speed must be regulated by local speed limitations decided by traffic management authorities, the association said.

The paper also urges the Commission to take an initiative aimed at organising consultation between member states on terms of use for ZEVs. Roetynck added: “This will definitely contribute to raising awareness of member states on ZEVs as well as to exchanging best practice. That will, in turn speed up the adaptation of traffic rules and road infrastructure to ZEVs and allow them to realise their full potential, thus making a huge contribution to the objectives of the Green Deal.”

The full position paper on the review of Regulation 168/2013 is available here: https://bit.ly/36SrBwv. The position paper on the review of the Machinery Directive can be found here: https://bit.ly/2Nc97Aj.

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