Europe: Avere warns for illegal electric bicycles as new type- approval enters into force on 1 st January

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Europe: Avere warns for illegal electric bicycles as new type- approval enters into force on 1 st January

I just received the following press release from AVERE, one of the electric vehicle associations in Europe.

The definite application of the new type-approval system for electric bicycles is only a few weeks away. As of 1st January 2017, all new types of vehicles may only be type-approved on the basis of the Regulation 168/2013. From that date onwards, type-approval based on Directive 2002/24 will no longer be allowed. In the meantime, AVERE, the European association for electromobility, warns for the threat posed by electric bicycles, which are being sold without being type-approved.

Type-approval is a legal obligation for all electric bicycles except those with pedal assistance up to 25 km/h and a maximum continuous rated power of 250W. Bicycles with a maximum speed of 25 km/h and a power above 250W come under the type-approval in category L1e-A “powered cycles”, those with a speed above 25 km/h fall into category L1e-B “mopeds”. This is for instance the case for so-called speed pedelecs.

Type-approval is a legal obligation as a result of which the manufacturer has to have his vehicle type approved by a ‘technical service’. This is an organisation or a body accredited by the type-approval authority of a Member State as a testing laboratory, which is entitled to carry out the tests prescribed by the type-approval legislation in order to establish that the type complies with the law.

Type-approval does not only concern the vehicle as a whole but also many of its components. Consequently, if the manufacturer changes a component, which is regulated by type-approval by a different component, the approval of the original type is no longer valid and the manufacturer has to go through type-approval again. Also, retailers are not entitled to replace type-approved by non-type-approved or different components. They may only use identical type-approved components.

Once a vehicle type is approved, the manufacturer has to issue a “Certificate of Conformity” (COC), which has to be handed over to the consumer when the vehicle is being sold. The consumer needs this COC, for instance to obtain a numberplate for his vehicle. Also, the police is entitled to check the COC to establish whether the vehicle is legal.

Type-approval already applies to electric bicycles since 2003. Electric bicycles, which before the 31st December 2016 have been type-approved according Directive 2002/24, may still be sold. Their  type-approval remains valid until the manufacturer ends the production of the specific vehicle type. If the manufacturer brings a new type of vehicle on the market after 1st January 2017, this must be type-approved according to the legislation set out by Regulation 168/2013.

However, with the growing success of so-called speed pedelecs, it becomes apparent that quite a few electric bicycles have been sold without being type-approved. What’s more, manufacturers continue to sell electric bicycles, that should be type-approved, without COC simply because they have not been type-approved.

This is totally illegal and can have very grave consequences for the manufacturer, importer, distributor, dealer, etc. A number of countries, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, have recently taken initiatives to sort out the legal problems involving so-called speed pedelecs. One issue being that the vehicles have to be registered and fitted with a number plate. However, this is only possible if the consumer can present a COC.

In many cases, the consumers simply don’t have a COC and manufacturers/distributors/retailers play dumb. These consumers have the right to hold them responsible for selling an illegal vehicle. They are entitled to demand for the manufacturer to take back the vehicle and ask for compensation. Alternatively, the manufacturer can still take measures to remedy his breach of the law.

AVERE LEV-TF believes that the sales of illegal electric bicycles may eventually put off consumers, thus jeopardize this promising market. That is why AVERE LEV-TF continuously informs the LEV-sector on this issue and assists companies with advice and concrete answers to their questions.


For further details, please contact AVERE LEV-TF Policy Manager, Annick Roetynck, tel. +32 9 233 60 05, email annick.roetynck [at]

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