Vehicle categorisation and related legislation
Electric bicycle and/or LEV (Light Electric Vehicle of weight less than or equal to 400 kg) is a term, which covers two different concepts of vehicles with an auxiliary electric motor:
1) cycles equipped with an auxiliary motor that cannot be exclusively propelled by that motor. Only when the cyclist pedals, does the motor assist. These vehicles are generally called pedelecs.
2) cycles equipped with an auxiliary electric motor that can be exclusively propelled by that motor. The cyclist is not necessarily required to pedal. These vehicles are generally called E-bikes.
Pedelecs and E-bikes are not always two-wheeled. There are also vehicles with 3 wheels. Legal definitions have the term “cycles” in order to cover all vehicles, irrespective of their number of wheels. Article 1 (h) of Directive 2002/24/EC relating to the type-approval of two or three-wheel motor vehicles legislation stipulates that the Directive does not apply to: “cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h, or sooner, if the cyclist stops pedalling”. As a result of this exclusion, member states should classify these vehicles as bicycles.
Pedal assisted cycles with a maximum continuous rated power of more than 0.25 kW and E-bikes that can be exclusively propelled by the motor do fall within the scope of Directive 2002/24/EC. In this Directive they are classified as low-performance mopeds, i.e. vehicles with pedals, with an auxiliary engine of power not exceeding 1 kW and a maximum design speed not exceeding 25 km/h. As a result, they have to be type-approved but they are excluded from a number of type-approval requirements as listed in Annex I of Directive 2002/24/EC. The note to Annex I sums up the excluded requirements. Pedal assisted cycles with a motor assisting beyond 25 km/h and E-bikes with a maximum design speed exceeding 25 km/h are classified as conventional mopeds and have to be type-approved accordingly. In all member states moped classification brings along compulsory wear of a helmet, insurance and an age limit. In some case, it also involves a number plate and a driving license.
The European Commission is reviewing Directive 2002/24/EC. In that framework, the European Twowheel Retailers’ Association (ETRA) has submitted a proposal aimed at improving the legislation related to electric cycles. For cycles with pedal assistance excluded from the Directive, ETRA proposes to increase the motor output from 0.25 kW to 0.50 kW. The current limit proves to be insufficient for instance for electric cycles used in hilly areas, for obese people, for three-wheelers, cargo bikes, etc. The proposed increase is to ensure that the cycles perform at the required level in all circumstances so that the cyclist enjoys optimum safety and comfort. The full text of the proposal is published at http://www.etra- eu.com/docs/CategorisationProposal.pdf.
Legal situation in Austria
In Austria electric bicycles are regarded as bicycles if
1) their power does not exceed 600 Watt and
2) their design speed does not exceed 25 km/h.
In Austrian law there is no difference between a pedelec - the motor starts when the pedals are moved - and an e-bike - the bike moves even without pedalling.
Indication of sources you find under: "Legal situation on pedelecs in Austria"