BEIJING – The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a notice on October 25 reiterating that low-speed electric vehicles (LSEV) will be treated as a special type of motor vehicles rather than motorcycles.
The notice was issued in response to a proposal on the administration of four-wheel LSEVs in accordance with motorcycle-related standards put forth by 32 NPC members including Dong Shuming during the Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress held in March.
MIIT said in the notice that LSEVs are difficult to administer because of their unique features and that relevant departments are developing national standards for these vehicles with a focus on the administration of concepts of “upgrading a batch, standardizing a batch and eliminating a batch.”
MIIT and relevant departments submitted a Request for Instructions on Relevant Issues Regarding the Administration of Low-Speed Electric Vehicles to the State Council in August 2015 suggesting the “Three batch” administration approach.
The “upgrading a batch” has already established a channel while specific policy measures for “standardizing a batch” and “eliminating a batch” are still being ironed out. MIIT’s stance is: first, speed up the formulation of product and technology standards for low-speed electric vehicles; second, strengthen supervision and administration of conformity of production of LSEVs and put them into the administration of Catalogue of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Their Products; third, finalize operational administration of LSEVs such as formulating standards on license plates, registration, driving certification and relevant taxes and fees; fourth, formulate local administrative methods on LSEVs and enact local restrictions on the use of LSEVs. Vehicles that are not up to standard will be treated with relevant measures.
MIIT believes LSEVs are special types of motor vehicles and should be classified based on exterior dimensions, weights, driving power, passenger capacity, safety standards and vehicle administration models because of their positioning as micro vehicle used for short-distance, in low-speed and special road conditions. MIIT proposes that these vehicles use power batteries with high technology performance and low pollution. For LSEVs that do not meet relevant standards, MIIT suggests that they be eliminated gradually through trade-ins, repurchases and scrappage.
MIIT is currently drafting a national standard on four-wheel LSEVs with the relevant departments, which will give clear classification of the relevant vehicle type and technology specification of LSEVs.
In October 2016, the national standard was officially initiated and is expected to come into effect in late 2018. According to Dong Yang, the leader of the standard’s drafting group and executive vice president of China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), major difficulties in establishing a national standard for low-speed EVs do not lie in the methods, but in the competition between various interests, especially the interests of local governments.
In late September, the national standard draft was unofficially leaked. According to the leaked draft, production requirements for four-wheel LSEVs include: length, width and height should be less than 3,500, 1,500 and 1,700 mm respectively; speed should range from 40-70 km/h with the vehicle weight no more than 750 kg; power batteries should not exceed 30 percent of the vehicle weight and should use lithium batteries, supporting battery packs and battery management systems; collision standards need to meet ordinary passenger vehicle standards GB11551 (the protection of the occupants in the event of a frontal collision for passenger car), GB20071 (the protection of the occupants in the event of a lateral collision), and GB/T31498 (the safety requirement of electric vehicles post-crash).
LSEVs include electric bicycles, electric motorcycles, electric tricycles and low-speed electric cars. Generally, they refer to those that run at speeds of less than 70 km/h, cost ¥4,000-¥50,000, and have similar exteriors, structures and functionalities as fuel-powered cars.
For a long time, LSEVs have usually been a means of transportation for the elderly and used as a tool for short trips especially in rural areas. They do not require automobile insurance or a driver’s license, and are widely criticized for occupying roads and irregular usage, in addition to having potential safety hazards due to their low prices and relatively poor production processes.