China Working on Regulations for Low-Speed Electric Vehicles

  • Low-speed EVs are popular in rural areas, smaller cities
  • Crash tests, safety standards don't apply to these vehicles

China is working on regulations for low-speed electric vehicles, including possibly classifying them as motorcycles, according to Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei.

Electric vehicles that have a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour (43 miles per hour) are currently exempt from registration, which has spawned a class of cheap battery-powered cars popular in China’s rural areas and smaller towns and cities. Crash-testing and other safety standards also don’t apply to these mini vehicles.

Most of China’s larger cities have strict regulations for allowing motorcycles on their roads, meaning that classifying low-speed EVs as two-wheelers would effectively restrict them to the lesser-developed areas where they’re popular. Setting standards for these vehicles would also give them legitimacy, boosting prospects for manufacturers and battery suppliers such as Loncin Motor Co. and Tianneng Power International Ltd.

Miao, who was speaking on Saturday after a meeting at the National People’s Congress in Beijing, didn’t give a timeline for when the regulations will be introduced. Delegates to the annual legislative meetings that opened in the past week have proposed that low-speed EVs be regulated as they are popular with consumers and represent an upgrade from battery-powered bicycles.

Loncin, a manufacturer of low-speed EVs, rose 2.4 percent in Shanghai trading, outpacing the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index’s 0.8 percent gain. Tianneng Power, the biggest supplier of batteries for low-speed EVs in China, rose as much as 2.8 percent in Hong Kong trading.

The government should set rules instead restricting low-speed EVs because they’re affordable for the public, especially in rural areas, Tianneng Power Chairman Zhang Tianren said in an interview in Beijing on Monday.

— With assistance by Tian Ying

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