Manufacturing News

China to regulate inexpensive low-speed electric cars

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

Electric vehicles that have a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour are currently exempt from registration. That 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 don't apply to these mini vehicles.

Most of China's larger cities have strict regulations for allowing motorcycles on their roads. 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 such as Loncin Motor Co. and Tianneng Power International Ltd. Loncin sells low-speed EVs, while Tianneng Power is the biggest supplier of batteries for low-speed EVs in China.

Miao, who was speaking on Saturday after a meeting at the National People's Congress in Beijing, did not indicate 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.

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.

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