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Micro-Mobility position on EU Battery Regulation

Introduction

Micro-Mobility for Europe (MMfE) welcomes the overall objectives of the proposal for a Battery Regulation put forward by the European Commission in December 2020. Our sector fully supports the need to accelerate the transition towards a more electrified transport system as clearly stated by the first recital of the proposal: “A shift from the use of fossil fuels in vehicles to electromobility is one of the prerequisites for reaching the climate neutrality goal in 2050”. The importance of the announcement of the Commission regarding the modernisation of EU legislation on batteries was underlined by the fact that the European Commission listed it among the actions in its new Circular Economy Action Plan. Micro-Mobility for Europe believes, as well as the European Commission, that more sustainable batteries throughout their life cycle are essential in achieving the decarbonisation of the transport sector, and the EU economy as a whole.

We believe shared micro-mobility solutions have the potential to generate a modal shift away from car trips to more sustainable modes, and complement public transportation, which will ultimately reduce GHG emissions and increase quality of life in urban areas. To support this vision, Europe needs a robust, coherent and clear regulatory framework around batteries. Batteries are essential for micro-mobility solutions that support the EU’s decarbonisation objectives, which is why MMfE fully supports the inclusion of specific provisions for batteries for ‘light means of transport’ such as e-scooters.

However, we have noticed with concern some inconsistencies in the proposal and misunderstandings about where the light electric vehicle industry is and where it is going. In order to safeguard the European Commission’s goals of increased safety and sustainability for batteries, while integrating coherently with the way light means of transport are evolving today, we wanted to share further insights about how the shared micro-mobility industry uses batteries today and may use them tomorrow. We believe these insights can help both the European Commission and, more particularly, co-legislators (European Parliament and Council) to review the current proposal for a coherent, accurate and future-proof framework on batteries in Europe.

The use of batteries in shared micro-mobility applications

Batteries used in e-scooters and other micro-mobility vehicles have undergone a huge development. Today most companies operating shared e-scooters undergo strict scrutiny by local governments regulated through licenses or tender agreements. That means all members of the coalition work to understand and limit environmental impact by optimising disposal, second life and recycling of batteries.

Battery production is one of the most carbon-intensive parts of e-scooter manufacturing, which in turn contributes the most to an e-scooter’s overall lifetime emissions. According to the latest reports on the environmental impact of e-scooters, their life cycle is highly impacted by the material used to manufacture the vehicles (incl. the battery). The use of raw material contributes to between 68% and 90% of their total carbon footprint. Proper disposal and recycling represent an environmental challenge, and our members have been working with first class recycling partners for responsible disposal and recycling to minimise this impact, adapting to various circumstances. According to the EIT MOBY report, future developments, especially in battery management and recycling processes, will substantially reduce the environmental impact of e-scooters.

Most e-scooters run on some type of lithium-ion batteries of capacity between 300 Wh and up to approximately 1500 Wh and have a battery pack composed of individual cells and electronics grouped in a battery management system. E-scooter battery technology is chosen for its light weight, its performance and long lifespan. For the purpose of the EU Battery Regulation, it is also important to note that the same battery pack can be used interchangeably for an e-scooter or an e-bike.

E-scooter and micro-mobility manufacturers have taken measures to tackle the carbon footprint associated with battery production.

In terms of average lifespan of batteries, this depends on the battery type used and the battery chemistry. Notwithstanding peak and lower performing batteries, in terms of average figures we have observed that the industry standard is approximately 400-700 cycles, which roughly equates to 14,000-25,000 km driven. Shared e-scooter batteries can achieve 14,000+ miles (22,500+ km) of expected battery life. Calendar time can be a misleading metric; for example, a consumer model that averages two rides per week might be able to market a 5-year battery life, where shared rentals would see much more use.

Concerning the management of end-of-life, once a battery is decommissioned our members will first consider it for reuse namely by disassembling the battery, testing individual battery cells, and passing the performant ones on to our partners for a second life as battery packs for other purposes. Moreover, members of Micro-Mobility for Europe have developed partnerships with recyclers to recycle lithium-ion battery cells, circuit boards, and e-waste. The industry has been working to reduce the percentage of cobalt used in battery cells by replacing it with nickel. Any batteries or cells that are not fit for reuse are collected by recycling partners for recycling via hydrometallurgical recycling systems.

When it comes to sustainability and waste management of batteries, members of Micro-Mobility for Europe have developed partnerships with recyclers to recycle lithium-ion battery cells, circuit boards, and e-waste. More concretely, the industry has been active in material substitution with the aim of improving the environmental performance of our operations – as it is the case of the current gradual reduction in cobalt for nickel.

Batteries for light means of transport should all be defined as portable batteries

We agree with the European Commission that light means of transport should fall under the portable battery category. This is clearly stated in recital 12 (p. 25-26) which reads that “batteries used in light means of transport, such as e-bikes and scooters, [should be] classified as portable batteries”.

However, we are concerned with the lack of accuracy when defining light means of transport in Article 2, which seems inconsistent with that recital. Indeed, the definition under Article 2 of light means of transport is very restrictive, and mostly limited to e-bikes. Such a narrow definition cannot properly account for the evolving variety of light electric vehicles, including e-bikes, e-scooters, and many other new innovative vehicles. Therefore, it appears that the content of the Regulation would not match the original intention of the European Commission.

Defining batteries used in micro-mobility vehicles as portable batteries is important for several reasons. The first reason is that it allows for predictability for both the battery industry and the micro-mobility industry, allowing European production of battery cells and batteries to develop and flourish, and for the micro-mobility industry to operate under the same regulatory terms no matter the vehicle’s exact specifications.

We believe that the EU Battery Regulation should set definitions in coherence with other regulations and ongoing regulatory work in the EU. When it comes to light means of transport, weight and speed are the main elements used to categorise and define vehicles, and are also key parameters which define the battery capacity needed to propel the vehicle. This is for example illustrated in the study on personal mobility devices carried out by TRL. This should also be the approach in the Battery Regulation which will be the first legislation in the EU to provide a definition for batteries of ‘light means of transport’. Such a definition should be future-proof, accounting for the variety of vehicles that fall under this category. It should also account for how light means of transport can tackle transport emissions and develop more sustainable mobility in Europe.

A uniform approach for all vehicles similar in speed and weight is also justified by the fact that the exact same battery can be used in an e-bike or an e-scooter. That is, under the proposed regulation, the same battery might find itself classified in one week as a “portable” battery, and the next week as an “electric vehicle” battery. Should the current text remain, this would lead to a very incoherent and unpredictable regulatory framework. Additionally, it would be nearly impossible to manage for battery manufacturers.

Therefore MMfE calls on EU co-legislators to set a coherent, accurate and robust definition for light means of transport that provides an efficient framework for the sustainability and safety of batteries in support of more sustainable means of transport in the short and long run.

Our proposed amendments

Article 2 point 7

Article 2 point 7Our proposal
‘Portable battery’ means any battery that:‘Portable battery’ means any battery that:
• is sealed;• is sealed;
• weighs below 5 kg;• has a capacity limit of 2 KWh;
• is not designed for industrial purposes; and• (weighs below 10 kg;)
• is neither an electric vehicle battery nor an automotive battery;• is not designed for industrial purposes; and
• is neither an electric vehicle battery nor an automotive battery;

Justification

Micro-Mobility for Europe would welcome a classification made on capacity, as the coalition believes it to be a better way to classify batteries. The capacity limit the coalition proposes is 2KWh. A significant part of the weight is composed of material that protects the battery cells from damage, which should not be reduced from a safety and durability perspective. Larger batteries are also more environmentally friendly, as they allow vehicles to operate for longer before the battery is swapped. As battery technology is in continuous evolution, new cell chemistries and other innovations could soon make the legislation obsolete. Therefore, a limitation of 5 kg seems to be limiting to new possible technologies. In case of a weight limitation, Micro-Mobility for Europe would suggest a threshold of 10 kg. Finally, the legislation should concern itself with safety guarantees that are verifiable and backed by data, rather than setting arbitrary weight or vehicle power limits.

Article 2 point 9

Article 2 point 9Our proposal
‘light means of transport’ means wheeled vehicles that have an electric motor of less than 750 watts, on which travellers are seated when the vehicle is moving and that can be powered by the electric motor alone or by a combination of motor and human power;‘light means of transport’ means wheeled vehicles that have an electric motor of no more than 2,000 watts, taking into account that the range of vehicle defined as ‘light means of transport’ will likely expand over time, and that can be powered by the electric motor alone or by a combination of motor and human power;

Justification

Light means of transport include a large variety of vehicles such as e-bikes and e-scooters., etc. There is no justification to treat these vehicles differently and the EU Battery regulation should be future-proof as to which light means of transport can be developed in the future, particularly to tackle transport emissions and develop a more sustainable mobility in Europe. Coherence needs to be ensured between the work ongoing on Personal Mobility Devices (incl. TRL study) by DG GROW and the text of this proposal.

Article 2 point 12

Article 2 point 12Our proposal
‘Electric vehicle battery’ means any battery specifically designed to provide traction to hybrid and electric vehicles for road transport;‘electric vehicle battery’ means any battery specifically designed to provide traction to hybrid and electric vehicles for road transport, with the exception of batteries to provide traction to light means of transport;

Justification

To avoid any confusion as to what might constitute an electric vehicle battery, we propose clearly excluding light means of transport batteries from the scope of the definition.

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