PLEVs: cla­ri­ty at last?

PLEV Ordi­nan­ce

Ger­ma­ny, like other Euro­pean count­ries, will soon be allo­wing per­so­nal light elec­tric vehic­les (PLEVs) like e‑scooters onto public roads. But the details of the pro­po­sed Ordi­nan­ce on Per­so­nal Light Elec­tric Vehic­les (the PLEV Ordi­nan­ce) are still in dis­pu­te. A first draft of the Ordi­nan­ce was published in July 2018. Under this draft, a motor­cy­cle test cer­ti­fi­ca­te would be requi­red to ope­ra­te PLEVs and PLEVs would have to be equip­ped with turn signals.


The draft has been cri­ti­ci­zed, par­ti­cu­lar­ly by com­pa­nies try­ing to break into the mar­ket. A few details have been chan­ged in the cur­rent draft. The Ordi­nan­ce now pro­vi­des for a mini­mum age of 12 (for vehic­les with a maxi­mum speed of 12 km/h) or 14 (for vehic­les with a maxi­mum speed of 20 km/h) to ope­ra­te a PLEV. The turn signal requi­re­ment has also been wate­red down. The duty to obtain lia­bi­li­ty insu­rance covera­ge remains in the Ordinance.

Ano­ther ques­ti­on which has spark­ed deba­te is the ques­ti­on of whe­re PLEVs may be ope­ra­ted in the future. The cur­rent draft of the Ordi­nan­ce sta­tes that, in urban are­as, vehic­les with a maxi­mum speed of 12 km/h may be ope­ra­ted e.g. on walk­ways and in pede­stri­an zones. This pro­vi­si­on has drawn cri­ti­cism from the Ger­man Road Safe­ty Coun­cil and Deut­sche Ver­kehrs­wacht, a Ger­man road safe­ty asso­cia­ti­on. Both orga­niza­ti­ons also call for man­da­to­ry motor­cy­cle test cer­ti­fi­ca­tes for ope­ra­tors of PLEVs. 

Their con­cerns about allo­wing vehic­les with a maxi­mum speed of less than 12 km/h in walk­ways and pede­stri­an zones are shared by the rele­vant Com­mit­tees of the Bun­des­rat [Fede­ral Coun­cil]. On 3 May 2019, they pro­po­sed a reso­lu­ti­on which would strike the­se pro­vi­si­ons from the Ordi­nan­ce. As grounds, they cite the safe­ty risk and the risk of con­flict with other traf­fic participants.

In order to bet­ter account for local con­di­ti­ons, the Com­mit­tees recom­mend inser­ting a clau­se allo­wing the road traf­fic aut­ho­ri­ties to pro­hi­bit the use of PLEVs in local are­as whe­re they would other­wi­se be per­mit­ted. They also recom­mend lea­ving the mini­mum age for ope­ra­ting PLEVs at 15, as ori­gi­nal­ly inten­ded, due to the simi­la­ri­ty of PLEVs to motor­cy­cles. Howe­ver, they have not cal­led for res­to­ring the test cer­ti­fi­ca­te requirement.

The topics men­tio­ned abo­ve were dis­cus­sed in a public hea­ring held by Fede­ral Par­lia­ment on 8 May 2019 con­cer­ning a moti­on pre­sen­ted by the FDP (the Free Demo­cra­tic Par­ty) regar­ding e‑scooters and hover­boards. At the hea­ring, some experts also expres­sed safe­ty con­cerns regar­ding the use of PLEVs on walk­ways. The fede­ral govern­ment stres­sed that it is wil­ling to com­pro­mi­se on this issue.

What will the future bring for PLEVs?

In view of the broad con­sen­sus con­cer­ning the use of PLEVs in walk­ways, it appears likely that the Fede­ral Coun­cil will accept the recom­men­da­ti­ons. As far as other points are con­cer­ned, such as the mini­mum age for ope­ra­ting PLEVs and the duty to obtain insu­rance, we can only await the reso­lu­ti­on. It also should be kept in mind that the Ordi­nan­ce is to app­ly only for vehic­les with hand­le­bars. A sepa­ra­te Ordi­nan­ce is plan­ned for vehic­les such as hover­boards, accor­ding to the Fede­ral Trans­por­ta­ti­on Minister.

While it is com­mon for Ordi­nan­ces to under­go chan­ges on their way towards final adop­ti­on, the ext­ent of the uncer­tain­ty is par­ti­cu­lar­ly pro­no­un­ced in the case of the PLEV Ordi­nan­ce. This lack of cla­ri­ty makes it sub­stan­ti­al­ly more dif­fi­cult for affec­ted com­pa­nies to make pre­pa­ra­ti­ons for ente­ring the mar­ket. Accor­din­gly, they would be well-advised to clo­se­ly moni­tor developments.


Stay up-to-date

We use your email address exclusively for sending our newsletter. You have the right to revoke your consent at any time with effect for the future. For further information, please refer to our privacy policy.