Overlay
Sustainability

Powered micro vehicles: the future of low-impact, urban transport

Electric cargo bikes, e-scooters and other powered micro vehicles (PMVs) are the future of urban transportation, according to a new report by WMG.

Takeaways from the report:
  • The UK can be a global leader in developing PMVs
  • Micro vehicles must be accessible and convenient
  • Supporting infrastructure will need to be built
  • PMVs should be divided into subcategories and regulated accordingly

 

Small electric vehicles present a huge opportunity to decarbonise transport, reduce congestion, improve air quality and reduce car dependency in our cities.

But while the global market for these vehicles is growing rapidly, the UK is far behind other countries in adopting them – and our vehicle developers currently have a market share of less than 1% as a result.

A new report titled Micromobility: a UK Roadmap, researched and written by WMG at the University of Warwick and low-emission vehicle consultancy Cenex, sets out proposals which will address these issues, unleashing micromobility innovation across the UK.

Before work can begin on building more vehicles, and the infrastructure needed to support their use, definitions must be put in place to enable regulation of PMVs in Britain, says the report[1].

The main finding was that “one size does not fit all” and different regulations should be applied to different vehicle types. The report suggests the formation of one overarching PMV category, with three distinct vehicle subcategories.

While each category will have its own regulations, efforts must be made to lower barriers to uptake of these vehicles if we are to reduce our dependency on cars and vans.

[1] Report compiled by University of Warwick.

 

Proposed PMV subcategories

1. E-scooters

These single-rider machines should have a maximum speed of 15.5mph, a maximum power of 500W, and a maximum unladen weight of 55kg, says the report. It suggests there should be no licence requirement for riders, who must be aged 14 or older.

 

2. Light electric cargo vehicles

These vehicles are intended for cargo transportation and should have a maximum speed of 15.5mph, a maximum power of 2kW and a maximum weight of 600kg. They should not be wider than 1.2m, in order to fit in cycle lanes. Riders should be 16 or older.

 

3. Electric light mopeds

These are identified by the motorcycle industry as a natural pathway to powered two-wheelers in the current ‘L’ category road vehicle regulations. Further trials are required to determine speed limits and their enforcement, and whether ELMs should be allowed on cycleways.

Culture shift required to swap cars for PMVs
The transformation to PMV transport represents a huge cultural shift, and while many people are keen to enjoy these vehicles today, others might resist swapping their car for a PMV, says the report. In practical terms this means ensuring ‘sticks’, like Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZs), are introduced alongside ‘carrots’, like redesignation of spaces for cycles and PMVs with secure storage, as well as financial incentives to encourage adoption.
PMV infrastructure must keep pace
Space must be made in the public realm for PMVs, including segregated and safe PMV routes and secure and available parking, says the report. And trials should be held to develop new and innovative solutions to make lower-impact journeys as easy as practicable.
Legislation needed to formalise PMV regulation
The report sets out a suggested timeline for implementing legislation governing PMVs. Primary legislation governing the overarching PMV classification should be completed by July 2023, and secondary legislation, governing the vehicle sub-categories, by July 2024.
Micromobility: a UK Roadmap – download the full report here.

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of the NatWest Group Economics Department, as of this date and are subject to change without notice.

scroll to top